Berkeley Repertory Theatre to Present Tony Kushner's 'THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE', Begin. 5/16
Berkeley Repertory Theatre welcomes back Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner for the West Coast premiere of his latest play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, an epic tale of love, family, sex, money, and politics. Kushner reunites with one of his favorite collaborators, Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone, to bring this sweeping drama to the Roda Theatre. With his trademark mix of soaring intellect and searing emotion, the legendary writer unfurls a poignant story about an Italian family in Brooklyn. When retired longshoreman Gus Marcantonio decides to die, his kids come home with a raucous parade of lovers and spouses to find that even the house keeps secrets. A portrait of a dysfunctional family filled with weighty dialogue, humor, and passion, Kushner's four-act play previews Friday, May 16, opens on Wednesday, May 21, and runs through Sunday, June 29, 2014.
"Tony and I have been talking about this play for a year, and we're both excited to approach it with fresh eyes," say Taccone. "Like most Kushner plays, it uses a particular dramatic situation to examine larger issues in contemporary society. Focused on an Italian-American family in Brooklyn in 2008, Intelligent Homosexual's Guide grapples with the consequences of hyper-capitalism, the paralysis of the Left, and the emotional chaos at the heart of a family trying to grapple with a father bent on suicide. But it wouldn't be Kushner if it wasn't filled with humor, pathos, and a profound yearning for a better life. Its length, always a factor with Tony's plays, is a testament to the breadth and depth of the author's mind."
"I'm always very happy being back at Berkeley Rep, the only theatre outside of New York where I truly feel at home, in the Bay Area, the only part of the world outside of New York I consider truly habitable," remarks Kushner. "Tony Taccone and I have a working relationship that's developed over four decades (oy!), and I treasure our collaboration and our friendship. The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures - my husband Mark nicknamed it iHo, and I recommend that, it's much easier to remember - was written in 2009 for the Guthrie Theater and subsequently opened in New York in a co-production between the Public and Signature theatres. The play explores revolutionary versus evolutionary change, the history of Italian-American radicalism, marriage, sex, sexual identity, prostitution, parenting, politics, theology, real estate, debts both repaid and unpayable, and unions of all kinds."
Referencing the play's two previous incarnations at the Guthrie and The Public Theater, The New York Times declares, "Theatergoers who have previously thrilled to Mr. Kushner's heady language and his visceral commitment to ideas made flesh are sure to feel a rush of the old excitement [as] Guide explodes into a babel of fast-talking, passionate voices - slapping and overlapping, twining and crashing into one another. And you may find yourself sitting back and grinning at this noisy spectacle of so many people having so much to say with so much passion and eloquence." The Nation proclaims, it's "that rarest of theater delights - a big, noisy, sexy play in which argument is hot and throbbing." "It's also lush and beautiful, funny and an education," says the Associated Press. "Kushner uses a Brooklyn family to expose a place one is meant to avoid at polite cocktail parties: The battleground where politics and personal lives overlap and buckle."
Born in New York City in 1956 and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Tony Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which was commissioned and co-directed by Tony Taccone. Berkeley Rep has produced several of Kushner's plays, including The Illusion, Slavs!, Hydriotaphia or the Death of Dr. Browne, Homebody/Kabul, Brundibar, and Tiny Kushner. His other plays include A Bright Room Called Day and Caroline, or Change, the musical for which he wrote book and lyrics, with music by composer Jeanine Tesori. Kushner has translated and adapted S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children, and the English-language libretto for the children's opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols' film of Angels in America and Steven Spielberg's Munich. In 2012 he wrote the screenplay for Spielberg's movie Lincoln. His screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award, and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Chicago Film Critics Award, and several others. His books include But the Giraffe: A Curtain Raising and Brundibar: the Libretto, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. In addition, a revival of Angels in America ran off Broadway at the Signature Theatre and won the Lucille Lortel Award in 2011 for Outstanding Revival. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a Cultural Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, a Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement, and the 2012 National Medal of Arts, among many others. Caroline, or Change, produced at the National Theatre of Great Britain, received the Evening Standard Award, the London Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the Olivier Award for Best Musical. In September 2008, Kushner became the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the largest theatre award in the U.S. He is the subject of a documentary film Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.
During Tony Taccone's tenure as Berkeley Rep's Michael Leibert Artistic Director, the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has earned a reputation as an international leader in innovative theatre. In those 16 years, Berkeley Rep has presented more than 70 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 29 shows to New York, two to London, and now one to Hong Kong. Taccone has staged more than 35 plays in Berkeley, including new work from Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, Quincy Long, Itamar Moses, and Lemony Snicket. He directed the shows that transferred to London, Continental Divide and Tiny Kushner, and two that landed on Broadway as well: Bridge & Tunnel and Wishful Drinking. Taccone commissioned Kushner's legendary Angels in America, co-directed its world premiere, and this season marks his eighth collaboration with Kushner when he directs The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide. Taccone's regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, the Eureka Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. As a playwright, Taccone recently debuted Ghost Light and Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup. His latest play, Game On, written with Dan Hoyle, premiered in April 2014 at San Jose Repertory Theatre. In 2012, Taccone received the Margo Jones Award for "demonstrating a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of playwriting, with a commitment to the living theatre."
Bringing the Marcantonio clan to life is a first-rate cast featuring 11 accomplished actors, many of whom are making their Berkeley Rep debut:
Tina Chilip (Sooze) is thrilled to be back in the Bay Area making her Berkeley Rep debut. She recently performed the role of Xi in Chinglish with Portland Center Stage and Syracuse Stage, directed by May Adrales. Her New York credits include off-Broadway productions of Golden Child at Signature Theatre Company (directed by Leigh Silverman), Flipzoids at Ma-Yi Theater Company, and Joy Luck Club at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre.
Randy Danson (Clio) was last seen at Berkeley Rep in Finn in the Underworld and prior to that as Violet in Suddenly Last Summer, both directed by Les Waters. Her regional credits include Vivian in Wit at Philadelphia Theatre Company, for which she won the Barrymore Award, and Shen Teh/Shui Ta in The Good Person of Szechwan at Arena Stage, for she received a Helen Hayes Award. Danson appeared as the title role in Robert Woodruff's production of The Duchess of Malfi at American Conservatory Theater. Most recently in New York City she appeared in the American premiere of Caryl Churchill's newest play, Love and Information, produced by New York Theatre Workshop, and on Broadway as Madame Morrible in Wicked.
Anthony Fusco (Adam) made his Berkeley Rep debut earlier this season in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. A Marin County kid, he came back to the Bay Area from New York City in 1999 and since has been a leading actor and company member at American Conservatory Theater and California Shakespeare Theater, playing memorable roles in dozens of productions. His personal favorites include Clybourne Park, Samuel Beckett's Play, Dead Metaphor, David Mamet's Race and November, The Homecoming, Hedda Gabler (directed by Richard E.T. White), Caucasian Chalk Circle, and The Three Sisters at ACT; and King Lear, Blithe Spirit, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest, Arms and the Man, and Candida at Cal Shakes. On Broadway, Fusco has appeared in The Real Thing and The Real Inspector Hound.
Jordan Geiger (Eli) is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared off Broadway in Peter and The Starcatcher at New World Stages, The Correspondent at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and The Best of Everything at HERE Arts Center. A Denver native, Geiger studied at Juilliard, where some of his favorite credits include The Seagull, directed by Lucie Tiberghien; Hay Fever, directed by Dakin Matthews; and All's Well That Ends Well.
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Paul) is making his Berkeley Rep debut. His New York credits include The Piano Lesson, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (national tour), The America Play, The Tempest (with Patrick Stewart), Two Noble Kinsmen, The Public Sings, King Lear, and Letters to the End of the World. His regional credits include Angels in America, The Trip To Bountiful, An Enemy of the People, Tartuffe, The Winter's Tale, Radio Golf, The 39 Steps, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra (with Suzanne Bertish) and more. Henderson received an AUDELCO Award, a Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Award, a Connecticut Critics Circle Award, and a Leon Rabin Award, and he was nominated for a Kevin Kline Award.
Lou Liberatore (Pill) is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared on Broadway and in London in As Is and Burn This, for which he was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In New York he has also appeared at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Circle Repertory Company, the Vineyard Theatre, and The Lark Theater, among others. His selected regional credits include shows at Westport Country Playhouse, Center Stage in Baltimore, Pioneer Theatre Company, Two River Theater Company, the Alley Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and the Mark Taper Forum.
Deirdre Lovejoy (Empty) is making her Berkeley Rep debut. She appeared on Broadway in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks and directed by George C. Wolfe, Six Degrees of Separation (also the first national tour), Getting and Spending, and The Gathering. Her off-Broadway credits include the original production of How I Learned to Drive (also at Arena Stage), A Midsummer Night's Dream and Machinal at The Public Theater, and Henry IV at the Delacorte Theater. Her select regional credits include Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, and The Sisters Rosensweig at the Old Globe; Heartbreak House at the Huntington Theatre Company; The House That Jack Built at Indiana Repertory Theatre; and Dark Rapture at American Conservatory Theater.
Mark Margolis (Gus) is making his first appearance at Berkeley Rep. Margolis most recently played Bernie Madoff in Deb Margolin's Imagining Madoff at Stageworks/Hudson. He has appeared on Broadway in Infidel Caesar and The World of Sholom Aleichem. He has performed at many New York theatres including The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and Second Stage Theatre. His regional credits include shows at Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, Hartford Stage, the Wilma Theater, Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Denver Center Theatre Company, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and Williamstown Theatre Festival, among others. Margolis has appeared in all of Darren Aronofsky's films beginning with Pi. He has also appeared in many other films including Scarface, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Defiance, The Thomas Crown Affair, Gone Baby Gone, Dinner Rush, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, The Tailor of Panama, Stand Up Guys, Jakob the Liar, and Mickey Blue Eyes. He played Tio in Breaking Bad, a performance which earned him a primetime Emmy nomination. He has also appeared in the TV mini-series Mildred Pierce as well as TV shows Californication, Oz, The Equalizer, Kings, American Horror Story (second season), and Person of Interest, among others. Margolis studied with Stella Adler and is a member of the Actors Studio.
Joseph J. Parks (Vito) is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared off Broadway in Eurydice at Second Stage Theatre. His regional theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet, Eurydice, and Richard II at Yale Repertory Theatre; Romeo and Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater; Broadway Bound at the Old Globe; The History of Invulnerability and Love Song at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and Slay the Dragon at American Conservatory Theater; The Sweetest Swing in Baseball at Magic Theatre; and Wintertime at San Jose Repertory Theatre.
Robynn Rodriguez (Shelle), a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, is always thrilled to be back at Berkeley Rep, where she was last seen in the world premiere of Ghost Light, created and developed by Tony Taccone and Jonathan Moscone and directed by Moscone. She was also in Berkeley Rep's production of The Oresteia and the world premiere of David Edgar's Continental Divide (a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), which toured to La Jolla Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, and the Barbican in London. For 22 seasons, Rodriguez was a member of the resident acting company at OSF, where she appeared in over 40 productions. Her work has been seen at the Guthrie Theater, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Intiman Theatre, the Denver Center Theatre Company, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, among others. In 2013, she made her directorial debut at the Utah Shakespeare Festival with Shakespeare's King John.
Liz Wisan (Maeve) is delighted to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. She was just seen at Yale Repertory Theatre in the world premiere of These Paper Bullets!, and at Seattle Repertory Theatre in Christopher Bayes' production of The Servant of Two Masters, which originated at Yale Rep in 2010, and has enjoyed incarnations at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, and ArtsEmerson. Her New York credits include the Broadway and Lincoln Center Theater productions of Other Desert Cities (understudying and performing the role of Brooke), Bill W. & Dr. Bob at Soho Playhouse, Billy Witch at Astoria Performing Arts Center, and Miss Lilly Gets Boned, My Base and Scurvy Heart, and The Sporting Life at Studio 42 as a resident artist. Her regional credits include The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Hannah at Premiere Stages, The Winter's Tale at Chautauqua Theater Company, and Anything Goes, Twelfth Night, and Cloud Tectonics at Williamstown Theatre Festival.
The creative team for The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide includes four accomplished designers: Christopher Barecca (scenic designer), Meg Neville (costume designer), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer), and Jake Rodriguez (sound designer). Julie Wolf is the music consultant. The stage manager for the production is Michael Suenkel.