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Mary Zimmerman Returns to Berkeley Rep in WHITE SNAKE

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This holiday season, Berkeley Repertory Theatre welcomes back a beloved artist for an alluring and hypnotic world-premiere production. Mary Zimmerman is mesmerizing. From Metamorphoses to The Arabian Nights, audiences have embraced her enchanting adaptations of epic tales. Now the Tony Award-winning director casts a spell with The White Snake, a classic romance from Chinese legend. As she falls for a charming young man, a snake spirit discovers what it means to be human. But a monk objects, and the bride must unveil her magical powers to save their love.

With The White Snake, Zimmerman unwraps another exquisite gift for Bay Area theatregoers. A co-production with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this new show starts previews in the Roda Theatre on November 9, opens November 14, and runs through December 23. The executive producers of the local run are Pam and Rich Nichter and Shirley D. and Philip D. Schild. The co-sponsor is Mechanics Bank Wealth Management. The season producers are Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Marjorie Randolph, Jack and Betty Schafer, and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family. For the eighth straight year, BART and Wells Fargo serve as the official sponsors of Berkeley Rep’s season.

“This is our seventh show with Mary, and it may be her finest work yet,” says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “Over the years, our audience, our staff, and our volunteers have developed a deep relationship with her ingenuity and vision. We eagerly anticipate each time Mary returns to transform an ancient tale into a fresh look at our shared humanity. The White Snake is a story about the limits – and the transcendence – of love, told with her signature style that turns simplicity into splendor. I look forward to sharing it with our community.”

“Berkeley is my theatrical home away from home,” Zimmerman remarks. “I've done more shows there than anywhere outside of Chicago. I love working at Berkeley Rep because everyone is so nice and smart and good at what they do, and the audience is quick and clever as well. I have a special feeling about this new show, and it ends up going in a surprising direction. It surprised even me! The White Snake is pretty and funny and romantic and then, suddenly, quite different. I am hopeful it will play well in Berkeley.”

“Terrific… Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman’s moving world-premiere production already has audiences grasping for appropriate superlatives. The work is a remarkable piece of theatrical imagination, the kind Zimmerman has specialized in with productions such as Metamorphoses, Argonautika, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci and Arabian Nights,” says the Sacramento Bee. “Zimmerman has created an epic tale of love and sacrifice with spectacular visual appeal, plenty of humor and remarkable emotional depth.”

Mary Zimmerman received the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director and a 1998 MacArthur Fellowship. This is her seventh show for Berkeley Rep, following acclaimed productions of The Arabian Nights, Argonautika, Journey to the West, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and The Secret in the Wings. These plays – and others that she’s adapted and directed such as Eleven Rooms of Proust, The Odyssey, Silk, and S/M – have enjoyed celebrated runs at Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Goodman Theatre, the Huntington Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, the Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theatre Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Second Stage Theatre. She also directed All’s Well That Ends Well and Pericles for the Goodman, Henry VIII and Measure for Measure for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Huntington. In 2002, Zimmerman created a new opera with Philip Glass called Galileo Galilei, which was presented at BAM, the Goodman, and the Barbican in London. In recent years, she has staged Armida, Lucia di Lammermoor, and La Sonnambula for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Based in Chicago, Zimmerman has won 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards – the city’s top theatrical honors – including prizes for best production and best direction. She is a member of Lookingglass, an artistic associate of the Goodman, and a professor of performance studies at Northwestern University.

Adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, The White Snake features a creative team renowned for helping her create magic on stage. Daniel Ostling (scenic design) designEd Berkeley Rep’s productions of The Arabian Nights, Argonautika, Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men, Closer, Metamorphoses, and The Secret in the Wings. His many recent credits include the Broadway run of Clybourne Park. Mara Blumenfeld (costume design) created costumes for after the quake, Metamorphoses, and The Secret in the Wings at Berkeley Rep. She has worked at numerous regional theatres and at Lincoln Center, the Met, and Second Stage in New York. T.J. Gerckens (lighting design) has received Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Ovation Awards. At Berkeley Rep, he designed The Arabian Nights, Journey to the West, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and The Secret in the Wings. Andre Pluess (original music and sound design) worked on eight previous shows at Berkeley Rep, most recently Ghost Light. His honors include a Barrymore Award, a Drama Critics Circle Award, multiple Jeff Awards and Citations, and an Ovation Award. Shawn Sagady (projection design) has designed for Broadway (Leap of Faith and Memphis), off Broadway (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and Father Comes Home from the War), and many regional theatres. His work on Berkeley Rep’s Emotional Creature is now being seen in New York.

This world-premiere production features a cast of 11 talented actors:

Amy Kim Waschke (White Snake) has performed with Theatre C, Manhattan Theatre Source, and Vampire Cowboys in New York as well as on regional stages in Arizona, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, DC.

Christopher Livingston (Xu Xian / ensemble) has been seen at Intiman Theatre, the Moore Theatre, OSF, Virginia Stage Company, and the Youth Ink! Theater Festival at McCarter, as well as with Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Tanya Thai McBride (Green Snake) has performed for Adventure Stage Chicago, Caffeine Theatre, Collaboraction, the Goodman, the Neo-Futurists, OSF, Porchlight Music Theatre, Polarity Ensemble Theatre, Redmoon, Silk Road Rising, and the Steppenwolf Garage.

Jack Willis (Fa Hai / ensemble) has appeared in more than 200 shows throughout the world, including Broadway productions of Art, The Crucible, Julius Caesar, and The Old Neighborhood. He is a company member at OSF, a former associate artist at American Conservatory Theater, and a cofounder of Aruba Repertory.

Cristofer Jean (Brother-in-Law / ensemble) has been a company member at OSF for eight seasons, with title roles in Henry VI, Parts One, Two, and Three and Lorca in a Green Dress. His many other credits include shows at The Acting Company and The Public Theater.

Lisa Tejero (Sister-in-Law / ensemble) appeared at Berkeley Rep in Journey to the West and Metamorphoses, reprising her role in the latter on Broadway. She has performed regionally at the Goodman, the Huntington, Lookingglass, McCarter, Steppenwolf, and Victory Gardens.
Keiko Shimosato Carreiro (ensemble) has been an actor, director, and designer with the San Francisco Mime Troupe since 1987. Her many local credits include acting in Fuente Ovejuna at Berkeley Rep and directing Cowboy versus Samurai for the Asian American Theatre Company.
Gina Daniels (ensemble) has been seen locally at TheatreWorks and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Her other credits include shows at Centerstage, Geva Theatre Center, the National Black Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Summer Play Festival, and seven seasons at OSF.

Richard Howard (ensemble) appeared on Broadway in Execution of Justice and off Broadway in Ten by Tennessee. In 24 years at OSF, he has played title roles in Hamlet; Henry IV, Parts One and Two; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Richard II; and Romeo and Juliet.

Emily Sophia Knapp (ensemble) has been seen in New York at the Chekhov Now Festival, HERE Arts Center, Performance Space 122, Prelude Festival, Riverside Theatre, and SPF. Her many regional credits include five seasons with OSF.

Vin Kridakorn (ensemble) was a resident actor at the Flea Theater and appeared in its world premiere of Future Anxiety. He has also been seen at Dance New Amsterdam, the Gallery Players, the Queens Players, Riverside Theatre, and Roy Arias Theater.

The ensemble also includes three musicians: Tessa Brinckman (flutes), Ronnie Malley (strings and percussion), and Michal Palzewicz (cello). The stage manager for the local run is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep’s resident production stage manager.

Audiences can enjoy several special events as The White Snake strikes in Berkeley:

· Low-cost previews take place on Friday, November 9; Saturday, November 10; Sunday, November 11; and Tuesday, November 13.

· Teen Night begins at 6:30 PM on Friday, November 9 and includes dinner, a presentation by a member of the artistic team, and a performance of the show. Tickets are only $10 for high-school students. For details, call (510) 647-2973 or e-mail teencouncil@berkeleyrep.org.

· Page to Stage, a free talk with Mary Zimmerman moderated by theatre blogger Chad Jones, occurs on Monday, November 12 at 7:00 PM.

· Opening-night festivities are held on Wednesday, November 14 with a pre-show dinner for donors at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza and a post-show party for the audience in the Roda Theatre.

· Post-show discussions moderated by theatre professionals follow the 8:00 PM performances on Tuesday, November 27; Thursday, December 6; and Friday, December 14. Post-show discussions with Berkeley Rep’s docents take place after all matinees.

· Free 30-minute docent presentations are offered at 7:00 PM every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Docent talks are also held in three local communities: at the Lafayette Library on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 PM, at the Orinda Library on Tuesday, November 20 at 7:00 PM, and at the Moraga Library on Wednesday, November 21 at 2:00 PM.

Beginning with Metamorphoses, seven shows seen at Berkeley Rep have ended up on Broadway in the last 10 years. Twelve landed off Broadway, two moved to London, two turned into films, and one is headed for Hong Kong. So don’t miss the new season of exhilarating plays at the Theatre, featuring an array of artists who have collectively earned four Tony Awards, 11 Obie Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. Chinglish, a hit comedy from David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman, has extended its run until October 21. Next Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare deliver a visceral new version of An Iliad starring Henry Woronicz. Hot young writer Dan LeFranc greets the New Year with the world premiere of Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. Then Lawrence Wright teams up with Oskar Eustis for the world premiere of Fallaci before Berkeley Rep brings the Bard back with a bang in MarK Wing-Davey’s production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Finally Sarah Ruhl and Les Waters reunite in May for the West Coast premiere of Dear Elizabeth.

Get the best seats for all these shows at the consistently lowest prices by subscribing to Berkeley Rep. Choose three or more plays and guarantee your seats for events that are sure to sell out. Ticket packages begin as low as $81 – and, in addition to significant savings, subscribers receive valuable benefits such as the right to reschedule for free, discounts when purchasing tickets for friends, and the opportunity to secure seats before the general public for special events like Mikhail Baryshnikov’s In Paris. Subscriptions are selling fast because of last season’s string of hits – so order now for the best seats.

Individual tickets to The White Snake start at only $29. Additional savings are available for groups, seniors, students, and anyone under 30 years of age – meaning discounted tickets can be obtained for as little as $14.50. The Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots – and only half a block from BART. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or simply click berkeleyrep.org.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed more than 300 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – which include the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. Come see tomorrow’s plays today at Berkeley Rep.


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