Untitled Reality Winner project is the (almost) verbatim official transcription of the June 2017 FBI interrogation leading to the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old woman from Texas accused of leaking top secret U.S. intelligence. As the verbal dance between the knife-sharp, unexpectedly charming Reality and two FBI agents unfolds in her kitchen and Realitys autonomy shrinks before her eyes, a simmering real-life thriller emergesoffering considerations of access, identity, language, and honor in this particular national moment.
Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbithighlights our 201718 season.
My Father the Speeding Bullet: Nincestis a provocative, irreverent exploration of trauma, its aftermath, and its insidious reconfiguration into glamor. When Anais Nin was nine, her father left. When she was thirty, he returnedand began a passionate and secret love affair with her.Nincestis a darkly comedic, gender-bending, play-with-songs in which the part of Anais is written for Pig Iron co-founder Dito Van Reigersberg.
The lives of two generations of immigrant women from Poland, Ukraine, Honduras, and Afghanistan haunt a basement apartment in the borough of Queens. When in 2017 Inna comes looking for the mother who abandoned her as a child in Ukraine, Renia is assaulted by the memories of the women who occupied the building wherein she once sought refuge and now owns. Spanning 20012017, the play looks at the choices these women made for security, family, dignity, and desire in a country that can play favorites with its fortune. What are you forced to leave behind when working so hard to move forward?
The Two Redstells the story of the formative years of friends Malcolm X and Redd Foxx, who were working together, hustling together, and even living together (though both were homeless and living on a rooftop) in 1940s Harlem.
Mikey is a Minnesota high school hockey star on track to turn pro, until he is out-ed by his best friend days before the State Tournament. Meanwhile, Mitch, a middle-aged gay man, lives sequestered in a sad, beige apartment. As Mitch struggles to reconnect with his estranged children, a new obsession forces him to play a game that will change his life forever. InBreakaway, the lines between ice rink and living room collide in a dark and hilarious study of masculinity, sexuality, and fantasy in the world of sports. A Berkeley Rep commission.
InKeep Your Forks, Eddie Monell, a gay trophy husband cast off by his partner after thirty-one years, has to start over in Indianapolis at the age of fifty with no life skills, a bad attitude, and serious entitlement issues. Can his sister, Joyce, and his step-daughter, Rachel, induce him to become a better person? Or does the heroin epidemic in the Mid-West offer him better alternatives?
InLove in the Time of Piatas, writer, comedian, and solo performer Baruch Porras-Hernandez breaks open his life and lets all the candy fall out. Watch him wrestle with immigrant guilt, then make out with it a little, then transform it into a hilarious show that asks whats at the end of the Mexican immigrant road? Baruch hopes its donuts. Get ready to party with horny piatas, hear stories about sex clubs, and hang out with the ghost of Frida Kahlo in a show that pushes past the stereotypes to bring you a unique story of a Queer Latino and his family struggling to thrive in todays America.
Christina Anderson Playwright
Aubergine, commissioned by Berkeley Rep, highlighted our 201516 season.
What are the demands of this modern life, and how are the costs extracted?We 3uses music, movement, and soliloquy to trace the common threads linking three women of color living disparate lives.
The untitled hockey project follows the lives of two seemingly unrelated strangers. Devon is a Minnesota high school hockey star on track to turn pro. Its the final quarter of the State Tournament, and theres something Devon must confess to his best friend and teammate before the last buzzer. Mark is a middle-aged unemployed father that spends his days job-hunting, eating ice cream, and checking his Facebook feed. On the verge of losing his foreclosed home and failing marriage, Marks found himself a new hobbyan obsession he must keep secret. The lines between ice rink and living room fade to reveal the hilarious and dark implications of masculinity, sexuality, and the desire to connect with a world of our own design.
Museumis built in two sister sections:
The first is TOUR, in which they take the audience on a walking tour of different existing pieces of art, heavily scoring the tour with electronic and acoustic instruments. As guides, they personally respond to the history and aesthetics of the works with words and music. The other section is called LECTURE. This section is a slide-projection lecture in the style of an art-history lesson, but formally exploded to become quite personal and poetic in its language, and through its live score thats at once intricate and sweeping.
and develops a relationship with him.
An estranged son, a father whos ill, a visiting uncle carrying their memories in tow, and an immigrant from a forgotten countrythey all prove potent ingredients in this bittersweet, moving meditation on family, acceptance, forgiveness, and the things that nourish us. When language fails, when the past fades, the perfect meal transcends time and says more than words ever can. Julia Chos witty and poetic plays have earned critical praise from New York to Los Angeles. Now she pairs with Obie Award-winning director Liesl Tommy (RuinedandParty People) on the elegant, poignant, and lyricalAubergine.
Diana Lynn Small Playwright
Josh Lefkowitz writes a poem a day, five years and counting. As part of the Ground Floor residency, he will stitch together poems (the good ones, anyhow) into a cohesive thematic evening that represents a year in the life. Topics and subject matters to include the following: love, break ups, being alone, internet dating, various bar foods, Neruda, love again, heartbreak, baseball games, depression, Lexapro, and then, again, love.
An installation in the nine-part Ufot family cycle, in which a daughter of the American South meets a daughter of Akwa Ibom immigrants and together they fuse and fashion a new way forward.
Eddie and Dave: A Fictionalized Tale of Van Halenbegins during a 1997 MTV interview in which a middle aged Alex and Eddie Van Halen explain why, after walking on the stage at the 1996 MTV Awards with David Lee Roth for the first time since their bitter break up eleven years earlier, they fired him again after two weeks. The play will be structured as a memory play, with an MTV-J acting as our narrator, guiding the audience through a series of flash backs leading back up to the fated night of the MTV Awards, then flashing forward to Van Halens reunion as much older and possibly wiser men in 2014. Although physically tempered by time, they are essentially the same, still, and hopefully always, running with the devil.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays Playwright
A woman trapped in a cycle that bleeds through time and space looks for a way out.
Berkeley Rep-commissioned artist and 2013 Summer Lab alum Jackie Sibblies Drury returns to work on a currently untitled play about surveillance, paranoia, and the individuals who listen.
On the island of California lives a civilization of black, Amazonian, warrior women who sacrifice their sons, and slaughter any man who invades their shores. Their ruler Queen Calafia faces a moral dilemma when an outsider who arrives on their shores turns out to be a woman. Half her people say the outsider must be killed, while the other half says she must be saved. Based loosely on the 16th-century story by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo,Calafia: A Reimaginingexplores themes of tribalism and the tension between evolution and preservation.
Writing can be a lonely and uncertain process and having someone say Yeah! Write it! We support you! makes approaching the void infinitely less existentially raw, to be super dramatic about it.
Jackie Sibblies Drury Playwright
A play about death, addiction, and the stories we tell each otherand also what happens when you mistake a rabbi for a rabbit.
Oh, yeah, and characters from OvidsMetamorphosesalong with Whoopi Goldberg drift in and out to help tell this story that hopefully asks: What is a soul mate? Are body mates just as kismet? And where are lines drawn when weve committed both body and soul to another person when we ourselves arent attached to them?
Its 1997 and Cynthia Cooper rules the WNBA. Every player on Plainnoles Lady Train basketball team wants to go pro, but none more than Starra Jones. She and her teammates, Cherise, Sidney, April, and Donna, make a pact to stick together come hell or high water. However, the realities of living life in rural Arkansas may tear them apart. Written in the structure of a four-quarter basketball game,Flexpresents a world in which a mistake on the court becomes a foul off the court. Hitting a shot on the court is a score in real life.
First drafted and partially staged in 2014, Arisa will spend time in residence revisingPost Pardon, a libretto inspired by poet Reetika Vazirani who killed her two-year-old son and then took her own life in the summer of 2003.
A play about a community figure drawing class with women artists and a nude male model.
Check back often to learn about additional project presentations as they are announced over the next few weeks!
Las Araasis a play about monsters. It explores the local legend, Las Araas, the Spider-women who haunt a small New Mexican town. We are asked to consider the monsters we fear versus the monsters we create and potentially the monsters we are.
meets Nkopane (who orchestrated the attack)
Lead artists present what theyve been working on during their residency. Whether its a reading or more of a casual showing, join us in getting a glimpse of these work-in-progress pieces.
Christina Anderson Playwright
A Berkeley Rep commission,The Idea of Order, is a musical about the role of poetry in our lives, inspired by the life and work of Wallace Stevens.
A Berkeley Rep commission in progress, currently titledLock her up! (Becky Nurse).
1975: Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot invades Phnom Penh and forever changes the future of Cambodia. 1978: a Cambodian rock band reunites under unusual circumstances. 2006: a long-lost cassette tape is found and reveals an unexpected history. Part-play, part-rock concert, this piece celebrates the raucous history of Cambodias music scene and the legacy of the artists whose lives were forever upended by the Khmer Rouges destruction.
Lileana Blain-Cruz Co-creator
A Berkeley Rep commission,The Idea of Orderis a musical about the role of poetry in our lives, inspired by the life and work of Wallace Stevens.
Ann and Mary Ann are a married couple and they are both neuroscientists. When Ann begins to study Fran (a tile artist), their safely constructed world becomes dangerous. A play about surviving trauma, neuroscience, God, and patterns.
Susan Soon He Stanton Co-creator
Christopher Chen Playwright
James Harrison Monaco Co-creator
Punk Rock Mixtape Play(working title) is a loosely autobiographical work about coming of age in the punk scene as a teenage girl in a brown body during the post-9/11 Bush administration. Through the structure of a mixtape, it explores the experience of learning what it means that you are female and a person of color, while navigating a time of massive cultural shifts and adult situations you dont entirely understand.
Charlie was Clevelands most glamorous dentist. Newly retired from the profession he despised, he now spends his days sipping martinis, helping his partner tend the garden, and watching Brian Williams on cable. That is, when hes not taking care of his aging loved ones. Meanwhile, his nephew Ryan is in New York, pursuing the career in theatre that Charlie so desperately wanted. When Ryan returns home to write a play about their relationship, Charlie has his own ideas about what belongs onstage.Good Time Charlieis a campy, heartfelt portrait of gay mentorship and a familys evolution over thirty years.
This new play (to be produced by Z Space in San Francisco in 2018) tells the story of the confrontation between a group of liberal-minded women in the Bay Area and a woman who holds more conservative beliefs about gender roles. The play aims to create a conversation around the power of one charismatic individual to change people; the gap between conservatives and liberals and what that means on a local level; and the strength of our most deeply-held beliefs and how that might change with context.
Intimacyis an experiment inspired by a psychological study featured in theNew York Timesarticle, The 36 Questions That Lead to Love. A series of real and fictional interactions create intimate one on one conversations between characters, character and audience, actor and audience, and audience with audience. Why? Because Tinder exists.
Indeed, Friend!tells the story of a group of misfits, as they debate art in the basement office of an undergraduate art and literature magazine during the 20012002 school year. Together they examine poetry, aesthetics, and Islamophobia.
Squaresis a multi-media theatre project about nostalgia, memory, and technology. Created by Mallory Catlett, Aaron Landsman, Jim Findlay, and photographer Paul Shambroom, the piece is inspired by a collection of 583 found snapshots, all processed at a single lab in Minnesota in 1976.
Josh Kornbluth had always dreaded reaching 55the age when his own father had suffered the devastating stroke that eventually killed him. So it seemed a bizarre coincidence that, on his 55th birthday, Josh received an out-of-the-blue call from the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, which ended up offering him a spot as their first-ever artist-in-residence. Initially terrified of being or doing something inappropriate around dying people, Joshfirst as artist-in-residence, then later as a volunteer caregiverwas amazed to find, in his encounters with the hospices residents (as the patients there are called), powerful, loving, vibrant connections; these, in turn, profoundly affected his attitude towards deathand, even more surprisingly, towards life.The Bottomless Bowlis the story of the mostaliveplace Josh has ever been to.
Genevra Gallo-Bayiates Playwright
Iron Shoesis a collaboration between Kitka Womens Vocal Ensemble, stage director/choreographer Erika Chong Shuch, and members of her ESP Project, composer Janet Kutulas, and librettist Michelle Carter. A neo-feminist, futuristic folk opera combining original music and text, powerful singing, movement, text, humor, and environments of light,Iron Shoeswill transform source material drawn from Eastern European fairytales into a contemporary performance experience. Departing from conventional narrative forms, the collaborators will embark on an imaginative, evocative, and entertaining journey that uses archetypal elements from the tales as points of departure from which to explore themes of female empowerment and disempowerment, confinement and mobility, youth, age, and relationship to self, others, daily life, fate, and dreams.
Paul Shambroom Photographer/Co-creator
The Alligator Ballis the third part of Anne Galjours Cajun trilogy. In parts one and two, the characters survive hurricanes and floods; inThe Alligator Ball, they deal with fracking, the BP oil spill, and its aftermath. Grady and Rosetta Cheramie make enough money from drilling for oil on their property to buy and operate a fantastically successful alligator farm. Now theyve discovered that beneath the ground is an even richer prospect, natural gas, that could finance Gradys turtle farm venture. Their nephew is opposed to this and urges his uncle to support his venture of utilizing the fat from the slaughtered alligators to fuel cars. His vision is to Put an alligator in your tank. While making preparations for the celebrati
InTruest, Sam Shepard meetsThelma and Louisewhen we find two sisters in a kitchen. Smoking guns in hand, theyve just slain the iconic brothers of fraternal dramaTrue West. As these women pursue their own uniquely twisted American Dream in a landscape of canonical corpses, they dance an intricate psychological duet that leads us through a surreal terrain of wonder, danger, laughter, and yearning. A delightfully upsetting grapple by an emerging feminist playwright,Truestis about a pair of sisters on a brutal hunt in search of tenderness.
Maxine Hong Kingston Performer
Chlo Johnston Playwright
When his fatal shooting stirs a community into fevered protest, Vandas son Clarence becomes yet another hashtag in the ongoing fight against police brutality. Social media overwhelms and recreates Clarences story beyond even Vandas recognition. While struggling to find a sense of peace, Vanda meets Gracea well-meaning yet casual armchair activistand the need to mourn Clarences death and reclaim his story in the concrete offline spaces of the real world gains urgency.
The Chan Family Picnic, A Nouvelle Vaudevilleexplores an American legacy of anti-Asian legislation, sex trafficking, race, and exploitation through the story of a Chinese gold rush immigrant familythe story of hardscrabble peasants sold into indentured labor or prostitution, gamblers, brothel-keepers, and the intertwined stories of Chan and her grandfather, as they seek respectability despite the familys sex trafficking history. It includes politics, social commentary, jokes, and clan history told in song, dramatic scenes, bits of Cantonese opera, journalism, official testimony, and family letters.
Cottoned Like Candyexplores the value placed on bodies, how we accept the soul as a living anchor, and what can take place when were forced to choose one over the other. This story follows a newlywed couple Rene and Cole as they deal with Coles decision to start cross-dressing which leads to gender neutral pronouns and maybe, if he can convince his wife to staya complete gender transformation. All the while, Shana, Renes best friend silently fights with depressive urges to silence her soul and disappear her body forever.
Shelley Doty Playwright/Composer
Created with director Rachel Chavkin, storyteller-musicians James Harrison Monaco and Jerome Ellis turn their attention to visual art and our relationship to image as inspiration, seeking to create a new kind of museum tour.
In collaboration with The ESP Project
Madeleine Oldham, director of The Ground Floor, talks with the artists in residence about their projects, what theyve been doing in the room, what challenges and discoveries they are experiencing, and more. We call it a Toast Talk because we serve toast and encourage the audience to top a piece of toast with their favorite spread!
All events are first-come, first-served and take place at 999 Harrison Street, Berkeley, CA 94710.
Its 1968, and as a wave of student protest washes over Mexico City, a girl journeys into the ever-shifting capital to find a path to call her own. A beguiling, sweeping ode to a city flush with the promise of revolution, and to the times in life when everything seems possible.
45 Plays for Americas First Ladiesleaps from comic to tragic as it evokes the lives of the women who have served (and avoided serving) as First Lady, from Martha to Melania. A freight train of short plays, biographical, meta-theatrical, funny, serious, genre-bending, and just weird. A ride through American history seen through the lens of the women who found themselves in this undefined, hyper-visible role.
The rarely heard poetry of August Wilson receives a theatrical presentation by UNIVERSES, a nationally acclaimed performance ensemble from New York. Using the poetry of August Wilson as the foundation, UNIVERSES will create a new musical poetic exploration that explores the power of legacy and how it gets passed down to the next generation. A commission from The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and collaboration with Constanza Romero and the August Wilson Estate.
Alexandra Collier Playwright/Lyricist
Our Summer Residency Lab brings artists to Berkeley to work on projects in June (14 week residencies). Artists are selected based on a combination of existing relationships with Berkeley Rep and an application process. Interaction with other artists, staff, board and, when appropriate, the public are highly encouraged. There is no final presentation required at the end of the lab. If a project is in a stage where a reading or an audience would be useful, then that will be arranged. But there is no expectation of any kind of public showing. The purpose is to identify where the project is in its development path, and to move it to the next stage, whatever that stage may be.
in South Africas Western Cape.
Racism, sexism, gender, and sexuality ensnare us in lethal, depersonalizing binaries. In this piece loosely inspired by figures of the Harlem Renaissance, a black female conceptual artist uses a gallery installation to subvert the patrolled behavior expected of her voice, mind, and body. Using music as an ecstatic, critical tool of resistance, she explores how and if black women can escape the performance of themselves.
Upon their breakup, a womans ex-boyfriend posts intimate photos of her online. Tags her co-workers, family, and friends. She is 44. There is fallout. To take her image back, she creates her own naked photo spread. And then sets out to systematically destroy said ex in a massive public-shaming campaign. It doesnt exactly go as she planned. A very public investigation of very private pain. And vice versa.
Okuniis a new musical about a 16th-century Shinto priestess who rose from obscurity to become a legendary erotic performer celebrated for playing the roles of both men and women. Throughout her life, Okuni was a provocateur subverting those in power, challenging the cultural norms of her era, and, in the process, creating the new art form of Kabuki.
Summitis a new play set in New York City, Mexico City, and the Sonoran Desert. Two couples, one Mexican and the other North American, hope to work together to save the world, but disagreement, misunderstandings, and interpersonal dynamics complicate the pursuit. Andy is creating the play in collaboration with Ana Graham and Antonio Vega of the New York City and Mexico City based company Por Piedad Teatro.
Baruch Porras-Hernandez Playwright
Jonathan Spector Playwright
Lisa Marie Rollins Director
Mildred Ruiz-Sapp Co-creator
House Playis a new play being developed to perform specifically in houses that asks, Whats a home good for? When three deities are banished from the heavens, they must decide whether theyd like to become domesticated humans or wild animals.House Playis after diversifying the theatre audience by playing in towns that may not have traditional theatre buildings and by happening inside residential neighborhoods. Audiences will be invited to envision the possibilities of the home as spaces for community engagement, play, liberation, and falling in love with other people.House Playis written and directed by Diana Lynn Small with James Hapke, Heather Johnson, Marie Ponce, and Paige Tautz.
Bloken Engrishis about translation and about English as the dominant lingua franca. This play will look at what happens to language, culture, thought, and action when translation occursspecifically when languages are translated into English.
Jackie Sibblies Drury, Summer Lab 2013 & 2015
Performed as a 1960s salsa nightclub act,Castrois a musical extravaganza about the CIAs last ditch efforts to take care of the Castro Problem. This musical imagines an alternative reality in which Castro is assassinated and the CIA and Cuban exile community get exactly what they wanted. Say the creators, Its based on a true story, but we also made a lot of stuff up.
William Ruiz, aka Ninja Co-creator
ARear Window-style glimpse into a New York apartment building, where a couple seduces each other via emojis texted from separate rooms, a tour guide takes us on a metaphysical journey without leaving her fire escape, a Ukrainian refugee keeps company with her dark memories, and a preacher counsels his clients on how to be present, while he wrestles with the distractions of a broken heart. Lovers come together and separate, people die and others are born, and, despite our addiction to our devices, connections are made in this play that explores how on earth we can be together in the digital age.
The Ground Floor is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Time Warner Foundation Inc., the Tournesol Project, Bank of America, Frances Hellman & Warren Breslau, Michael & Sue Steinberg, and other individual supporters of Berkeley Reps Create Campaign.
Csar Alvarez Composer
Passageis a fantasia on E.M. ForstersA Passage to India, recasting the novel as a minimalist contemporary fable on the clash of cultures.Passagemeditates on perception and power in the encounter between two imaginary countries that are just thatimaginedby their own citizens and by citizens of the other country.
The New Frontieris Banjos and Fistfights. An ancient tune uncovered, and old wounds reopened. Haunting harmonies sung by three lads who cant stand to be in the same room with each other. These young men want to be Americas avatars. They want to tap into the underground river that feeds the soul and imagination of this country. One of them wants to get the hell out of this group because the other two are delusional, misguided lunatics. The other two also feel this way. And they love each other. Theyre the Frontiersmenthe most popular folk trio in America. Theyre at wits end, theyre about to break up, and Armageddon looms. Its October 23, 1962. Rachel CarsonsSilent Springtops the Bestseller List, the Civil Rights Movement is picking up steam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is coming to a head. So as America holds its breath, the threesome and their vocal coach have been corralled into a cabin in Big Sur by their stressed-out Manager to finally complete the album they owe Capitol Records. Things do not go according to plan. A play about moments of harmony amidst a sea of discord; about disillusionment and hope, estrangement and connection. A play about America, with lots of music. A comic drama about how to complete a damn song.
The Meaning of Ants in My Kitchenis a play about the presence of absence and explores those palpable spaces that exist in our lives when something or someone goes missing. Mary feels frozen in place while the world passes her by until an army of ants shows up and wakes her from her inertia. As the battle wages the consequences of her choice to retreat from life become real and manifest themselves in unexpected ways.
A private account of an unpredictable and ongoing medical disaster and our chronically nonsensical healthcare system.
During the second civil war, artists and intellectuals must travel constantly to survive and be ready for battle at a moments notice. Luckily, your trainer is here to prepare you with a series of lectures and exercises.
Recounted by the daughter, the play examines a Black familys relationship to swimming and lifelong determination to integrate the public pools in their city. A Berkeley Rep commission.
Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Deliciousis a meditation on ownership and authorship in modern food culture. Its a triptych that spans the evolution of Vietnamese noodles, which are indisputably better on the West Coast than in New York.
when it was attacked (a political act)
This play explores how we make decisions and what it takes to change our minds, using the revolutionary work of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman as a lens to look at the distance between what we know and what we think we know.
Min Kahng Playwright/Composer
A Berkeley Rep commission, exploring the power of water and the practice of radical healing in a Black community.
When Tomomis steamer pulls into San Francisco, her arrival coincides with the first wave of west coast Japanese internment. So when an old man on board offers to arrange her marriage to his son who lives out of harms way in New York, Tomomi knows she must accept. At once funny, intimate, and deeply theatrical,The Art of Gamanis an account of one womans struggle for independence and self-expression through her life and American history.
Salonika, Greece. 1941. As the Axis powers move into the city, its Sephardic Jewish population begins to experience a small taste of the very real horrors to come. A young boy and girl escape the tensions and trials of the world around them by disappearing into an absurd, magical realm of make-believe. However, this fantasy world is not at all an escape for those who live within it. The prince and princess of this land are equally troubled, eventually escaping into an invented world of the future, where a girl and boy in Salonika (much like themselves) tell stories to ease their pain. Experimenting with traditional Ladino folklore, the mixing of languages, talking animals, Ottoman shadow puppetry, and musical fusions of Middle Eastern and electronica sounds,Salonikablurs the line between reality and fiction and explores the multipleand inevitableways in which we are all connected through the power of storytelling.