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Happy new (book, film, comedy) year!

posted by Terence Keane on Fri, Jan 9, 2009
in At the theatre

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In my last post, I talked about the old year -- how the critics looked back at 2008 and praised our shows. Well, what about the new year? Let's look forward to 2009...

This year, Berkeley Rep is all over the place -- with new books, movies, comedies. It's not just shows here on Addison St. I think it's pretty cool all the things we're connected to this year:

  • We're gonna be in pictures! Spike Lee fell in love with Passing Strange, and saw it again and again in New York. So, at the end of the show's Broadway run, he filmed two performances. I flew back east to be in the audience for this, and it totally rocked! The theatre was packed, the cast was pumped, the band was tearing it up, and the audience was on its feet for much of the show. Next Friday, Spike debuts the film at Sundance -- the first time he's ever showed a film at the festival. Unfortunately I can't go to Park City for the premiere, but I'm dying to see the movie... and to sing along with a 30-foot-tall Stew on screen.

  • Berkeley Rep bestseller? If you enjoyed watching Carrie Fisher dishing dirt in Wishful Drinking last year (and lots of people did, judging by the box-office records she broke), then you'll want to know that she just released the script in book form. In fact, it's at #17 on the New York Times bestseller list! I think it would be phenomenal if a script from our stage topped that particular list, so consider buying a copy. If that show doesn't do it for you, other books with Berkeley Rep roots are on the way: this year, TCG will publish Culture Clash's Zorro in Hell and the stage version of Tony Kushner's Brundibar.

  • On the road again: Carrie continues her tour this year, taking Wishful Drinking to Seattle Rep in April. Danny Hoch is headed to Los Angeles this month with Taking Over, and The Arabian Nights is off to Kansas City and Chicago as soon as it finishes its run here. I really have to thank Tony (our artistic director) for simplifying my Christmas shopping over the last few years. With our shows traveling so much, I just pick up the phone and buy a couple of tickets to one of our plays as they pass through the places where my relatives live.

  • In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)Plug in: We're in the midst of our commissioning project, our pledge to create 50 new plays by 2013. It's a pretty bold goal, and one of the reasons I'm proud to work here. As our literary manager, Madeleine, says in the program for our next play, "It seems like a no-brainer. If you don't write any new plays, there won't be any new plays. And without them, theatre will get stuck in the past and lose its potency as a catalyst for contemporary dialogue." So don't miss our next show. It's a world premiere, and it's called In the Next Room (or the vibrator play). Sarah Ruhl and Les Waters -- the playwright and director, respectively -- also worked together on one of my favorite shows of the last decade, if not all time: Eurydice. I started here just before we opened that show, and it reassured me I was in the right place. (We just finished the photo shoot for In the Next Room yesterday. That's the campy image at right.)

  • Other new shows: I'm also eager to see two other comedies we've got on tap this spring: The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which is another totally twisted story by the guy who wrote The Pillowman, and You, Nero.

So it's a new year, indeed -- full of new plays and new ways of bringing our work to a larger audience. Who knows? Maybe the next big thing will be the Super Susie comic book about the business adventures of our boss, or maybe the Carrie Fisher action figure.

Um... wait a second...


Photo of Paul Niebanck and Maria Dizzia by


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