The holidays are here, and everyone is feeling festive. Here at Berkeley Rep we're celebrating the season with the magical, whimsical, beautiful show Aurélia's Oratorio, which opens this Friday (December 4) and continues through January 24 in the Roda Theatre.
Created and directed by Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and performed by Aurélia Thierrée, the show has traveled the world, winning praise and inspiring wonder wherever it goes.
To give you a taste of this theatrical delight we offer these two tantalizing tidbits.
Top photo: Aurélia Thierrée in Aurélia's Oratorio. Photo by Richard Haughton
The other night before a performance of Tony Kushner’s Tiny Kushner, Assistant House Manager Octavia Driscoll was making her usual speech about turning cell phones off, pointing out exits, etc. When she got to the part where she thanked audience members for spending their time and money in support of the work at Berkeley Rep she was, according to Stage Manager Kimberly Mark Webb’s nightly report, “interrupted by cries of `You’re welcome!’ and sustained applause.”
In this season of gratitude, that kind of response points out one of the things we’re most grateful for at Berkeley Rep: an engaged, supportive audience that is willing and able to join us for an incredible artistic ride.
There’s so much to be grateful for at the Theatre this fall. Here’s just a sampling…
Other members of the Berkeley Rep community wanted to add their thanks as well.
Last week, I headed to New York for the Broadway debut of In the Next Room or the vibrator play,a work by Sarah Ruhl which was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and had its world premiere here last February. Sarah is one of the country’s foremost playwrights, so it wasn’t surprising that a number of New York theatres came knocking on Berkeley Rep’s doors last winter to have a look at Sarah’s newest work. It was Lincoln Center Theater that won the opportunity to mount the production at the Lyceum Theatre, directed once again by our own Les Waters.
I couldn’t miss Les' Broadway debut and the opportunity to see the further development of the play. Tony Taccone and Susie Medak were there too, along with several of the Theatre’s board members and donors who have supported our new play development program. This was a chance to see the fruits of our investment in new plays and to celebrate another entry in the canon of great American theatre.
Once again, the national media is buzzing about a play born at Berkeley Rep. Last night our associate artistic director, Les Waters, opened In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) at Broadway's Lyceum Theater. Berkeley Rep commissioned this script from MacArthur genius Sarah Ruhl and staged its world premiere earlier this year. Now Lincoln Center Theater has given it new life in New York, where both Sarah and Les are making their Broadway debuts.
This is the fourth show that Berkeley Rep has helped send to Broadway in the last four years. (One of them – Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking – is still running only a few blocks away!) The reviews for In the Next Room are out – and I'm proud to share the good vibrations. Here is a quote from the great review in the New York Times:
"INSPIRED... In the Next Room is a true novelty: a sex comedy designed not for sniggering teenage boys – or grown men who wish they were still sniggering teenage boys – but for adults with open hearts and minds... The ideas underpinning the play, about the fundamental lack of sympathy between men and women of the period, and the dubious scientific theories that sometimes reinforced women’s subjugation, are serious. In the Next Room illuminates with a light touch – a soft, flickering light rather than a moralizing glare – how much control men had over women’s lives, bodies and thoughts, even their most intimate sensations. [It] is directed by Les Waters with a fine sensitivity to its varied textures. Insightful, fresh and funny, the play is as rich in thought as it is in feeling."
To read all the wonderful reviews, check out the press release I sent this morning. Or you can take a stroll down "Hysteria Lane" with Maria Dizzia, the woman who originated the role of Mrs. Daldry on our stage and is now reprising it on Broadway. (She also played the title role in our Berkeley and off-Broadway productions of Eurydice.) The Times posted a slideshow of In the Next Room alongside its review that features charming commentary from Maria.
I am not a tremendously emotional person. I rarely cry at movies, the only books that make me sniffly are ones in which small furry things of the animal variety meet an untimely end, and any sadness I feel during airport goodbyes is usually overwhelmed by my anxiety about flying. However, it was difficult not to get a little teary-eyed last Sunday night during the closing number of American Idiot, and when the curtain rose again for the cast's final Berkeley Rep encore performance, I had to prod fellow intern (sorry, fellow fellow) Lizz Guzman for a tissue. Thankfully, she came prepared.
The cast seemed equally emotional, basking in the audience's enthusiastic applause for three separate curtain calls, glistening with sweat and tears, and coming together at the end of it all in a giant enthusiastic dog pile on John Gallagher, Jr. We, the audience, were lucky to experience the magical closing night performance of American Idiot, and we knew it. The actors sang and danced as though their lives depended on it, and we reciprocated by screaming and clapping as though ours did too.
Following the performance, cast and crew headed over to Hotel Shattuck Plaza for a closing-night celebration of wine, dancing, and food. Highlights included catering by the amazing local Italian food mecca, Trattoria Siciliana, Green Day's gracious and emotional support of the project, and dancing with the cast and staff of Berkeley Rep.
As if being a hit on Broadway wasn’t enough, Wishful Drinking star Carrie Fisher is also a bestselling writer once again. The paperback edition of the book version of her autobiographical show, not coincidentally called Wishful Drinking, zoomed up the New York Times bestseller chart to No. 7.
Carrie seems to be having a grand time with New York — and vice-versa.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Wishful Drinking since it departed from Berkeley Rep last summer, you have a lot to catch up on. Herewith, a handy guide to the recent flares in the Wishful galaxy.
First of all, the show, a production of the Roundabout Theatre Company, has extended through January 17 at Studio 54. If you’re going to be in New York before then, you might want some tickets.
Carrie sat for a terrific, in-depth interview with Charlie Rose. Unfortunately, Mr. Rose and his people won’t let us share the video with you here on the blog, so you need to go to his website, enter “Carrie Fisher” into the search box, and settle in for the 24-minute, 28-second interview.
CNN’s Joy Behar, however, will let us share part of her interview with Carrie.
Every year the challenge is put forth, and every year, that challenge is clobbered.
The mission is this: photographer Kevin Berne spends a day at Berkeley Rep shooting the entire staff of Berkeley Rep, one department at a time. The challenge is for each department to come up with an idea, a gimmick, a clever way of demonstrating the overwhelming coolness of their particular nook and/or cranny of the Theatre.
This year, as you'll see from the parade of photos below, the ideas range from the obvious to the obscure and everything in between. Perhaps not surprisingly, creativity is in abundant supply around here. Many thanks to Pauline Luppert of the marketing and communications department for compiling Kevin's as-always superb photos. (Note: Pauline was absent on photo day, but she is represented in the marketing photo — see if you can figure out how.)
As much as we'd love to share the bounty of brilliant writing, great laughs, and incredible performances contained in Tiny Kushner (which closes on Sunday, November 29) right here on the blog, alas, we cannot. Live theatre needs to be seen live. And in a theatre.
But, through the wonder of modern technology, we are able to share some choice moments from this collection of five sparkling short works by the inestimable Tony Kushner, all under the direction of Tony Taccone.
Please enjoy this sneak peek...
Top photo: Jim Lichtsheidl (left) and J.C. Cutler in Tiny Kushner. Photo by mellopix.com
Take a peek inside some of San Francisco's most beautiful high-altitude homes this weekend and raise money for Berkeley Rep.
You are invited to an exclusive viewing of the Millennium Towers Condos in San Francisco during their Icons of Design event, which features 25 of the Bay Area’s finest interior designers decorating the four homes on the 52nd floor of the Towers. Each weekend benefits various Bay Area charities, and all proceeds for this weekend — November 7 and 8 — will be donated to Berkeley Rep! Touring is open to the public, and tickets are $25.
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote about some of the designers and their designs. Read the article.
Photo by Robert Whitworth
Without question, this is, hands down, my new favorite job responsibility.
Late last week Carmel Dean, American Idiot's musical director, stopped by my desk with a funny look on her face, and a question. "When Steven comes back next week, where is he staying?"
What we call the American Idiot "creatives" — director Michael Mayer, music orchestrator, arranger, and supervisor Tom Kitt, and choreographer Steven Hoggett, among others — are returning to Berkeley for the final two weeks of the show's run so that they can prepare it for the next stage of its development. And Carmel, well, she had a debt to settle.