Berkeley Rep Blog

January 2010

In the next Room wins the Glickman Award!

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Jan 29

In the Next Room 2

Congratulations to Sarah Ruhl! Her In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) has been selected as the winner of the annual Will Glickman Award, which is chosen by a panel of top Bay Area theatre critics and given to the author of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area.

“I'm very honored,” Sarah remarked. “And I'm thrilled to have a home like Berkeley Rep in the Bay Area. I was extremely proud of In the Next Room's premiere.”

Sarah Ruhl

“I’m pleased that Sarah and I had another opportunity to collaborate, and delighted that her scripts continue to receive the recognition they so richly deserve,” added Associate Artistic Director Les Waters, who staged the show in Berkeley and on Broadway. “I’ve devoted my career to developing and directing new plays, so I’m particularly proud of In the Next Room and the other work coming out of Berkeley Rep’s commissioning program.”

The Will Glickman Award has been given annually since 1984. Created to honor playwright and screenwriter Will Glickman, the goal of the award is to encourage new plays and their production as invaluable investments in American theatre. Theatre Bay Area, the nation’s largest regional theatre service organization, has administered the award since 2004.

Les Waters

Berkeley Rep debuted three previous winners: Hurricane / Mauvais Temps by Anne Galjour; The People’s Temple by Leigh Fondakowski with Greg Pierotti, Stephen Wangh, and Margo Hall; and Yankee Dawg You Die by Philip Kan Gotanda. Before becoming artistic director of Berkeley Rep, Tony Taccone also worked on another winning script at the Eureka Theatre: Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. Other playwrights who have been honored include Liz Duffy Adams, Adam Bock, John Fisher, Brian Freeman, Doug Holsclaw, Dan Hoyle, Denis Johnson, Cherrie Moraga, Brighde Mullins, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Octavio Solis, Charlie Varon, and Erin Cressida Wilson.

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American Idiot cast announced, Grammy appearance set

posted by Chad Jones on Thu, Jan 28

American Idiot Broadway (crop)

Lots of news in the world of American Idiot on Broadway!

The cast has been announced, and in addition to the folks we saw last fall at Berkeley Rep — John Gallagher, Jr., Michael Esper, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Christina Sajous, Mary Faber, Tony Vincent, Declan Bennett, Andrew Call, Gerard Canonico, Miguel Cervantes, Joshua Henry, Brian Charles Johnson, Lorin Latarro, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman, Ben Thompson, Alysha Umphress, and Libby Winter — the Broadway company is welcoming Tony Award-nominee Stark Sands, Van Hughes, Joshua Kobak, Leslie McDonel, and Aspen Vincent.

"This wildly gifted company takes my breath away," director Michael Mayer said in a statement. "They bring such depth and passion to the material. It is a rare honor to be blessed with such spectacularly imaginative performers."

Green Day, along with the entire cast of American Idiot will perform the two-time Grammy-nominated song "21 Guns" at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards this Sunday, January 31. The awards are broadcast on CBS beginning at 8pm.

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The website for American Idiot (as seen above) is now live, and tickets are now available exclusively to American Express cardholders through February 13. Tickets go on sale to everyone on February 14. Performances begin March 24 at the St. James Theatre, and opening is set for April 20.

You can now follow American Idiot on Twitter at AmericanIdiotNY and on Facebook

There's also a whole new line of American Idiot merchandise available at Green Day's web store, including work shorts (seen at right) for $75.

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Coming Home: more praise and a sneak peek

posted by Chad Jones on Tue, Jan 26

Coming Home 5
More good reviews of Athol Fugard's Coming Home have arrived.

Leslie Katz in the San Francisco Examiner writes: 

"Key to this production’s success are standout performances by Roslyn Ruff as Veronica and Thomas Silcott as Alfred, whose changing emotions, feelings and physical health are revealed in their every word, song and body movement. They sell every line of Fugard’s often lyrical dialogue. Their ongoing friendship, which evolves over a course of years in the play’s two acts, forms the backbone of this compelling piece."

Read the entire review.

Zachary Ritter wrote a review for The Daily Californian that really should be read in its entirety. Read the article.

The East Bay Express wrote a nice feature on Coming Home. Read it here. And director Gordon Edelstein was interviewed on KPFA's Against the Grain. Listen to the show.

And finally, here's the Coming Home trailer. Please enjoy.

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Top photo: Roslyn Ruff and Kohle Thomas Bolton in Coming Home. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

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Fugard, Aurelia in the news

posted by Chad Jones on Thu, Jan 21

Coming Home 4
Last night's opening of Athol Fugard's Coming Home was a thrilling experience. Audience members who battled the ongoing El Niño deluge were rewarded with deeply emotional performances by the cast and superb direction by Gordon Edelstein.

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle brought us several post-opening treats, the first of which is Robert Hurwitt's wonderful interview with Fugard, who talks about living in San Diego (surf's up!), his age and health (77 and so-so), and his recent creative spurt.

Here's Fugard talking about Veronica, the young woman we met in Valley Song whose story continues in Coming Home:

"Same woman who left the village at the end and went to Cape Town to be part of the glorious new South Africa, when so many politicians made so many promises. What's happened over the years, not just to this woman but to the nation, I think, has created a degree of disillusion and cynicism unequaled in our history. We had a president, Thabo Mbeki, for whom I had no admiration, who totally ignored the relationship between AIDS and antiretroviral drugs, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of children and adults have died who should be alive.

"Desmond Tutu, that magnificent man, has said that AIDS and its mismanagement by that government in South Africa killed more people than apartheid. That is central to the play."

Read the entire story.

For more on Fugard and South Africa, you might be interested to read a recent feature on the playwright and his considerable body of work from the Chicago Sun-Times focusing on three Fugard plays — "Master Harold”...and the Boys, The Island, and Sizwe Banzi Is Dead — being produced in the Chicago area over the next six months. Read the story.

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The sounds of South Africa in Coming Home

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, Jan 20

Coming Home 3
The music of South Africa plays a vital role in director Gordon Edelstein's production of Coming Home by Athol Fugard.

The drama, opening tonight, features some extraordinary sounds of Fugard's homeland, and Gordon was kind enough to share the evening's playlist.

Before the show you will hear:

"Asambeni Sonke" by Johnson Mikhalale from the album Freedom Fire: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 3)

"Nansi Ilmali" by Ladysmith Black Mambazo from the album Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 1)

"1906" by Bambata from the album 1906

"Yekanini" by Shiyani Ngcobo from the album Indestructible Shiyani Ngcobo

"Emthonjeni Womculo" by Mahlathini, Nezintombi. Zomgqashiyo & The Makgona Tsohle Band from the album Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 1)

"Thul'ulalele by Amaswazi Emvelo from the album Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 1)

"Pata Pata" by Miriam Makeba from the album Miriam Makeba - Her Essential Recordings

"9 15" by Amampondo from the album Vuyani or The Great South African Trip

"Thuto Kelefa" by Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens from the album Freedom Fire: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 3)

"Uyeyeni" by Mzwakhe Mbuli from the album Resistance Is Defence

"Masolel A Banana" by Mahotella Queens from the album Freedom Fire: The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (Vol. 3)

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The amazing Athol Fugard

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Jan 15

Coming Home 2
Tonight, on the Thrust Stage, Athol Fugard's Coming Home begins previews (opening night is Wednesday, January 20). This incredibly moving play, directed by Gordon Edelstein, addresses the complexities of contemporary post-apartheid South Africa in a deeply personal way.

In today's San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, and Contra Costa Times, theatre writer Karen D'Souza  writes about Coming Home, and her article features a wonderful interview with Fugard.

Here he is commenting on the play: "Children are the seeds of hope; they are the only hope of any society," he says. "I hope that people come away from the play with a reverence for life, the fragility of life."

Read the entire article.

The San Francsico Chronicle's Ovation section also focused on Coming Home for a recurring feature they do on significant props in local productions. In this case, they zeroed in on a tin that contains pumpkin seeds and other surprising symbols of hope.

Read the story.

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A taste of South Africa in Coming Home

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, Jan 13

South Africa's master playwright Athol Fugard returns to Berkeley Rep with the moving drama Coming Home, which begins previews this Friday on the Thrust Stage.

Our resident mixologists always like to create specialty drinks to complement each show. For Coming Home, they've outdone themselves by crafting two unique cocktails made with some traditional South African ingredients. Patrons will be able to immerse themselves in the world of Fugard's drama and enjoy an authentic taste of his homeland.

Coming Home cocktails 2

Here are the Coming Home cocktails:

  • The Amarula Cream
    Amarula Cream, a South African liqueur made from African Marula tree fruit (a favorite elephant snack), is artfully blended with Crème de Cacao, Amaretto, and milk.
  • The Van der Hum
    Made in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, Van der Hum is a unique tangerine-flavored liqueur that mixes beautifully with Korbel brandy, orange juice, and cranberry juice.

Coming Home opens January 20 and continues through February 28. For information visit our website or call the box office at 510 647-2949.

Photo by Nora Merecicky

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The magic of Aurelia extends! And Aurelia's on the radio!

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Jan 8

AO dresser (crop)

Aurélia's Oratorio has been such a hit with Berkeley Rep audiences that the show will extend for FIVE PERFORMANCES ONLY January 28 through 31 in the Roda Theatre.

The show that has ignited imaginations and delighted Bay Area audiences must close January 31. The final performances are:

  • Thursday, January 28 at 8pm
  • Friday, January 29 at 8pm
  • Saturday, January 30 at 2pm
  • Saturday, January 30 at 8pm
  • Sunday, January 31 at 2pm

Experience this unique theatrical event or make a gift of tickets to friends and family. Tickets start at $33 (half that if you're under 30!). Visit our online box office or call the box office at 510 647-2949. Box office hours are noon to 7pm Tuesday through Sunday.

And be sure to catch Aurélia Thierrée interviewed on Sedge Thompson's West Coast Live this Saturday, January 9. The show is carried live on KALW 97.1 FM from 10am to noon. The show is also streamed live kalw.org at 10am and on jeffnet.org at 11am.

Above photo: Aurélia Thierrée in Aurélia's Oratorio. Photo by Richard Haughton

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American Idiot heading to Broadway!

posted by Chad Jones on Tue, Jan 5

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Looks like St. Jimmy is heading for the St. James.

Yes, Green Day's American Idiot, which had its world premiere last September at Berkeley Rep, is going to Broadway.

Producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, in association with Berkeley Rep, announced today that American Idiot will begin performances in March at the St. James Theatre, former home of the long-running The Producers and the soon-to-close revival of Finian's Rainbow.

4248008405_46e189f4bf As in Berkeley, Michael Mayer directs and collaborates on the book with Billie Joe Armstrong. Steven Hoggett choreographs and Tom Kitt serves as orchestrator, arranger, and musical supervisor. The design team includes Christine Jones (set), Andrea Lauer (costumes), Kevin Adams (lights), Brian Ronan (sound), and Darrel Maloney (video and projection).

"Experiencing American Idiot on stage in Berkeley was incredible," said Green Day's guitarist and lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. " We have really enjoyed working with Michael, Steven, Tom, and the cast. The energy and chemistry of the group is contagious. Michael Mayer was able to bring life to the characters of American Idiot, and Tom Kitt's musical arrangements are breathtaking. We're s proud that the show is coming to Broadway!"

No casting has been announced, but the previews will begin March 24 with an opening night scheduled for April 20.

In the last five years, five shows have moved from Berkeley to Broadway: Sarah Jones' Bridge & Tunnel (2006), Stew's Passing Strange (2008), Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking (2009), Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) (2009), and now American Idiot.

Visit AmericanIdiotOnBroadway.com to sign up for updates about the show..

Here's Green Day ringing in the New Year, performing "21 Guns" on New Year's Eve with Carson Daly.

Top photo: John Gallagher, Jr. as Johnny and Tony Vincent as St. Jimmy in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre production of Green Day's American Idiot. Photo courtesy of mellopix.com.

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