Berkeley Rep Blog

February 2010

Strange tattoos, cocktails, and you

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Feb 26

CSD tattoos

Previews begin tonight for Naomi Iizuka's Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, and we're hoping some audience members leave this world premiere with a new tattoo — or two. In the tradition of Japanese tattooing, or "irezumi," which you'll hear about in the play, we decided to invite audience members to get a tattoo in the lobby.

OK, so it's a temporary tattoo, but like the famed interlocking tattoos that decorated lovers of yesteryear, we're offering one image featuring a dragon and the other filled with billowing clouds of steam. Separately, the tattoos are cool. Together, they're hot. Tattoo up...and bring a friend.

A certain number of tattoos will be made available each night, so get them while you can.

CSD cocktails 1

What better way to celebrate your new tattoo than with the perfect Strange Devices cocktail?

You can savor Naomi's delectable world premiere in more ways than one. During scenes set in contemporary Japan, you’ll see characters enjoying vivid, jewel-toned cocktails that look so delicious we just had to bring them to life off stage.

  • The Blue Drink
    The sweet punch of Bacardi rum tames the delicious tang of grapefruit juice while cerulean shades of Curaçao give this refreshing cocktail the happiest kind of blues – the kind served over ice.
  • The Green Drink
    When the crisp pairing of Absolut Citron and white cranberry juice meets the luscious sweetness of Midori melon liqueur, other cocktails turn green with envy.

In Strange Devices, you've got a wonderfully sexy, enigmatic play and you've got your ink and your drink. Who could ask for anything more?

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Left to our own Devices: a peek behind the scenes

posted by Chad Jones on Thu, Feb 25

Strange Devices

On the first day of rehearsal for a new show, it's customary for the entire company to gather and meet the cast and creative team. Then everyone settles in for a design presentation by the director and designers.

In the case of Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, the presentation was too good not to share. Director Les Waters takes us inside this world premiere from Naomi Iizuka, and that's a fascinating place to be — especially when seen through the eyes of Pauline Luppert, our multimedia manager.

The show begins previews Friday, February 26 and opens on Wednesday, March 3 in the Roda Theatre.

Enjoy this insider's look and make friends with something Strange.

Above photo: Bruce McKenize and Teresa Avia Lim in Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West. Photo courtesy of


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Concerning Johnny Wu and Strange Devices

posted by Cheshire Isaacs on Tue, Feb 23

We're gearing up for the world premiere of Naomi Iizuka's Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, and we're pretty excited. Previews begin Friday, Johnny_WuFebruary 26 in the Roda Theatre, and opens on Wednesday, March 3.

It's going to be, in our humble opinion, amazing. The combination of Naomi with director Les Waters, along with an incredible cast and creative team, couldn't be more thrilling. This is a sexy, mysterious show, and that's a hard-to-beat combo.

Johnny Wu, one of the actors in Strange Devices, created a video for his blog that begins with his road trip from Los Angeles to Berkeley and continues with glimpses of the rehearsal process and interviews with Les, assistant director Mina Morita, co-star Bruce McKenzie, sound designer Bray Poor, and others.

It's a fun video, and Johnny has graciously shared it with us so that we could share it with you. Enjoy. (And we couldn't help noticing Johnny's excellent, not to mention appropriate, choice of music to underscore the video. We can never get enough Green Day.)

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Jaden Wiggins "brightens up" Coming Home

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, Feb 22

Jaden Wiggins

Could it be a star is born at Berkeley Rep?

Oakland Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse wrote a terrific piece in last Sunday's newspaper about Jaden Malik Wiggins, the 11-year-old actor in Athol Fugard's Coming Home.

In the show, which closes on Sunday, February 28, Jaden plays Mannetjie Jonkers, the son of Veronica, the main character played by Roslyn Ruff. Kohle T. Bolton, a dynamic 5-year-old, plays the younger version of Jaden's character.

Thomas Silcott, another of Jaden's adult co-stars, makes some astute observations about the young actor:

"Of the 11-year-olds I've seen on stage, a lot of them are very dutiful and will do anything you ask. But they don't go beyond that and take it on themselves. And that's what Jaden does. He willingly becomes more creative...the boy is like a sponge. He's really smart, very talented and knows how to take what you teach him and make it work."

Read the entire post

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Fugard directs at his own South African theatre

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, Feb 17

Athol Fugard
Athol Fugard is in the midst of a creative burst. The legendary 77-year-old playwright, director, and actor has written several new plays, including Coming Home (continuing through February 28 on the Thrust Stage) and Have You Seen Us?, which had its world premiere at the Long Wharf Theatre.

Fugard is even directing his most recent play, The Train Driver, which has its world premiere at the Athol Fugard Theatre in Capetown's District 6, a formerly all-white district.

Last fall, Fugard discussed The Train Driver with the Hartford Courant. "This may be the most important one I've ever written as far as I'm concerned for personal reasons," Fugard said. "I know The Train Driver will resonate for all South Africans when they see it as something that deals with themselves. This is about us, as South Africans."

The BBC has been covering Fugard's return to Capetown and his work on The Train Driver.

Watch the television coverage.

Listen to the radio coverage.

In the radio piece, the actor Alan Rickman praises Fugard. "Everyone of my generation remembers the first time they saw his work in England, " Rickman says, "and it's life changing."

Fugard is far from done. He reports that he's at work on yet another new play, this one called The Blue Iris.

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Idiot marquee goes up on Broadway

posted by Chad Jones on Tue, Feb 16

St. James marquee

Welcome to Broadway, American Idiot.

Managing Director Susie Medak snapped that photo of the spiffy new marquee at the St. James Theatre on West 44th Street. Out with the old — goodbye and thank you, Finian's Rainbow — and in with the new. Hello, American Idiot!

Susie was in New York to visit a rehearsal, where she ran into director Michael Mayer and orchestrator/arranger/musical supervisor Tom Kitt.

AI - Mayer & Kitt

The Idiot crew has been incredibly busy. Everyone's back in rehearsal preparing for the first preview on March 24, and the cast spent much of the weekend at New York's Electric Lady Studios recording the cast album.

Tickets went on sale to the general public on Valentine's Day. Visit the show's official website for information.

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Sing song, sell tickets

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, Feb 12

21 Guns

Tickets to the Broadway production of Green Day's American Idiot go on sale at midnight, Sunday, February 14 (what a sweet way to celebrate Valentine's Day!), and to commemorate this auspicious event, we'd like to share Michael Riedel's column from the New York Post.

After describing the Tony Awards as the "Toyota of awards shows," Michael points out that the most lucrative awards show on television is turning out to be the Grammy Awards. On this year's broadcast, Green Day was joined by the Broadway cast of American Idiot to perform the Grammy-nominated song "21 Guns."

Apparently the 26.6 million viewers liked what they saw. Michael reports:

"By the end of the night, American Idiot had sold nearly $1 million worth of tickets. Sales have been strong through the week, sources say, and the musical is beginning to show real hit potential."

We could have told him that. Read the column in its entirety .

For tickets to American Idiot at the St. James Theatre, visit the show's official site .

Above photo: Rebecca Naomi Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong perform "21 Guns" at the Grammy Awards. Photo courtesy of

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How does Berkeley Rep enrich your community?

posted by Lynn Eve Komaromi on Wed, Feb 10

Berkeley Rep has been invited to participate in GreatNonprofits’ 2010 Arts Appreciation Campaign. The campaign’s purpose is to recognize top-rated nonprofits that enrich your community through the arts.

Clapping audience 2

We need your help. If we receive at least 10 positive reviews by February 28 via our page on the Great Nonprofits website, Berkeley Rep will receive exposure to potential donors via their Top-Rated Arts Nonprofits list, as well as on Guidestar, the premier site for philanthropic research on the web. Your review of Berkeley Rep can make an impact (more than 450,000 people visited GreatNonprofits website last year). Already, we have received a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator – so help keep the trend going!

Your review needn’t be long. Just share how you feel Berkeley Rep makes a difference in our community. When you visit the site, be sure to choose "Arts Appreciation Campaign" from the drop-down menu of campaigns in the review template.

Thank you. As ever, we appreciate your help and support.

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Berkeley Rep audiences raise thousands for Haiti

posted by Chad Jones on Tue, Feb 9

Haiti map

Tremendous thanks to Berkeley Rep’s generous audiences for donating to Haiti earthquake relief efforts through a small-change campaign in our Theatre lobbies.

Audiences at Aurélia’s Oratorio in the Roda Theatre and Coming Home on the Thrust Stage donated $7,835 to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian group that, to quote the website, “works in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.”

Since the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, Doctors Without Borders has treated more than 11,000 patients in Haiti, and there’s so much more to be done. You can make a donation to Doctors Without Borders here.

Again, our thanks to Berkeley Rep audience members for their generosity.

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African Film Festival at BAM/PFA

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, Feb 3

African Film Festival
In the spirit of Athol Fugard's Coming Home, a play that invites audiences to explore the rich complexity of African culture, comes news of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive's African Film Festival.

Here's a message from our friends at BAM/PFA:

Become a BAM/PFA member and receive discounted tickets to the African Film Festival, showing now at PFA through February 24. This annual series invites Bay Area audiences to experience the vibrant voices and visions of recent cinema from across the African continent. Members also receive discounted PFA tickets year round, free admission to BAM/PFA's new live performance series L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA, and more!

Among the upcoming films are:

Sacred Places - Thursday, February 4 (Cameroon/France, 2009). Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Téno profiles a poor but lively neighborhood in the capital of Burkina Faso, where a cine-club proprietor tries to include Burkinabe films among the action and Bollywood fare. (70 mins)

Dance Dance Revolution: Contemporary African Dance on Film - Wednesday, February 10 (U.S., U.K., Mozambique, 2007–2008). Two remarkable films on contemporary African choreography: Nora, a dance-film about and starring Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire; and Movement (R)Evolution Africa, which follows nine African choreographers on a U.S. tour. (100 mins)

Prince of Broadway - Thursday, February 18 (U.S., 2008). Director Sean Baker in person. “It’s a hard knock-off life” for a Ghanaian immigrant saddled with a baby boy amid the hustlers of New York’s Garment District. From the director of Greg the Bunny; winner of the L.A. Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and the Special Jury Award from Locarno. (100 mins)

For a complete schedule and for more information visit, Or call the BAM/PFA membership office at 510 643-9632 before February 28 and receive 20 percent off the purchase of any membership over $50 when you mention the African Film Festival.

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