Berkeley Rep Blog

May 2010

The fine art of fine actors

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, May 28

DiDi painting

It should come as no surprise to anyone that actors are multi-talented beings. Not only can they walk and talk at the same time (some can even dance and sing simultaneously!), but many of them also act and engage in other artistic pursuits.

For a case in point, we need look no further than the cast of In the Wake, now in the Roda Theatre. Did you know that Heidi Schreck, who plays Ellen, is also a successful playwright? The Obie-winning actor had a successful off-Broadway debut last year with a play called Creature.

Here's a snippet about Heidi and the play from Time Out New York:

Creature’s subject is the extraordinary Margery Kempe (1373–1438), an Englishwoman whose bourgeois existence as the wife of a beer brewer was marked by a series of intense mystical revelations. Kempe bore 14 children and made several pilgrimages to the Holy Land, eventually dictating her ecstatic visions to two clerks. Her Book of Margery Kempe is considered by some to be the first autobiography in English.

“I totally fell in love with her,” Schreck says about her first contact with Kempe’s book in college. “She’s a very unreliable narrator, so the book is hilarious. You’re watching her talk about how she’s so pious and God’s chosen, but you can tell she’s so far from the mark; she’s really flawed and vain and prideful—just really human.”

Heidi's Wake Obie-winning co-star, Deirdre O'Connell, who plays Judy, is another hyphenate. She's an actor-painter. Deirdre creates small paintings — about 10 inches by 10 inches — inspired by the work of Anton Chekhov. Didi, as she is known, has appeared in many Chekhov plays during her 25-year

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Take a look at In the Wake

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, May 26

Wake - Carson & Heidi

How do you accurately describe a play that is full of big drama, big laughs, and big ideas? You don't even try and let words and pictures attempt to do the job.

Check out this trailer for the world-premiere production of Lisa Kron's In the Wake, running through June 27 in the Roda Theatre.

Top photo: Carson Elrod and Heidi Schreck in the world-premiere production of Lisa Kron's In the Wake at Berkeley Rep. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.

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Checking in on NYC awards season: Berkeley Rep shows win!

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, May 24

Michael Mayer

This is the time of year when they're practically hurling awards at shows in New York, and it's all leading up to the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 13.

Just yesterday (Sunday, May 23), the Drama Desk handed the Outstanding Director of a Musical Award to Michael Mayer for his work on Green Day's American Idiot, which also earned the 2010 ITBA Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical from the Independent Theater Bloggers Association. (Michael is seen in the above American Idiot rehearsal photo in the orange T-shirt; photo by Carole Litwin.)

Tony Taccone, Berkeley Rep's artistic director, had this to say about American Idiot's achievements: “All of us at Berkeley Rep send our congratulations to Michael and our collaborators on American Idiot. When we develop new shows at Berkeley Rep, our focus is on creating work that entertains and invigorates Bay Area audiences. Their support and their intelligence make it a pleasure to launch plays here. But it is also gratifying to see our shows go on to enjoy successful runs on Broadway and beyond. We are extremely proud and enormously grateful that our work continues to receive such recognition.”

In other awards news...

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Sneak peek at Leguizamo's Klass Klown

posted by Chad Jones on Sat, May 22

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Berkeley Rep's Fireworks festival is right around the corner. John Leguizamo kicks things off June 1 with a show he's been working on called Klass Klown. When he did the show at the La Jolla Playhouse, it was called Diary of a Mad Man. Who knows what it will end up being called. We're just thrilled John is bringing his extraordinary talent to Berkeley Rep!

If you'd like to immerse yourself in John's work, we highly recommend going to his official website and spending some time amid the impressive collection of videos housed there.

Here's a little peek at Klass Klown.

Find more information about the Fireworks festival, which also includes David Sedaris (who is completely sold out — apologies if you didn't get your tickets), Dan Hoyle, and Wes "Scoop" Nisker.

Above photo: John Leguizamo photo by Carol Rosegg.

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In the Wake is awash in great reviews!

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, May 21

Wake - Heidi & Emily

It's always great to end a festive opening week with nice reviews. And reviews for the world premiere of Lisa Kron's In the Wake are really nice. Here's a sampling (click on the newspaper name to read the complete review).

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
"The characters are smart, quick and attractive. But what's astonishing is the ease and wit with which Kron and director Leigh Silverman — the same team that created the brilliant Well — make the rapid volley of political arguments and artistic concepts not only exciting but also funny, moving and undeniably sexy. The heady blend of smart dialogue and characters, depicted by a superb cast, at times makes it a candidate to be the Angels in America of the Bush II decade… You'll want to be able to say you saw it.”

From the San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group:
“A smart and savory feast of angst and ideas… bursting with equal parts metaphor, romance and rhetoric. The personal and the political collide in this riveting world premiere… It’s impossible to deny the relevance of its themes, such as the legacy of Bush America in the world today.”

From KGO 810AM
“Another magical evening of great theatre at Berkeley Rep.”

In the Wake continues in the Roda Theatre through June 27. Find information and buy tickets.

Above photo: Heidi Schreck (left) and Emily Donahoe star in the world premiere drama In the Wake at Berkeley Rep. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.

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Girlfriend band rocks Lisa Kron's birthday and night/OUT!

posted by Chad Jones on Thu, May 20

Girlfriend band

Is it luck or is it fate? Tonight, Thursday, May 20, is our final night/OUT post-show party of the season (if you don't know, night/OUT is a festive frolic for the LGBT community featuring free wine from Raymond, beer from Triple Rock, and tasty bites from Tomatina).

And today just happens to be the birthday of Lisa Kron, playwright of the world-premiere drama In the Wake.

To help Lisa celebrate her 49th, the night/OUT soiree will have four very special guests: the all-girl band from Girlfriend! Yes, Julie Wolf, Shelley Doty, Jean DuSablon, and ieela Grant are reuniting to rock the house. This is one night/OUT birthday bash you won't want to miss.

In the Wake starts at 8pm in the Roda Theatre, and the night/OUT party is immediately after in the lobby and the courtyard.

Visit our online box office for information or call 510 647-2949.

Above photo: The Girlfriend band (from left) Shelley Doty, Jean DuSablon, ieela Grant, and Julie Wolf. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.

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Wake actors celebrated in New York

posted by Chad Jones on Wed, May 19

Wake - Heidi & Deirdre
We love actors, especially those who do such phenomenal work here at Berkeley Rep, so it is with great pleasure that we celebrate the accomplishments of two actors currently performing in the world premiere of Lisa Kron's In the Wake (which just happens to open tonight in the Roda Theatre).

The Obie Awards, presented by The Village Voice to honor off-Broadway theatre, were handed out Monday, and Deirdre O'Connell, who plays Judy in In the Wake, and Heidi Schreck, who plays Ellen, were both recognized with an Obie for Best Ensemble in the Playwrights Horizons production Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker. 

Deirdre and Heidi were part of an ensemble that also included Reed Birney, Tracee Chimo, and Peter Friedman. Annie Baker received an Obie for Best New American Play, which she shared with herself for The Aliens, currently at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

Congratulations to Deirdre and Heidi!

Photo: Deirdre O'Connell (left) is Judy and Heidi Schreck is Ellen in the world-premiere production of In the Wake by Lisa Kron. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

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Lisa Kron talks to the Chron

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, May 17

Lisa Kron
Lisa Kron, the playwright behind the world-premiere drama In the Wake, sat down for a chat with the San Francisco Chronicle's Steven Winn.

In the interview, Lisa talks about her evolution as a theatre artist, from working with the Five Lesbian Brothers to her acclaimed solo work (2.5 Minute Ride, 101 Humiliating Stories) to her emergence as an acclaimed playwright (Well and now In the Wake).

With In the Wake, Lisa is, for the first time, not performing in her own work. She told Steven, "I'm not the right actress for any of the parts. Plus I'm too old." Lisa, we might add, turns 49 this week.

Now in previews and opening Wednesday in the Roda Theatre, In the Wake is set during the George W. Bush years and focuses on a tight group of New York friends.

Here's how Lisa described the genesis of the play:

"We've been in profound flux," said Kron, who started In the Wake when Bush was still in office. "These have been scary times - and gold for playwrights. Like everyone else, I was ranting my way through the Bush administration, and also getting fixated on certain ideas about the left. I guess the central question, which is also present in Well, is why we believe that things are always going to right themselves. Why do we believe we can only fall so far?"

Read the entire interview.

In the Wake previews May 18, opens May 19, and continues through June 27. For information visit our online box office or call 510 647-2949. Hours are noon to 7pm Tuesday through Sunday.

Above: Lisa Kron photo by Joan Marcus.

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Susan Medak recalls a few favorite shows

posted by Chad Jones on Fri, May 14

As we celebrate Managing Director Susan Medak's 20th anniversary at Berkeley Rep, we thought it might be fun to look at a few of her favorite shows from the last two decades.

Susie Medak
We sat down with Susan to talk about her years at Berkeley Rep, and when we asked about some of the shows that stood out in memory, here's what she had to say.

The Triumph of Love (1993) – "For the sheer craft; so beautifully crafted."

Endgame/Act Without Words (1993) – "Agonizing…and a perfect production."

Fires in the Mirror (1994) – "Anna Deavere Smith is one of our great social critics."

Peter and Wendy (1999) – "Such childlike wonder and exquisite performances."

Metamorphoses (1999) – "For its unbelievable beauty."

The Laramie Project (2001) – "I loved the way it spoke to our audiences and to our community."

Fêtes de la Nuit (2004) – "It made me laugh. I watched it over and over for the absolute pleasure of laughing so hard."

The Glass Menagerie (2006) – "Rita Moreno gave Amanda such humanity."

The Pillowman (2007) – "So smart, so sharp, and it created a world so completely. The combination of Martin McDonagh and Les Waters created such a grotesque and fantastic world view."

American Idiot (2009) – "So much fun, and I learned so much doing it."

You can read the full interview with Susan Medak here.

Photo of Susan Medak by Lisa Keating.

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John Leguizamo supports Bike to @#$%ing Work Day

posted by Terence Keane on Thu, May 13

We're gearing up to have John Leguizamo on our Thrust Stage with his new show, Klass Klown -- and, since it's Bike to Work Day (and this, after all, is Berkeley), we're thrilled to see that he cycles to work every day.

Check out this CNN report about John's "green limo."

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