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2010/11 sneak peek: The Composer Is Dead and Ruined

posted by Chad Jones on Thu, Aug 19, 2010
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

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Delving into the riches of the 2010/11 Berkeley Rep season, we've already talked about the season opener, Compulsion, starring Mandy Patinkin, and the epic play cycle The Great Game: Afghanistan and Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and The Last Cargo Cult.

Now it's time to explore Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead and Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined.

Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead

Check out the pedigree on this world premiere. It is written by Lemony Snicket (the bestselling author also known as San Francisco writer Daniel Handler, pictured at right in a photo by Meredith Heuer) with music by Nathaniel Stookey. Based on the children's book, it was originally conceived for the stage by Lemony Snicket and Phantom Limb Company, the amazing puppet troupe under the artistic leadership of Jessica Grindstaff and Erik Sanko. The show was developed with Tony Taccone, who also directs, and Geoff Hoyle, who also stars.

That's a lot of genius piled into a show that will have audiences of all ages giddy with delight.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Snicket/Handler spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his work and mentioned that Lemony Snicket is writing a new four-book series. But he didn't want to say too much about it.

"It's in its first trimester, so you don't want to poke at it too much. It's early, so I don't want to go around bragging about it. That's actually a Jewish tradition, not to set up the baby's room while you're pregnant or even say the baby's name out loud. It's bad luck."

Read the article here.

Daniel also talked about his San Francisco neighborhood in this charming New York Times article.

Nathaniel Stookey, the composer of Composer (who happens to be very much alive, thank you very much), has had a busy summer, including a stop in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he conducted The Composer Is Dead with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. Read about the event here.

And finally, meet Jessica and Erik of Phantom Limb. This video is from late last year when they were working on a show called The Devil You Know with Ping Chong & Co.


Lynn Nottage
Sometimes a play wins the Pulitzer Prize and you never hear much about it, let alone see it. Lynn Nottage's Ruined is quite the opposite. This is a play that has had people talking since it opened in 2008, let alone since its onslaught of awards.

Earlier this year, Ruined opened in London, where Lynn (seen at right in a photo by Susan Johann)  talked to the London Metro. Read the interview.

The London Mail also wrote about Ruined, which was directed in the UK by Indhu Rubasingham, who also happens to be co-directing The Great Game: Afghanistan at Berkeley Rep in October. Read the story (it comes after the piece on Hair).

Another fascinating piece to come out of London appeared in the Guardian. Lynn talks about one of her favorite performances of all time — Judi Dench starring in Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, a play that helped inspire Lynn to write Ruined. Read the article.

Liesl Tommy, who will be directing Ruined at Berkeley Rep, talks about directing the show in this video, which she shot earlier this year as she worked on the play for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


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