A few weeks ago I found myself going through all my books deciding which were ready to be taken down to Half Price Books (right here at the corner of Addison and Shattuck) and which were treasures worth keeping. I came across a few books that I consider to be bibles of mine. Books that I can still remember lines or passages from and that inspired my core values as a theatre artist. I was curious as to what books inspired our staff in their early (or late) days as theatre folk. I asked my colleagues here at Berkeley Rep to contribute the titles of the books they read for a list I was making. Some were quick to respond enthusiastically while others claimed they found books about theatre pretentious. With continued prodding I asked if perhaps there was a different type of book that inspired them in their creative lives, or even one moment of creative insight that would leave said book a treasure for them. Again some contributed and some pushed back. “No!” they cried, “no books! No books about theatre!!” Okay, I said. Perhaps a play or a videotape or …something? Anything? Hence the following list from a number of staff members, fellows, and one former intern.
By Taylor Greenthal
Member, Berkeley Rep Teen Council
During my entire time at the Theatre Communications Group conference, my mind was exhausted from the endless analyzing and synthesizing of facts, opinions, and hypotheses that were constantly circulating around me. Through the incredible whirlwind that was the conference, I needed to find a focus, a path to help me navigate through all the discussions and really become engrossed in one major issue that mattered most to me. Of course, after my experiences with arts education at TCG last year and the newly formed Arts Advocacy Committee with Teen Council this year, I tried to seek out the discussions and people trying to make a difference in that area of the field. I was pleasantly surprised with this year’s theme of the conference, the hopeful, progressive mindset of “What if…?”. With this future-based theme, so many more plenary sessions, breakout discussions, and casual conversation revolved around us: the young people, Generation Y, “Digital Natives,” etc. I like to think that the teen voice at the conference last year reminded enough people that theatre isn’t just for the older generations, and that in fact, the theatre industry needs to learn more about and include younger generations in order to keep the industry relevent and popular. I hope that as a result of our presence last year, teens helped shift the conversation from the problems of today to the possibility of the future.
Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup debuts in September, but this new stage show isn't Rita's only current project. She's also starring in the new TV show Happily Divorced, playing Fran Drescher's mother. So, if you can't wait until September to get your Rita fix, check out the TV show page and this LA Times article.
By Regina V. Fields
Member, Berkeley Rep Teen Council
This past weekend, seven teens from Berkeley Rep’s Teen Council attended the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) conference in Los Angeles, joined by three members of Steppenwolf’s Young Adult Council. This was only the second year in TCG’s history that teens have participated in this national conference. It was an incredible experience; it opened my horizons in terms of what I can do in the field of theatre, I met some amazing theatre professionals, and I had the opportunity to contribute to the conversation about engaging teens in the theatre.
The major theme of the conference was “What If” (e.g., what if we imagined the theatre field of the next 50 years, and began making visible progress today?) and ways the theatre industry can and will evolve in years to come. But I noticed that teens, the people who will be around to make those changes within the theatre industry, were left out of the conversation. Though we were often talked about and referred to as the “next generation,” we were never actually included in these important dialogues.
Last Friday was the season's final 30-Below, AKA the coolest theatre afterparty for people in their 20s. And it was a blast! We had the good folks at Picante on hand making fresh tortillas in our courtyard (after four salmon tacos, I am a fan for life), a keg of delicious Triple Rock Bug Juice Ale, wine courtesy of Raymond Vineyards, and even a pre-show maragarita tasting with the always-fabulous Tres Agaves. And as for entertainment? Our old friend DJ Ome was back to spin tunes while we waited for our turn in the Magbooth. That's right, I told you the photo booth would be back!
For those of you who missed it, here's a few snaps we took at the event. And those of you who were there, see if you can spot yourself in the crowd! Leave us a comment if you find yourself or a friend.
Thanks to David Trease for the photos! Click on the pictures to open a larger size in a new window.
partygoers enjoying 30-Below
the collectable Triple Rock coasters
Picante's fresh tortillas were a huge hit
(Looking for the full set of photo booth pictures? Check out the album here.)
Hot off the press!
Anna Deavere Smith -- already one of the most popular performers in Berkeley Rep history -- is coming back! Let Me Down Easy will close on July 10, and re-open on August 10.
Get in on Let Me Down Easy for the first time -- or again -- and this time see it on our intimate Thrust Stage! This final encore presentation is only 4 weeks. Let Me Down Easy must close for the final time on September 4.
Check out the new video trailer (1 minute), watch Anna introduce the show (3 minutes), or discover the show, the buzz, and more. Then reserve your seats!
Join us in the courtyard one hour before most performances of the encore presentation for a free tequila tasting with Berkeley’s own award-winning Tres Agaves Tequila!
Let Me Down Easy is a hit with audiences with many sold-out performances. Still, Anna Deavere Smith isn’t slowing down, giving several interviews a week. And we want to share the recent ones with you! Here’s a particularly wonderful TV interview conducted by Dave Iverson for KQED’s This Week in Northern California. She also did interviews for more public radio shows, including NPR’s Forum and NPR’s California Report. And here’s more for CBS’ Bay Sunday and KPFA’s Cover to Cover.
Intrigued? Reserve your seats for Let Me Down Easy!
A couple of weeks before each Berkeley Rep show opens, the members of the marketing team unleash their inner mixologists to concoct that show's specialty drink. We consider the play's themes -- or "flavor," if you will -- as well as any references to drinks. Three Sisters nearly depleted our vodka reserves, and Fanta made an appearance at our concessions counter courtesy of Ruined.
So, how to approach Let Me Down Easy, with its themes of spirituality and health care? Smoothies came to mind and were quickly dismissed. But visions of cucumber, lemon, and lime slices danced in our heads, and we came up with the Lemon-Mint Spa Spritzer:
Revitalize your body and spirit with this refreshing virgin blend of lemon, mint, and sparkling water. $5. Add gin -- detox can wait! $8.
Now on sale at our concessions counter throughout the run of Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy.
The Hollywood Reporter and Playbill.com reported that the film version of American Idiot will be released in 2013, with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong in the role of St. Jimmy -- the same role he played in several Broadway performances that drew huge box office receipts. Additional casting for the film has not been announced. Tom Hanks' company Playtone holds the film rights, and Michael Mayer -- the director of the Berkeley Rep and Broadway runs -- will direct the film. Of course, American Idiot premiered here at Berkeley Rep in 2008.
The national tour of American Idiot begins this fall and will come to San Francisco in June 2012.
Quite a few past Berkeley Rep artists made appearances at last night’s Tony Awards. Colman Domingo, who performed at many Bay Area theatres and played Franklin in Passing Strange, was nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Scottsboro Boys. Joshua Henry, who was in the ensemble of American Idiot, also received a nomination for Scottsboro Boys as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Mark Wendland, who was the scenic designer for Master Class starring Rita Moreno, was nominated for his scenic design of The Merchant of Venice. But it was Brian Ronan, sound designer for American Idiot, who walked away with a Tony Award last night for Best Sound Design of a Musical for The Book of Mormon. He was also nominated for Anything Goes. Congratulations all!