Berkeley Rep Blog

July 2011

East Bay Express readers can't be wrong

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Jul 22

DEpre2_lr_small Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy was voted Best Theatrical Production by East Bay Express readers in the Best of the East Bay issue. Aww, thanks everyone! You have terrific taste in theatre, if we do say so ourselves.

Did you miss Let Me Down Easy? Don't worry, you can still find out what East Bay Express readers already know -- that this show rocks! It's coming back to Berkeley Rep starting August 10 for a really short encore presentation. It must close September 4. What's more, this time the show is on our intimate Thrust Stage, so you can get an even closer view of Anna's artistic genius. 

See Let Me Down Easy for the first time, or again. (So many people came more than once to the original run.) Buy your tickets here!

Photo of Anna Deavere Smith by Joan Marcus. 

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Let Me Down Easy's moment at Grace

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Jul 13

Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy concluded its amazing regular run last weekend (the encore performances start up August 11 on our intimate Thrust Stage), and we had some community leaders in the audience: the Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw (Dean of Grace Cathedral), as well as the former Dean Alan Jones.

Dr. Shaw found the show so inspiring that she even preached about it the next morning, comparing Anna Deavere Smith's process to that of a parable: neither tells you exactly what to think or what the "right" answer is. 

Says Dr. Shaw: "Anna Deavere Smith does not tell us what to think about the healthcare system; she gives us stories to startle us into thinking in new ways about it -- and thus about life and health and death. Through our experience of the play, she prompts us to think and feel differently, as all good art does, about something we thought we already knew."

She goes on to say, "I related not simply to one of Anna Deavere Smith’s twenty characters in the play last night; I found myself finding parts of each of them understand-able, and parts of each of them strange, in ways that prompted me to think anew about health, living, dying. It was in that way that the play changed me, and will go on changing me." 

We're really thrilled that discussions of the issues raised in Let Me Down Easy are taking place outside the Theatre--out in our communities. If you've had similar discussions in your community, let us know!


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City Council passes the Downtown Berkeley Business Improvement District

posted by Karen McKevitt on Tue, Jul 5

Last week, the Berkeley City Council authorized the formation of the Downtown Berkeley Property-Based Business Improvement District, which will begin operation in January 2012 with a $1.2 million annual budget and will be managed by the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA). One of the many projects planned include the renovation of BART Plaza.

Our managing director, Susan Medak, is the board chair of the DBA. She says, "Downtown Berkeley has such great fundamentals, with a world class university, stellar arts district, and great transit, dining, recreation, and shopping.  The PBID will create a consistent quality of life experience and economic development initiatives that will attract new investment and visitors to Downtown Berkeley."

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What if teens invaded TCG 2011? Part 3

posted by School of Theatre on Fri, Jul 1

By Marcelo Gutierrez
Member, Berkeley Rep Teen Council

Last weekend I attended the 2011 TCG national conference, this time held in downtown L.A. Let me tell you something, be excited for the future of art and technology! The relationship between art and technology was a major theme throughout the three-day long conference, and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of possibilities.

On Thursday, I attended the breakout session called "Earning your Social Media MFA: 90 Months in 90 Minutespresented by Devon Smith. The presentation was absolutely amazing, and I was introduced to a world of social media that can honorably present art and bring it into the future. She spoke about Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Kickstarter, YouTube, Groupon, and many other social media sites that I had never heard of. She went into detail about each one of these sites and shared the many wonders and opportunities that come with these tools, for example, the many resources Facebook has created for nonprofits at and all the apps available for smartphones, like Google Goggles, which allows you to use your phone camera to instantly access a Wikipedia page on what you're seeing, and an app that suggests who you should meet and talk to at social gatherings based on work and personal interests. 

Many people complain that technology is taking away creativity and credibility from art. Devon emphasized that social media is a tool ready for our use, a tool that can enhance, spread, and promote your theatre, art, music, books, fashion designs all over the world like never before. Artists can use these tools to bring their work to an entirely new level. In the new global landscape of the internet and social media, artists no longer need a publicist, they are their own publicist. Programs like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs allow you to connect to a global audience instantly in a more direct and personal manner. The painter, George Condo, who recently designed new album art for Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, had an exhibition at the MoMa in New York earlier this year. To promote it, massive posters were put up all over New York with one of his images and the name of his exhibit. But what was really innovative about these posters was that it included a QR code. When people with smartphones took a picture of the code, it took them to a live Twitter feed relating to his exhibition. 

Everything today is on a global scale! The technology today is absolutely beautiful and groundbreaking. Use it! It's free!  No matter where you live, what skin color you have, how rich/poor you are, you can have and take part in any of these global networking sites and share your voice as a global citizen.

Marcelo after the teens' breakout session Marcelo talking to a theatre professional after the teens' breakout session.

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