Meet Emotional Creature ensemble member Olivia Oguma:
Olivia loves to make bracelets. And we love Olivia's beautiful and versatile bracelets so much that we're selling them in our Roger & Silvija Hoag Theatre Store for a mere $25.
Aren't they awesome? It's a good thing Olivia brought her craft supplies with her to Berkeley, because we already sold out of her first batch of braceletes. Don't worry, we have more in stock now. So come by the store before or after the show, try them on, and support our guest actor and artisan!
Get ready for some news that's going to really rock the foundation. This past September, we announced plans for the launch of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. Today, we're happy to announce the full list of participants (nearly 40 writers, directors, and composers) and their respective projects (a full baker's dozen of them) for the Summer Residency Lab, set to take off this July.
Some of the names are familiar ones to Berkeley Rep fans -- Lynn Nottage, Itamar Moses, Leigh Silverman, and Greg Pierotti will all return to the Bay Area to take part in various projects, ranging from food politics to apology lines. What's particularly exciting is the addition of several names that are new to our audience members -- Dan LeFranc, whose Troublemaker will have its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in 2013, will workshop his play here this summer with director Dexter Bullard; considering The Ground Floor doesn't require a formal presentation of the work, playwrights like Amelia Roper can take full advantage of the Summer Residency Lab to continue to develop their work. It's a fascinating list and we're already gearing up to welcome them in just a few short months.
To read what the press is saying about The Ground Floor, check out articles in today's New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and on Playbill.com. If you're a Berkeley resident, it's almost time to break out your binoculars -- you may just spot one of these talented artists around town!
As someone who’s dreamed about going to the Oscars since I was 4 years old, I was pretty star-struck when I heard a rumor that John Logan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Tony award-winning playwright of Red (which just extended, by the way!), would be doing a talkback at Berkeley Rep. I mean, this is the guy that Scorsese calls when he needs a good script. Martin Scorsese. And Berkeley felt a little bit like Hollywood last Saturday night when Logan showed up for a post-show discussion with dramaturg Julie McCormick.
February 16 was our final night/OUT of the year, and what better show to close us out than A Doctor in Spite of Himself. That show is bananas! And so was the party, thanks to our generous sponsors: Picante, Triple Rock Brewery, Raymond Vineyards, Tres Agaves Tequila, and of course our friends at the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
But most of all, thanks to the fabulous people who came out to the event on Thursday, including the cast and crew of Doctor. Only at Berkeley Rep can you chat with Steven Epp over a keg while the DJ plays "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" at full volume. I love my job.
Party people! From L-R: Brandon Weinbrenner (Bret C. Harte Directing Fellow), Wendi Gross (former development fellow) and her friend Brendan, Jacob Ming-Trent (Valère/Cherub), and Mary Kay Hickox (graphics fellow)
Or your laptop. Or even the newest search features on Google that save us all the hassle of pulling down the dusty Encyclopedia Brittanica from the shelf.* (Alright, so maybe not while #SOPA and #PIPA were in effect, but even still...)
Last week, Berkeley Rep played host to a lunchtime gathering of 30 of our city's brightest high-tech innovators. The monthly Infusion lunch series, hosted by Sylvia Paull, welcomed Seymour Rubinstein, a veteran computer programmer and tech guru, to talk about his newest endeavor. Most of the attendees also participate in the Berkeley Startup Cluster, a relatively new initiative that encourages local high-tech companies to create a home for themselves in Berkeley. Here's a photo from the event, captured by our very own Robert Sweibel:
Many of our lunchtime guests are also Berkeley Rep regulars. Perhaps you can start an interesting conversation with your fellow audience members the next time you're at the Theatre. (Tip: these folks go crazy when you ask them about their favorite programming language.**)
* Nothing against encyclopedias.
** That's where they lost me.
It's not every day you get to write a script for Rita Moreno.
Perhaps you've heard of her? Before her star-making turn in "Bring your Entourage to Berkeley Rep," Ms. Moreno appeared in a handful of smaller films like West Side Story, The King and I, and The Ritz. OK, I kid. Obviously, Rita was a huge star well before we talked her into appearing in our video, but now I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's back up.
Here at Berkeley Rep, we have this amazing program that no one's ever heard of. It's called Entourage. Here's how it works: if we've got a show that you want to share with 10 or more people, we'll send you a discount code for 20% off. You don't all have to come on the same day, and we'll even waive everyone's service fees. Even better, if you can get 15 or more people to come, we'll give you a free ticket to a future show. Basically, you help us spread the word, and we'll make sure you and your friends save big. Win-win.
Or, if you prefer your information in cheesy, black-and-white video format:
Sounds awesome, right? We here in the marketing department were bummed that no one seemed to know about the program, so we decided to make a video to get the word out. We gave ourselves a comfortable schedule to make a storyboard, write a script, and look for filming locations...and then someone suggested asking Rita Moreno (who was here performing Life Without Makeup) if she'd like to make a cameo. Miraculously, she said yes. But since her show was ending in two days, our two-week timeline was out the window. If it was going to happen, we had to do this thing today.
And that's how I ended up writing a script to pitch to an Oscar winner in 15 minutes. Once that was done, we went to the theatre, grabbed as many "volunteers" as we could find, and knocked on Rita's dressing room door.
Boy, was that a terrifying moment. Here I am, some nobody, asking the great Rita Moreno to perform in some ludicrous scene that I wrote. I'm not a screenwriter! I'm not even a regular writer! And then, as if that wasn't frightening enough, I had to act in the scene with her. Look, I was a drama major in college, and I used to dream about this kind of opportunity. But you never expect it to happen with so little warning. I mean, shouldn't I have gotten a few weeks to prepare myself for this? Shouldn't I at least have brushed my hair?
Naturally, it took about three seconds for me to ruin the first take. Mortified, I tried again...and this time Rita tripped over her lines, made a joke about it, and just like that the tension broke. (Stars: they're just like us!) After that, it was just fun. She was an incredibly good sport, as were all the other Berkeley Rep staffers we coerced into performing. The whole thing was over in an hour.
At the end of our adventure in filmmaking, we were left with this little gem. Check it out, and if it sounds like something you might want to do, why don't you get in touch? (I promise I'm not quite as, uh, effusive in person.)
Hey, there's a famous cartoonist lurking in the depths of Berkeley Rep's box office! And another one of his works is featured in this week's issue of the New Yorker. (Yeah, the magazine's published like eight of his cartoons.) Check it!
Plus, he has two more in the magazine's Cartoons of the Year 2011. Congratulations, Tom!
We've been vindicated! What we who work in the theatre have always known to be true is finally being supported with actual evidence. A new study from the UK charts, via smart phone responses, when people are at their happiest. No surprise to Berkeley Rep fans: theatre comes in third place (only after sex and exercising).
When are you at your happiest?
After a successful and vibrant eight years at Berkeley Rep as associate artistic director, it's time to bid farewell to a local favorite. Today, Actors Theatre of Lousiville named Les Waters as their new artistic director.
In Les' words, “For a director such as myself, whose career has focused on fostering new work, it has been a delight to be part of the team at Berkeley Rep. It is an extraordinary theatre staffed by extraordinary people dedicated to the highest quality of craftsmanship...It is difficult to leave Berkeley -- yet it is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville...I am committed to making theatre there that is passionate and intelligent, funny and heartfelt, and look forward to leading Actors Theatre to new artistic endeavors.”
Check out the Actors Theatre press conference video. Les speaks about 8 minutes in.
All of us at Berkeley Rep wish Les all the best as he begins his new Kentucky adventure (where he'll certainly make a mark, just as he has on Addison Street)! We'll miss his charm, wit, and sweaters, but we're not ready to bid him farewell just yet. Les will be back in Berkeley to direct Red, which plays the Thrust Stage from March 16 - April 29, 2012. And we'll certainly have a few more blog posts before he departs.
What was your favorite Les Waters production at Berkeley Rep? Please share your thoughts with us below.
Photo of Les Waters by Rebecca Martinez
Rita's already won the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony awards. This weekend, she's gearing up to put the last Midas touch on her extended run of Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup. What more could our favorite leading lady want right now? A golden anniversary may just be the answer.
This Tuesday, November 15 is the 50th anniversary of the film version of West Side Story in which Rita earned her Academy Award. George Chakiris (Bernardo to Rita's Anita) showed up at the show on November 6; dancer Ray Garcia snapped this photo backstage after Rita brought her former co-star onto the Roda stage for a bow.
Movie theatres around the country have been showing the film for fans all month. Symphony orchestras have added the score to their repertoire this season to play live alongside the film. There was even this flash mob that happened in Times Square today to commemorate the movie's big birthday:
After the show closes this Sunday (and if you haven't seen this stellar show yet, get your tickets before they're gone), Rita is heading down to Los Angeles to celebrate at a reunion of some of the film's stars.
Who knows what Rita will touch next that will turn itself to gold?