Berkeley Rep Blog

Category archive: Our shows

C-pop 2: Electric boogaloo

posted by Karen McKevitt on Tue, Sep 18, 2012
in Our shows

By Jacob Marx Rice

We got the fever, and the only prescription is more C-pop! A few weeks ago we posted about the origin of the music in David Henry Hwang's Chinglish (which has been extended until October 21) with clips from a couple of the songs. But people kept asking for more, so we’re giving you the entire play list. Check it out below (with links to videos so you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home).

All the songs are by the same artist, Leehom Wang, a Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter known for combining traditional Chinese music, pop, hip hop, and tons of other musical styles. He has won the Golden Melody Award, the Taiwanese version of the Grammies, four times and performed at the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing.

Here's the list:

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First we'll take Manhattan...

posted by Karen McKevitt on Sat, Sep 15, 2012
in News , Our shows

By Pauline Luppert

One could say plays developed at Berkeley Rep really get around. Eight have enjoyed Broadway runs, including American Idiot, Bridge & Tunnel, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Passing Strange, and Wishful Drinking — and 20 played off Broadway, including Brundibar, Compulsion, Eurydice, In the Wake, and Taking Over. In the last 10 years alone, Berkeley Rep has helped send 17 shows to New York and 2 to London while 2 turned into films and others toured the nation. Now, for the first time, Berkeley Rep will be sending a production to Asia.

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Birthdays, brevity, and booty-poppin'

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Sep 6, 2012
in Our shows

By Jacob Marx Rice

In case you haven’t been keeping up with all the awesome Chinglish videos, we compiled them into one place.

 Last month was playwright David Henry Hwang’s birthday, and at Berkeley Rep we’re much too cool for birthday cake. (Not true. Cake is always encouraged.) Instead, the cast of Chinglish made David a special birthday video, complete with four different languages and some great chinglish (a fifth language?).


Brevity is the soul of wit, and our 15-second Chinglish TV spot is witty as hell. Bonus points to anybody who can figure out what awesome TV show inspired the style. (Hint: the new season is coming to Netflix next year.)


And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. (Or skipped ahead to. You know who you are.) No introduction could do justice to what you are about to see, so we won’t bother. Enjoy the booty poppin.’


Yea. That actually happened.



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Strippers on a train: The reality of Chinglish costume changes

posted by Amy Bobeda on Thu, Aug 30, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

Every Bay Area dweller has had an unsavory BART experience. So imagine, if you will, riding BART in complete darkness as you attempt to change your entire ensemble in under 50 seconds. That, my dear Berkeley Rep lovin' readers, is exactly what life is like for the cast of Chinglish.

For those who don't know, the show is set on two rotating turntables, and the platforms spin during the transitions in and out of each scene. For actors to exit and enter the stage, they hop from platform to platform to the beat of Chinese techno pop. 

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Chinglish pop popmuzik

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Aug 29, 2012
in From the booth , Our shows

By Jacob Marx Rice 

Berkeley Rep’s production of David Henry Hwang's Chinglish opens tonight! And while the play may be about cross-cultural discord, sound designer Darron L West filled the transitions with a more harmonious cultural exchange. Darron used clips of Chinese pop music, or C-pop, a mashup of western and eastern music that's been around since the 1920s.

Li Jinui
 Li Jinui, the father of C-pop. This guy was the Elvis of China.

C-pop went through tough times under Mao because it was seen as Western, bourgeois, and even pornographic. But as China has opened up, C-pop has exploded. Top songs get tens of millions of hits on YouTube, including songs with awesome Chinglish titles like “Heart had been injured who can love,” “Just lonely lonely,” and “You still owe me a hug.”

Infusing the show with C-pop gives the audience a sense another facet of modern China. The music is a definite change from the American pop we’re used to (it’s in Chinese for one thing), but audiences at Chinglish haven’t seemed to mind. Several have been spotted dancing along during the transitions. After listening to these clips from the show, we think you'll see why.

Trans to 1.7

Trans to 1.3

Also, check out this amazing music video for one of the songs. If a picture is worth a thousand words, we’re pretty sure this video is priceless.


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David Henry Hwang wins the Steinberg

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Aug 22, 2012
in News , Our shows

Mere days before the West Coast premiere of his play, Chinglish, opens here at Berkeley Rep, David Berkeley_Rep_Hwang3_lr Henry Hwang learned he just won the most generous prize in theatre.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust put $200,000 in David's purse, citing his 32 years of writing provocative satires and dramas featuring Asian and Asian-American characters, including the Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly.

The New York Times reports that "Mr. Hwang, 55, said in a telephone interview that the money had allowed him to decline film and television work recently and focus his time on writing plays." 

That's good news for the theatre world. Congratulations, David! 

Read the full article by the New York Times. And, while you're at it, pick up tickets to Chinglish!

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An Iliad garners great review

posted by Karen McKevitt on Tue, Aug 21, 2012
in News , Our shows

The 2012-13 has officially started, and we've hit the ground running. Sure, David Henry Hwang's Chinglish opens Friday, but close on its heels is Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson's An Iliad, an adaptation of Homer's classic tale.

We're co-producing the play with La Jolla Playhouse, where it just opened last week and garnered a terrific review in the San Diego Union Tribune. Here's an excerpt:

"As the Poet, Henry Woronicz summons the kind of performance you might wait a lifetime (or three) to see. For some 100 intermissionless minutes, he brings to vivid life the vast scale, the massive, terrifying clashes, of the war between the besieged city of Troy and the attacking Greek forces. At times he works the audience like a hard-bitten showman, cracking offhand jokes and telling anecdotes of his life on the road (the Gauls, apparently, were a tough crowd)… Woronicz is affecting and astounding." 

Henry Woronicz in An Iliad. Photo courtesy of

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Sneak peek: The Chinglish set

posted by Karen McKevitt on Tue, Aug 21, 2012
in Our shows , Prop shop , Scene shop

David Henry Hwang's Chinglish, a comedy of cross-cultural errors, begins Friday. Here's a sneak peek of the set, which was trucked in from New York a few months ago and has been awaiting new life in our scene shop.  


Production manager Tom Pearl takes a closer look. 




 And here's a view of it in the Roda Theatre last week.


 A couple of bins of props in the Roda lobby, awaiting load-in.


All photos by Mary Kay Hickox.

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Chinglish begins rehearsals

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Aug 9, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

Life is imitating art when it comes to David Henry Hwang's Chinglish (which begins performances at Berkeley Rep in about two weeks!). In the play, an American businessman goes to China to score a business deal for his firm, only to collide with a Communist minister and a sexy bureaucrat.

Hmm, sounds a little bit like the current scandel involving former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, who's now being tried for allegedly murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Though the American businessman in David Henry Hwang's play doesn't meet exactly the same fate, the playwright had been told early on that some of the scenarios in his play wouldn't actually happen in China. But it seems they do happen, in this case with tragic results.

As the murder case was unfolding, Chinglish began rehearsals at our Harriosn Street campus in West Berkeley. Here's a glimpse of them:



 Playwright David Henry Hwang with director Leigh Silverman.


 From left: actors Brian Nishii and Alex Moggridge with David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman.

In the foreground: Brian Nishii and Alex Moggridge.

All photos by Cheshire Isaacs.

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Emotional Creature inspires action

posted by Karen McKevitt on Mon, Jul 9, 2012
in Our shows

Yesterday's matinee performance of Emotional Creature inspired many audience members to take action in their community. At the post-show talkback, one woman offered to teach a free writing class for high-school students, while another made a commitment to volunteer at a local organization, and a teen wanted to start an organization at her high school.

What about you? Has Emotional Creature inpsired you to take action? Or what community activities are you already involved with?

Learn about how you can get involved and become an activist on our website and at

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