Tag Archives: Berkeley Rep

Bites: What’s new in East Bay food, XXXIV

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Openings…

ARTICHOKE BASILLE’S PIZZA New York style pizza slices are coming to Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue neighborhood with the opening — before Halloween it is hoped — of Artichoke Basille’s Pizza at 2590 Durant Avenue, on the corner of Bowditch. Jim Trevor, who is helping open the new pizzeria, says it’s the first West Coast location for the group which has several New York branches — including three in Manhattan (one of which is pictured top), one at La Guardia airport, and another within a casino in Queens. Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, pizzaiolos, cousins and best friends, opened the first Artichoke Basille’s on 14th Street in New York City in 2008. They learned their trade at the family restaurant, Basille’s, in Staten Island. Such has been the taste for their pizzas that fans, according to the company, now include Keith Richards and Momofuku’s David Chang. Why Telegraph? “Not many places in the Bay Area have foot traffic like Telegraph Avenue,” said Trevor. And he adds: “College students can eat pizza morning, noon and night!”  … Continue reading »

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‘Vanya and Sonia’: Chekhov revisited with laughter, more

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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike — a 2013 Tony award winner for Best Play making its first regional appearance at Berkeley Rep – combines merriment and literacy with a tinge of sadness. It’s a complex balance that three-time Obie Award-winning playwright, Christopher Durang, (Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, The Marriage of Bette & Boo) pulls off with aplomb, as director Richard E.T. White (Berkeley Reps’ Otherwise Engaged, Dancing at Lughnasa), and a talented cast bring Durang’s witty and wise words to life.

Durang weaves theatrical themes, most notably from Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya, to create this modern-day version of a dysfunctional family facing the sale of their beloved home and the evaporation of their once bright futures.

As the play begins, Vanya (well acted by Anthony Fusco) and Sonia (excellent Sharon Lockwood) are dressed in their pajamas, likely their attire for the last 15 years. The live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in the large country house they have spent their entire lives. Even as adults, they remained at home and cared for their parents until they died. Vanya and Sonia wallow in their boredom, depression, and hopelessness. … Continue reading »

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Arts

Mesmerizing acting makes ‘No Man’s Land’ a triumph

Ian McKellen (l) and Patrick Stewart in No Man's Land at Berkeley Rep. Photo: Kevin Berne
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The original 1975 production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land starred John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in the two central roles. That sets a pretty high bar for revivals. But it’s hard to believe those two greats would surpass Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Sean Mathias’ production that opened at Berkeley Rep on Sunday night and runs until the end of the month.

If you want to see acting at its very peak, do whatever you need to do to get tickets. McKellen, in particular, as the down-at-heel, shambolic Spooner, is mesmerizing. He’s a master of the classic Pinter dialogue, with its pauses, hesitations, misdirections and misunderstandings. But it’s McKellen’s physical presence that is most memorable: just watch him walk across the stage, somehow simultaneously lithe, drunk and worn out. Stewart, in the less showy role of literary grandee Hirst, is also strong, although the role is more a foil to Spooner.  … Continue reading »

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‘George Gershwin Alone’: A love song to the love song man

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George Gershwin Alone is a bright and breezy one-man show written and performed by Hershey Felder using the glorious music and lyrics of George Gershwin (1898–1937), and his brother, Ira (1896–1983). Felder, playing George Gershwin, fascinates the audience as he describes Gershwin’s short life and plays some of his greatest pieces.

Felder is no slouch himself. A talented concert pianist, composer and actor, he spent five years researching and reading Gershwin’s original manuscripts and correspondence. He interviewed biographers and family members, and had unfettered access to the Gershwin archives.

George Gershwin wrote over 1,000 popular songs for Broadway and the movies, many of which you have probably heard. I checked my iTunes library and found 30 of them performed by artists from Cannonball Adderley to Janis Joplin, including “The Man I Love,” “I Got Rhythm,” “Oh, Lady Be Good,” “’S Wonderful,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.”

Gershwin also wrote the more sophisticated “Rhapsody in Blue” (1924), the symphonic tone poem “An American in Paris” (1928), and what Gershwin called a folk opera, “Porgy and Bess” (1935). … Continue reading »

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Dear Elizabeth: Intimate letters come to life at Rep

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Playwright Sarah Ruhl and director Les Waters, much-admired collaborators who created Eurydice, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) and Three Sisters, return to Berkeley Rep with Dear Elizabeth,  a play based on the intimate 30-year correspondence between Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), played by Mary Beth Fisher, and Robert Lowell (1917-1977), acted by Tom Nelis.

Sarah Ruhl has chosen a concise selection of letters from the poets’ 900-plus pages of correspondence, which was published in 2008 as, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Ruhl and Waters staged a two-character recitation of the selected correspondence. Because of constraints imposed by the poets’ estates, only the letters themselves could be used in the play, aside from the recitation of few wonderful poems and the placement of subtitles above the stage identifying the year and place in which the letters were written. … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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FINAL COUNTDOWN Classical music concerts often have some programmatic idea: works that influenced each other, or pieces that provide an interesting tonal contrast. But The Opus Project has a particularly audacious notion: its Saturday night concert features 21 Opus 5 pieces by composers ranging from Stravinsky to Cage to Britten (it’s the centennial of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring — an Opus 5!). The multi-media Opus 5 follows on, unsurprisingly, from Opera 1 through 4 (pedantic, moi?). The earliest work on Saturday will be a movement from Schoenberg’s Peleas und Melisande; the most recent Rabbits Frolicking Through the Meadow by 20-year old Anthony Ragus, composed this year. Opus 5 is at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue. Tickets are from $10.  … Continue reading »

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Places

Community farm buys 2+ acres in West Berkeley

Adam Berman, the founder of Urban Adamah, stands on the boundary of the property the group has purchased on Sixth Street. Cordonices Creek is behind him. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Urban Adamah, the community farm that has been operating out of rented quarters on Parker Street for two and a half years, is in contract to purchase a 2.2-acre lot next to a restored section of Codornices Creek in West Berkeley.

The organization, which integrates Jewish traditions, environmental education, mindfulness and social action, purchased the land at Sixth and Harrison streets from the U.S. Post Office for $2.1 million and has until Aug. 4 to come up with the funds, according to Adam Berman, the founder of Urban Adamah.  The land, at 1151 Sixth, is undeveloped and sits next door to the post office’s main processing facility.  … Continue reading »

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‘Pericles’ at Berkeley Rep: An extravagant theatricality

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It takes courage to put on a production of Pericles, Prince of TyreIt’s not one of Shakespeare’s better plays, if in fact Shakespeare wrote the play at all. Yet, Obie Award – winning director Mark Wing-Davey turns the play into what he calls an “extravagant theatricality” and what I call a two-hour street party.

Using a shortened version of the play, first-rate acting, creative staging, inventive effects, original joyful music and sound effects, ingenious costumes and sight gags, Pericles becomes a 21st century tumult — amusing and entertaining at times, but with all that talent and imagination, why didn’t they choose a better play?

Pericles, Prince of Tyre describes Pericles’s episodic journeys over many years, His first stop is Antioch, where hopes to marry a princess, but flees to avoid her incestuous relationship with her father. He then sails to Tarsus, where he saves the city from famine. The governor, Dionyza, is deeply indebted to him. … Continue reading »

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Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart coming to Berkeley Rep

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Two of the word’s most highly regarded actors are landing in Berkeley this summer.

The distinguished stage actor Sir Ian McKellen, perhaps best known for his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit movies, and Sir Patrick Stewart — British like McKellan — who plays Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise, will star in Harold Pinter’s play No Man’s Land at the Berkeley Rep.

The play, to be directed by Sean Mathias, is set in north London and tells the story of two writers. Blending reality and fantasy, it has been hailed as one of Pinter’s “indisputable modern classics.” No Man’s Land is scheduled to run for a limited four-week run at the Roda Theatre (Aug. 3-31), before heading to Broadway. … Continue reading »

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Lawrence Wright reinvents the indomitable Oriana Fallaci

Self portrait of Oriana Fallaci. Photo courtesy of Edoardo Perazzi / Fallaci private collections
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The worldwide premiere of Fallaci, although distinctive and thought provoking, is almost as problematic as was Oriana Fallaci herself. Yet, it’s about time that her life was dramatized. A charismatic, powerful and controversial journalist and writer, Fallaci (1929-2006) took on, and bested, the most influential political interviewees of her day: the Ayatollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, Indira Gandhi, Henry Kissinger and Golda Meir.

Rather than being the objective observer, she was a starring player in her interviews. Much to the consternation of others, Fallaci was known for telling different versions of her background. Nevertheless, her father, an Italian resistance fighter during World War II, seems to have skilled Oriana with bravery and courage.

Lawrence Wright’s two-person play begins in 2000 with a young Iranian-American woman, Maryam, (ably performed by Narjan Neshat) attempting to interview an aging Oriana Fallaci (skillfully acted by Concetta Tomei) for Fallaci’s New York Times obituary (to be used when needed). Oriana has receded from public view because of cancer.

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Pulitzer Prize winner confronts his hero through ‘Fallaci’

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By Adam Brinklow

Lawrence Wright is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and the much buzzed-about Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and The Prison of Belief.

His new play Fallaci (world premiere March 8 at Berkeley Rep) is a fictionalized account of the last days of legendary Italian journalist-provacateur Oriana Fallaci as she confronts her own mortality as well as the skepticism of a young journalist who questions her methods and legacy. San Francisco Magazine talked to Wright about how he faced up to his hero.

What does someone like Fallaci, an audacious reporter whose heyday was the ‘70s and ‘80s, have in common with L. Ron Hubbard, the subject of your latest book, or Osama bin Laden, whom you wrote about in ‘The Looming Tower’?
They all set out to change the world, and in some ways they did. In the case of Fallaci I wanted to find out the real motivations under her brash, confident exterior. [As a young journalist] I was overwhelmed with admiration for her. She was a small, sexy woman and she could stand down world leaders and make them cower. She made journalism sexy. … Continue reading »

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Arts

‘Troublemaker’ at Berkeley Rep offers flair, humor, pathos

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Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright, written by the young, talented Dan LeFranc (Sixty Miles to Silver Lake), is a fresh, funny, vibrant, original and ultimately sympathetic glimpse into the angst-filled world of tweeners. It’s a time when young boys feel constrained by their self-described “origin story,” real or imagined, and long to escape their limits into a world of action.

The protagonist Bradley Boatwright (excellent Gabriel King) is a likeable kid who spirals out of control. Brad’s “origin story” is that his father died while saving Brad and his mother (first-rate Jennifer Regan) from a burning car. This puts him one-step up from friends whose origins are mostly being children of divorce. Brad envisions himself a superhero who needs to watch over his mother and his nerdy friend and sidekick, Mikey (Obie award winner, terrific Chad Goodridge). … Continue reading »

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’3 Michaels’ talk writing, inspiration and Berkeley quirks

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In an evening designed to focus on the “Berkeleyishness” of Berkeley, and raise money for a great cause, three of the city’s most renowned Michaels kept hundreds of local residents laughing for the better part of 90 minutes with their wit, charm and candor.

Writers Michael Lewis, Michael Pollan and Michael Chabon — all of whom live in Berkeley — answered questions from West Coast Live host and Berkeley native Sedge Thomson, who moderated “The Three Michaels: A Berkeley Conversation” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Monday night.

This was the third public forum Berkeleyside has put on, part of its commitment to providing quality conversations and debates on issues that matter to Berkeley, both on- and off-line. (Scroll down for a slideshow, courtesy of Pete Rosos, from the forum.) … Continue reading »

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