Tag Archives: Berkeley Rep
By Emily S. Mendel
Berkeley Rep’s The Wild Bride is a fantastic theatrical experience. Fresh from England, the extraordinary Kneehigh Theatre traveled to Berkeley to bring us a rare holiday gift — an imaginative creation based on an ancient fairy tale, with a cast of only six ultra-talented actors/musicians/dancers. In the course of the evening, the troupe enchants us, scares us, moves us and jokes with us.
This haunting, yet animated theatrical event follows the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairytale, The Handless Maiden, but is set in the rural South. A daughter is mistakenly sold to the devil by her naïve father. The daughter, aka The Girl, is too clean for the devil to take her, so she is bathed in excrement and mud. The devil, finding her still too pure, forces her father to cut off her hands. The Girl’s bloody arms emerge from a bucket. Thus, shamed, angry and amputated, The Girl escapes into the woods to begin the next phase of her life. … Continue reading »
Les Waters, an Obie-winning Brit who has served as Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s assistant artistic director for eight years, is leaving the theater to take over as artistic director at The Actors Theater of Louisville, Kentucky.
Waters, 59, will assume the role in January, but will not take on fulltime duties until March, after he directs Berkeley Rep’s production of Red, the theater announced Tuesday.
“After eight years together, it is difficult to leave Berkeley – yet it is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville, an organization I’ve long admired,” Waters said in a statement.
“I’ve had the opportunity to direct twice at Actors Theatre, and I was deeply impressed with the theatre, its staff, and the community at large. 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.” … Continue reading »
Edward Albee was in the audience for the opening night of “A Delicate Balance” at the Aurora Theatre earlier this month. He stood up at the play’s end, joining many others to give the actors a standing ovation. Tom Ross, who directed the play, had not told his cast that the renowned author of the play they were performing would be present on their first night. It would have given them the jitters, he said — even more than … Continue reading »
Sound is life at the Meyer Sound facility on San Pablo. The 32-year-old Berkeley business continues to churn out professional sound products for concert halls, churches and traveling bands from around the world.
“We’re a family-run company, privately owned still,” said Helen Meyer, executive vice president of Meyer Sound. “We’re still private to this day. That’s kind of a unique feature of our company.”
I sat down with the Meyers to discuss sound, local lifestyles and new technologies.
CEO John Meyer founded the company in 1979 after he and Helen attended an inaudible Donovan concert at the Oakland Coliseum. When they sat down to take in the performance from one of their favorite folk singers, the couple soon realized they couldn’t hear a thing.
“It was barely louder than if someone was just there without anything,” John said. “Everyone in the audience was dead quiet and we still couldn’t hear. We said, ‘there’s got to be a better way.’ ” … Continue reading »
Anna Deavere Smith’s latest one-woman play “Let Me Down Easy” is like a novella of stories – the individual vignettes are bold and interesting, but are only loosely linked.
From her spot-on impersonation of Lance Armstrong, whose body is so kinetic it can’t stay still, to pretending to be the bed-ridden, cancer-stricken film critic Joel Siegel, to her poignant portrayal of Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, an intern who was shocked by the way her superiors at Charity Hospital in New Orleans treated Katrina victims, Smith is mesmerizing in her ability to channel the words and quirks of her characters.
The 105-minute play is based on interviews with more than 320 people on three continents over a ten-year period. Smith focuses on 20 of those characters and uses their verbatim interviews to create a heart-wrenching portrait of our attitudes toward our bodies, their strengths and weaknesses, and our feelings about death.
On a stage sparsely decorated with a white couch, a dining table with chairs, and huge hanging mirrors, Smith changes lightening-fast from one person to another. She dons a piece of clothing or picks up a prop like a bottle of beer or coffee mug to delineate each character, and then discards those items on the stage as the play progresses. It’s almost a metaphor for her overarching theme: that life is ethereal and short. We are here and then we are not. The props are of use and then they are not, but traces of them remain. … Continue reading »
Following its recent move to a new campus in west Berkeley, the Berkeley Rep is doing some spring cleaning and will hold a costume, props and furniture clearance sale at its former storage facility on Carleton Street on April 15-16.
“We literally have tons of things to sell. There are loads of comfortable clothes – like jeans and hoodies – as well as vintage suits and dresses, period hats, and plenty of shoes,” says Costume Director Maggi Yule. ”We’ve got … Continue reading »
It seems the Artistic Director of the Berkeley Rep has something of a “following”. In fact, read the comments on a story we ran about him last week, and it becomes clear a certain group of fans is positively smitten with Tony Taccone, speaking with more than a little hyperbole of his brazen attractiveness, his warm personality, handsome features — even his prowess as a lover.
Berkeleyside has reason to believe these people might know … Continue reading »
At the start of the second half of “Ruined” at the Berkeley Rep, several members of the cast make their way through the stalls, laughing, reaching out to greet audience members, bursting into song. It’s an attempt at levity, a stab at lightening the mood, but while appreciated, it is doomed. The tone has been set, and even a relatively upbeat end-note does not relieve the tension this unflinching drama creates from the outset.
“Ruined” is set in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a civil war in which many of the victims are women — it is estimated that 200,000 women have been raped there in the past decade.
In the drama, whose beautiful set, designed by Clint Ramos, stands in strong contrast to the anguish that will be played out upon it, we watch a tale of survival unfold. … Continue reading »
At the end of every performance of “The Last Cargo Cult” at Berkeley Rep, monologist Mike Daisey invited the audience to return to him some of the cash that had been handed out at the beginning of the show.
As members of the audience had walked in, they had been handed crisp $1, $5, $10, $20 or $100 bills.
The money represented what Berkeley Rep had paid him for each performance. Daisey challenged the audience to decide how much his show was worth. They were informed they could keep the money, give it back, or even add a little extra. … Continue reading »
A row of parked fire engines made an impressive sight on a rainy Friday afternoon on Addison Street as, inside the Berkeley Repertory Thrust Theatre, eight Berkeley firefighers were promoted in a badge-pinning ceremony which also served to remind the audience what an honorable group of men and women serve and protect the Berkeley community.
Led by Fire Chief Debra Pryor, the February 18 ceremony saw close friends and family members — wives, children, mothers — proudly pinning new badges onto the lapels of the newly promoted firefighters.
Several of the firefighters being honored spoke of the sacrifices being made by their families, but the camaraderie of the force, and its ability to act as a second family to many of those who serve, was also in evidence.
Tony Taccone, artistic director of the Berkeley Repertory Theater, had a particularly engaging and revealing interview with KQED’s Dave Iverson on this morning’s Forum program.
Under Taccone the Rep has established a strong record of originating works that go on to great acclaim in New York, including the current double-Tony winner American Idiot. In the interview, Taccone spoke frankly about the Rep’s constant struggle to focus on its local audiences rather than the lure of New … Continue reading »
For more than two hours I had watched Daisey shout, scream, murmur, and sweat as he spun a tale about the mysteries of a South Pacific island and the mysterious devotion Westerners have to cash. With little more than a few sheets of notes, a glass of water, a table, a handkerchief to wipe off his brow, and a backdrop of dozens of cardboard boxes featuring every conceivable type of consumer product, Daisey had managed to keep the audience captivated.
Starting with the chilling tale of how he almost died in a island puddle-hopper, and continuing through with stories of his (almost) middle class childhood in Maine, his rude awakening as a freshmen in college that some of his classmates had a lot cooler gadgets than he would ever be able to afford, and on to tales of our obsession with objects, Daisey was a force-field, drawing the audience further and further into his orbit.
Granted, not all the stories he told were engrossing. I didn’t really care for his recounting of the nine-hour dance pageant performed in the honor of one John Frum on the island of Vanuatu. And while he tries to make “The Last Cargo Cult,” a piece that calls into question the centrality of possessions and the willingness of Americans to bow to the mighty dollar, he doesn’t quite succeed. Yet I had a very good time going along for the ride.
(Warning: spoiler coming up)
Berkeley Repertory Theater has acquired a new campus in West Berkeley to house all of its pre-production activities, including offices, costume, prop and scene shop, and storage. The 62,000 sq. ft. building at 999 Harrison will give the Rep approximately 50% more space than it currently uses for these activities at roughly half the current cost of the five sites it currently uses in Berkeley and Oakland.
“It’s been a necessity for a couple of decades but it became really … Continue reading »