Tag Archives: Berkeley Rep

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

Black Lilies
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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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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 »


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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‘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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Zimmerman reinvents Chinese legend at Berkeley Rep

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The worldwide premiere of The White Snake, Mary Zimmerman’s atmospheric retelling of an ancient Chinese legend, is a visual and artistic wonderland. Zimmerman conceived, wrote and directed The White Snake in the spirit of her previous Berkeley Rep productions, which include Metamorphoses and The Arabian Nights. Zimmerman and the talented cast and crew make the ancient story come alive by using their imagination, creative vision, beautiful aesthetic and inventive stage techniques.

The tale of the white snake, originally published in 981 CE, has transmogrified over time. It began as a cautionary fable in which a man has a brief affair with a woman dressed in white. The man soon becomes ill and dies. It later seems that there never was a woman dressed in white, only a white snake. Moral: beware the evil snake disguised as a beautiful woman. Much later, the fable developed into a love story in which a white snake risks all for love. … Continue reading »

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Woronicz is a tour de force in Berkeley Rep’s “An Iliad”

An Iliad2
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At Berkeley Rep, one phenomenal actor on a bare stage performs a version of The Iliad — and keeps us spellbound for 100 minutes.

This haunting, yet animated theatrical event focuses on events in the tenth and final year of the siege of Troy, supposedly about the 13th century B.C. An Iliad concentrates on the wrath and vengeance of two heroic warriors on opposite sides of the battles, the Greek Achilles and Hector for Troy (Ilion). Achilles seeks to return Helen to her husband, Menelaus of Mycenae, while Hector wants to keep her for Paris, the mortal prince of Troy. This is such a compelling theatrical story that it was wise to eliminate most of the other sections of the Iliad.

Henry Woronicz first appears the Poet, with his arms outstretched speaking the opening lines of Book I of The Iliad in Greek on the dark Thrust stage; he is dressed in nondescript military clothes of a past era. Even though most of the audience doesn’t understand his words, his speech pattern and gestures signify his importance. … Continue reading »

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Arpeggio Building sold, to open in September

The Arpeggio Building at 2055 Center Street.
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The Arpeggio Building at 2055 Center Street, which was once envisioned as gleaming tower of pricy condos, has been sold to a real estate group that plans to open it as apartments in late September.

CityView, a real estate fund founded by Henry Cisneros, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, paid $60 million for the 143-unit, nine-story building. Its seller was Dallas-based SNK Realty, which had secured a $65 million loan from U.S. Bank as part of its $81 million development of the project.

“We’re really excited,” said Anthony Cardoza, managing director of CityView’s $300 million Bay Area Fund and a resident of Berkeley until last year. “I think it will be nice for the urban core. Berkeley continues to want to invest in downtown. The more bodies you have down there, the more people living there, the more it changes the foot traffic and the feel of the downtown community – for the better.” … Continue reading »

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Eve Ensler hopes to spark “girl revolution”

Berkeley Rep’s world premiere of Emotional Creature features six talented young women: (l to r) Joaquina Kalukango, Sade Namei, Olivia Oguma, Ashley Bryant, Emily S. Grosland, and Molly Carden.
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Eve Ensler wants nothing less than to start a revolution, and she is hoping Berkeley will be its epicenter.

Friday night marks Berkeley Rep’s world premiere of Emotional Creature, a 90-minute play based on Ensler’s bestselling 2010 book, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.

In its stage adaption, six young actresses sing, dance, and talk about the promises and perils of being a young woman in the world today. They confront social pressures, homophobia, sexual slavery, female circumcision, factory work and the pressures to conform, but they also celebrate the power of their own voices and convictions.

“What if girls were really encouraged and supported to be their own selves?” said Ensler on Thursday as Berkeley Rep made final tweaks on the production. “How different the world would be. What we tell girls is ‘you are too alive. You are too passionate.’ We put words on it like hysterical and out of control. We put definitions on their life force.” … Continue reading »

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