Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California has spent a year and a half building a new theatre, and March 13 the Tony Award-winning company stages its first production in the new space. With a gala dinner hosted by Rita Moreno and a performance of Aeschylus' The Oresteia, the Rep celebrates the addition of a 600-seat proscenium theatre to their 401 seat thrust stage theatre.
The new three-story structure, set to include a 171-seat balcony, an 80 foot fly tower, a trap door, dressing rooms, a donor room, expanded restrooms and an outdoor courtyard, between the original thrust stage and the Nevo Education Center, the Rep's theatre school. The project, begun in August 1999, cost some $16 million, augmented by gifts from the City of Berkeley ($4 million) and the Ask Jeeves Foundation ($2 million).
The grand opening on March 13 begins with dinner overlooking the theatre and ends with dessert and dancing in the newly expanded Narsai David courtyard. Robert Fagles' translation of The Oresteia, directed by Stephen Wadsworth and the Rep's artistic director Tony Taccone, has never been performed in its entirety until this production.
The Oresteia combines Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides. Derrick Lee Weeden stars as Agamemnon and Hermes with Miriam Laub as Electra, Robynn Rodriguez as Clytaemnestra, Myla Balugay as Iphigeneia, Francesca Faridany as Cassandra, Helen and a Citizen, Duane Boutté as Orestes, Michelle Morain as Athena and Jonathan Haugen as Apollo.
On March 17, in honor of the City of Berkeley's support of the theatre company, Berkeley Repertory will host a free community open house from noon to 5 PM. A tour and entertainment by local artists will be featured during the event. For information on the Opening Gala Dinner, call Lynn Eve Fortin at (510) 647-2900. To schedule a tour time on March 17, call (510) 647-2900. To order tickets to The Oresteia, running through May 6, call (510) 647-2949. Berkeley Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.berkeleyrep.org.
March 6, Mayor Shirley Dean headed up the 10 AM ribbon-cutting at the new theatre alongside the Rep's Martin Zankel, Tony Taccone and Susan Medak. A reception followed on the Narsai David Courtyard.
— By Christine Ehren