A world premiere exploration of intellectual freedom by Lillian Groag (The Magic Fire) and a children's tale by Salman Rushdie are among the highlights of Berkeley Repertory Theatre's 2002-03 season. Also featured are a new revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves and the world premiere of Francesca Faridany's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's novella "Fraulein Else."
Playing Nov. 1-Dec. 22 in the Roda Theatre, Groag's Menocchio is set in 17th Century Italy, where questioning the status quo could result in charges of heresy and death. Menocchio, a simple miller, begins thinking on the world around him, when suddenly his neighbors are fainting at his conclusions and the Inquisition is getting very suspicious. Groag will also direct this comedy based on the true history of Domenico Scandella, a miller challenged by the Inquistion. Charles Dean, Dan Hiatt, Sharon Lockwood and Ken Ruta will star.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories was adapted from Rushdie's children's story by Tim Supple and David Tushingham. Dominique Serrand of Theatre de la Jeune Lune directs this story of a young boy and his father, a famous storyteller who has lost his ability to tell tales, and their journey to earth's second moon in order to foil evil cultmaster Khattam-Shud's plan to dam the Ocean of the Streams of Story. Haroun plays Nov. 15-Jan. 5, 2003 in the Roda Theatre.
Barbara Dameshek directs the dark comedy House of Blue Leaves, opening Berkeley Rep's season Sept. 6-Oct. 27 in the Roda Theatre. Blue Leaves finds wannabe Hollywood composer Artie Shaughnessy lusting for something more in life for himself and his girlfriend Bunny. Unfortunately, he's saddled with an unstable wife named Bananas, a missing son who is plotting to bomb the Pope and his job at the zoo.
"Fraulein Else" is Schnitzler's 1924 stream-of-conscious tale of Else, an excitable and exciting young woman plunging head on into the decadent world of Freud's Vienna. Adaptor Faridany will also star as Else. Stephen Wadsworth directs Fraulein Else, playing Feb. 28-March 30, 2003 in the Roda Theatre. Also included in the 2002-2003 season will be Tennesse Williams' Suddenly Last Summer (Feb. 7-March 30, 2003) with Les Waters (Big Love) directing in the Roda Theatre and Sarah Jones' solo piece Surface Transit, playing April 18-May 18, 2003 on the Thrust Stage. A fifth play for the Roda mainstage season has yet to be announced.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre is located at 2025 Addison Street. For tickets ($38-$54), call (510) 647-2949. Berkeley Rep is on the web at http://www.berkeleyrep.org.
— By Christine Ehren