Aristophanes meets Culture Clash, and the results is The Birds -- Aristophanes' bawdy comedy, that is, which Culture Clash and John Glore have newly adapted. The Birds played Jan. 23-Feb. 22 at South Coast Repertory, which is co-producing the show with Berkeley Repertory. The production then moved to Berkeley for a run that concludes April 25.
Aristophanes (448-330 BC) wrote an estimated 40 plays, 11 of which survive, notably The Birds and Lysistrata.
Culture Clash, a Latino-oriented comedy group composed of Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza, has already performed two of its topical shows at SCR: Carpa Clash and Radio Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami.
"South Coast Rep approached Culture Clash with an eye toward working with the group on a suitable project," said Glore, the theatre's literary manager. "They suggested that it be a classic. We had some meetings and discussed writers like Moliere and Shakespeare, but Aristophanes was the one who sounded right, if only because he writes political satire."
"First we workshopped a straight version of The Birds," said Glore. "It didn't work because it was too topical for today. So we decided to do our own adaptation." For the next year and a half, Glore and Culture Clash worked as a writing team, with the goal of being faithful to Aristophanes' theme but making the story and dialogue more relevant to the 20th century.
"We worked from a multicultural perspective," Glore said, "and somewhere along the line we decided that the Greek chorus should sing songs, so the composer Michael Roth was brought in. We've avoided calling this adaptation of The Birds a musical, but it is musical in nature."
The Birds stars African-American actor Victor Mack, and Culture Clash is playing all the comic roles.
"We kept workshopping the show," Glore said, "and at one point invited the people from Berkeley Rep down. They liked what they saw and have agreed to co-produce and transfer the show north when it closes here."
For tickets to The Birds at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St., call (510) 845 4700.