Berkeley Repertory Theatre artistic director Tony Taccone announced the Tony Award-winning California company's 2009-10 season, to boast three world premieres including works by Lisa Kron, songwriter Matthew Sweet, librettist Todd Almond and Naomi Iizuka.
The West Coast premiere of short works by Tony Kushner and a circus-oriented spectacle (Aurélia's Oratorio) performed by Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter were also announced on March 23. Two additional productions will be revealed later.
"It's a brave new world out there, and we intend to meet it with a collection of brave new plays," Taccone said in a statement. "In uncertain times, I believe the artistic risks we take at Berkeley Rep become even more relevant and important — so I'm pleased that we can honor our commitment to new work with these fine artists and this daring season. It's always a pleasure to collaborate with Tony Kushner, and I'm delighted to welcome Naomi Iizuka back to our stage. Add new talent like Todd Almond, Lisa Kron, Leigh Silverman, Matthew Sweet, and Aurélia Thierrée to the mix, and it promises to be quite a year."
Here's the Berkeley Rep's 42nd season at a glance:
Oct. 16–Nov. 29: Tiny Kushner, a series of short scripts by Tony Kushner. "The legendary playwright returns to Berkeley Rep to team up with artistic director Tony Taccone, who also staged Angels in America, Brundibar, Homebody/Kabul and Slavs! Kushner brings his brilliance and humor to bear in a sparkling string of one-act plays — and his gilded language is guided, as always, by an unwavering moral compass. Travel to the moon — and to the afterlife — with Laura Bush, Nixon's analyst, the queen of Albania, and a host of real-life tax evaders, all adrift in an increasingly fragile world." A West Coast premiere on the intimate Thrust Stage.
Dec. 4, 2009–Jan. 24, 2010: Aurélia Thierrée, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, appears in Aurélia's Oratorio…a "dazzling display of stage illusion," written and directed by her mother, Victoria Thierrée Chaplin. "Behind her velvet curtain lies a surreal world of surprises, a topsy-turvy time of tricks and transformations. With dancing, puppetry, acrobatics, and more, is an inventive adventure set to a quirky score of chamber music and gypsy jazz." The 90-minute family-friendly spectacle will play in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre.
Feb. 26–April 11, 2010: Naomi Iizuka (36 Views) "explores the intersection of art and authenticity in a haunting new play" commissioned by Berkeley Rep: Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West. In this world premiere, "wealthy Americans invade Yokohama in the 1880s with a weird new technology. Their cameras capture images of geishas, monks, and shrines and send them to the future in a flash — where we continue to seek meaning through lenses of exoticism and xenophobia." The play takes its title from the first treatise on photography translated into Japanese. Obie Award-winner Les Waters will direct on the Roda stage.
April 9–May 9, 2010: Todd Almond is the librettist of Girlfriend, "a new musical wound around the tender love songs of Matthew Sweet's landmark album." In this world premiere, boy meets boy. "It's an eternal story turned upside down, a dual-Romeo duet" directed by Les Waters for Berkeley Rep's intimate Thrust Stage.
May 14-June 27, 2010: Berkeley Rep and Center Theatre Group present Five Questions, a world premiere from the creators of Broadway's Well — Obie Award winners Lisa Kron and director Leigh Silverman. "After an idyllic Thanksgiving filled with food, football, family, and friends, a woman discovers how one kiss — one passionate act — can affect everything…her faith in love, her faith in country, her faith in herself. This tale of heartache and hope unfolds against the turmoil of American politics in the 21st century." In the Roda Theatre. For more information, visit www.berkeleyrep.org.
The to-be-announced works will play the Roda Theatre Sept. 4–Oct.11, and the Thrust Stage Jan. 15-Feb. 28, 2010.