Even before its latest hit heads to Hong Kong, Berkeley Repertory Theatre is enjoying another season in which its shows travel far and wide. American Idiot has crossed the Atlantic, Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men is in the Windy City, and soon Emotional Creature begins an off-Broadway run in Manhattan. This month, plays born at Berkeley Rep are popping up in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chicago, and New York – with Dublin and London close behind.
These are just the latest milestones in a long history of creativity that impacts the world well beyond the Bay Area. In the last 10 years alone, three shows developed at Berkeley Rep have landed in London, seven ended up on Broadway, and a dozen arrived off Broadway even as others toured the nation… and soon Chinglish ships off to audiences in Asia!
"It's easy to forget, as we're focused on producing shows here at home, how audiences around the world are just discovering our past work," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "We are proud that these projects have gone on to such success, and grateful to local theatregoers who embarked on those experiments with us. We remain committed to introducing smart and provocative new scripts that speak to our times – and hope to share them with audiences near and far."
Green Day's American Idiot, the raucous rock musical that burst onto Broadway after a record-breaking run at Berkeley Rep, launched a British invasion this month. With two Tony Awards and a Grammy in tow, the show began a nine-week tour of Ireland and the United Kingdom on October 9. After six shows in Southampton, it let loose in Wales with eight dates in Cardiff. Now it's rocking Scotland for three weeks as audiences snap up seats for 16 shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Then it hops the Irish Sea to play six days in Dublin before returning to England for 24 performances in Manchester and Birmingham. The tour culminates in December, when American Idiot arrives in London for two weeks at the Hammersmith Apollo. Tickets and tour information for a Berkeley Idiot in Britain can be found at americanidiotthemusical.co.uk.
Meanwhile, after a world premiere at Berkeley Rep in June, the original cast and creative team of Eve Ensler's Emotional Creature are eager to begin their off-Broadway run. Previews start this Friday in Manhattan, with an official opening set for November 12. This is the 26th play in the last 25 years to move from Berkeley Rep to New York City! Creature unleashes its emotion and energy at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre in the Pershing Square Signature Center – only a few blocks from where American Idiot rocked Broadway for more than a year. Tickets can be purchased at ticketcentral.com or by calling (212) 279-4200. For details, visit emotionalcreature.com.
Girls are the heart of Emotional Creature, yet the focus is on the opposite sex in Chicago, where Dael Orlandersmith delivers another blistering performance of Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men. The powerful play that premiered in May at Berkeley Rep is halfway through its run at the renowned Goodman Theatre, which co-commissioned and co-produced the show. It's earned a chorus of critical praise from publications like the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and Time Out Chicago, which proclaimed the monologues "riveting in their candor and devastating in their impact… Orlandersmith approaches her characters with boundless empathy and fearlessness when it comes to uncovering ugly truths. She is especially good at conveying the coarsening effects of growing up in an environment of violence. In the process, she makes a convincing case for a masculinity that combines both strength and tenderness." Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men continues at the Goodman's Owen Theatre through October 28. For tickets or more specifics, call (312) 443-3800 or visit goodmantheatre.org.
As these shows traverse the globe, Berkeley Rep is busy creating new work here at home. The latest season of exhilarating plays features three world premieres, two West Coast premieres, and an array of artists who have collectively won 11 Obie Awards, four Tony Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. Chinglish, the hit comedy from David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman, just ended its extended run as Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare opened a visceral new version of An Iliad starring Henry Woronicz. Next, Mary Zimmerman gives the Bay Area a beautiful gift for the holidays with The White Snake, and Dan LeFranc greets the New Year with Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. Then Lawrence Wright teams up with Oskar Eustis for Fallaci before Berkeley Rep brings the Bard back with a bang in MarK Wing-Davey's production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Finally Sarah Ruhl and Les Waters reunite for Dear Elizabeth in May.