This holiday season, Berkeley Repertory Theatre welcomes back a beloved artist for an alluring and hypnotic world-premiere production. Mary Zimmerman is mesmerizing. From Metamorphoses to The Arabian Nights, audiences have embraced her enchanting adaptations of epic tales. Now the Tony Award-winning director casts a spell with The White Snake, a classic romance from Chinese legend. As she falls for a charming young man, a snake spirit discovers what it means to be human. But a monk objects, and the bride must unveil her magical powers to save their love.
With The White Snake, Zimmerman unwraps another exquisite gift for Bay Area theatregoers. A co-production with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this new show starts previews in the Roda Theatre on November 9, opens November 14, and runs through December 23. The executive producers of the local run are Pam and Rich Nichter and Shirley D. and Philip D. Schild. The co-sponsor is Mechanics Bank Wealth Management. The season producers are Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Marjorie Randolph, Jack and Betty Schafer, and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family. For the eighth straight year, BART and Wells Fargo serve as the official sponsors of Berkeley Rep’s season.
“This is our seventh show with Mary, and it may be her finest work yet,” says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “Over the years, our audience, our staff, and our volunteers have developed a deep relationship with her ingenuity and vision. We eagerly anticipate each time Mary returns to transform an ancient tale into a fresh look at our shared humanity. The White Snake is a story about the limits – and the transcendence – of love, told with her signature style that turns simplicity into splendor. I look forward to sharing it with our community.”
“Berkeley is my theatrical home away from home,” Zimmerman remarks. “I've done more shows there than anywhere outside of Chicago. I love working at Berkeley Rep because everyone is so nice and smart and good at what they do, and the audience is quick and clever as well. I have a special feeling about this new show, and it ends up going in a surprising direction. It surprised even me! The White Snake is pretty and funny and romantic and then, suddenly, quite different. I am hopeful it will play well in Berkeley.”
“Terrific… Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman’s moving world-premiere production already has audiences grasping for appropriate superlatives. The work is a remarkable piece of theatrical imagination, the kind Zimmerman has specialized in with productions such as Metamorphoses, Argonautika, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci and Arabian Nights,” says the Sacramento Bee. “Zimmerman has created an epic tale of love and sacrifice with spectacular visual appeal, plenty of humor and remarkable emotional depth.”
Mary Zimmerman received the 2002 Tony Award for Best Director and a 1998 MacArthur Fellowship. This is her seventh show for Berkeley Rep, following acclaimed productions of The Arabian Nights, Argonautika, Journey to the West, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and The Secret in the Wings. These plays – and others that she’s adapted and directed such as Eleven Rooms of Proust, The Odyssey, Silk, and S/M – have enjoyed celebrated runs at Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Goodman Theatre, the Huntington Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, the Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theatre Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Second Stage Theatre. She also directed All’s Well That Ends Well and Pericles for the Goodman, Henry VIII and Measure for Measure for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Huntington. In 2002, Zimmerman created a new opera with Philip Glass called Galileo Galilei, which was presented at BAM, the Goodman, and the Barbican in London. In recent years, she has staged Armida, Lucia di Lammermoor, and La Sonnambula for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Based in Chicago, Zimmerman has won 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards – the city’s top theatrical honors – including prizes for best production and best direction. She is a member of Lookingglass, an artistic associate of the Goodman, and a professor of performance studies at Northwestern University.