This story is brought to you by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Berkeley Rep has announced their latest season, a six-play series that includes an inventive take on “Wuthering Heights;” a thriller by the team that created “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child;” and the return of Berkeley Rep’s former artistic director, Tony Taccone, with the world premiere of “Out of Character.”
Johanna Pfaelzer, Berkeley Rep’s current artistic director, says the 2022-23 slate of shows “promises bold theatricality, inventive storytelling and a range of voices that I hope speak to audiences in a deep and personal way.”
The season kicks off this November with the return of much-beloved director Emma Rice and her latest wildly imaginative theatrical experience. Audiences have been smitten with Rice and her whimsical aesthetic since 2011’s “The Wild Bride,” and Rice herself says she’s eager to return to the theater “that has supported, celebrated, shared and inspired me” for so many years.
This season, Rice reimagines Emily Brontë’s gothic masterpiece about the ill-fated romance between Heathcliff and Catherine. In her take on “Wuthering Heights,” expect live music, dance, passion, hope and a dash of impish irreverence, making for an intoxicating and modern revenge tragedy. “It is time!” Rice says. “Time to dance again, time to run across the moor again and time to dream again.”
Then in January, Lynn Nottage, the first — and only — woman to have twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, returns to Berkeley Rep for the first time since her extraordinary play “Ruined” in 2011. Nominated for the 2022 Tony Award for Best Play, “Clyde’s” is a comic drama that follows the formerly incarcerated kitchen staff at a truck-stop sandwich shop as they attempt to rebuild their lives. The show is directed by Taylor Reynolds.
Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer says that what she loves most about Nottage’s work is that “it’s always highly political, but she imbues the politics with tremendous humor and warmly realized characters.”
Next up is “Cambodian Rock Band,” which Lauren Yee developed in Berkeley Rep’s new works incubator program, The Ground Floor. After a pandemic pause, it plays in February, 2023, directed by Chay Yew.
Yee, who grew up in the Bay Area, says she’s thrilled to be back with a show that is “near and dear to my heart.” Her show tells the story of Chum, a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in 30 years as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia’s most infamous war criminals. The show features a live band playing contemporary hits by LA surf and garage psychedelic band Dengue Fever along with classic Cambodian oldies.
In April, “English,” by award-winning playwright Sanaz Toossi, asks the central question: What happens to your sense of self when you speak a language that’s not your own? In this incisive seriocomedy set in a classroom in Iran, four adult students pursue fluency in a language that for them represents access, opportunity and even escape. One of two critically acclaimed plays by Toossi that ran in New York earlier this year, “English” won the 2022 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play.
Then May brings the supernatural thriller “Let the Right One In.” Before they bewitched audiences with “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” Tony Award winners Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, along with Obie Award winner Steven Hoggett, thrilled audiences in Great Britain and beyond with this coming-of-age romance and brutal vampire myth they adapted from the Swedish novel and film screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Pfaelzer says this show “does that incredibly rare thing in the theater, which is to make me gasp out loud.”
Closing out the season in June, Berkeley’s own Ari’el Stachel teams up with former Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone to tell his story in the world premiere solo show, “Out of Character.”
A Tony Award winner for his role in “The Band’s Visit,” Stachel grew up in Berkeley, an Israeli American of Yemeni Jewish descent. Then came 9/11. Desperate to avoid taunts and threats at school, Stachel hid his Middle Eastern background for years. When he won the Tony Award, he dedicated it to his parents, saying, “I concealed, and I missed so many special events with them. And they’re looking at me right now, and I can’t believe it.”
“Out of Character” explores the intersections of race, mental health and survival in a way that’s raw, authentic and entertaining. Stachel says that he’s thrilled “to begin a new chapter of my artistic life at Berkeley Rep, where I was first introduced to the power of storytelling.”
Visit Berkeley Rep for more information about the upcoming season and how to become a subscriber.
This story was written and paid for by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, whose mission is to create ambitious theatre that entertains and challenges its audiences, provokes civic engagement and inspires people to experience the world in new and surprising ways.