Berkeley Repertory Theatre has opted to return to live performances on Oct. 1 — opening with a race-themed world premiere drama so timely that it seems to be begging to get on the stage.
That show is the Berkeley Rep-commissioned “the ripple, the wave that carried me home,” by Christina Anderson. The show, developed as part of the Rep’s Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab, centers on a young Black woman dealing with racial injustice and her status as the daughter of famous activist parents.
The seven-show season, running into June 2022, also includes a comedy/drama from noted playwright Charles L. Mee (“Big Love”) and directed by Les Water; a musical built on tunes by popular folk-rock band the Avett Brothers; a world premiere musical by Saheem Ali (“School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play”) and Michael Thurber; a new musical by the creator of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”; and a politically charged comedy-thriller featuring the songs of Cambodian rock band Dengue Fever. In addition, Berkeley Rep will host solo performances by author legendary Fran Lebowitz and popular storyteller Mike Birbiglia.
“We are beyond delighted to finally have a date on which we can all return to our theaters,” says Berkeley Rep artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer. “I know artists and audiences alike have been longing for this moment, when we can once again gather together to share these deeply human stories. We are counting the days ’til October 1!”
Seven-play subscription packages range from $196-$644 (with several discounts available), and four-play packages run $240-$300. Single tickets will go on sale at a later date. Go to www.berkeleyrep.org for more details.
Here is the season in a nutshell.
“the ripple, the wave that carried me home”: World premiere by Christina Anderson, directed by Miranda Haymon, opens Oct. 1 at Peet’s Theatre. After breaking away from her famous activist parents to establish her own life, a young Black woman returns home to a host of issues when she is asked to speak at an event honoring her father.
“Wintertime”: By Charles L. Mee, directed by Les Waters, opens Nov. 12 in Roda Theatre. Mee’s new comedy/drama centers on members of an eccentric family who gather at their summer home “supposedly secret rendezvous” and high-energy chaos ensues.
“Swept Away”: World premiere musical with book by John Logan and music and lyrics by the Avett Brothers, directed by Michael Mayer; opens Jan. 9 in Peet’s Theatre. Mayer, who’s helmed “Spring Awakening,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and Green Day’s “American Idiot” (which premiered at Berkeley Rep) directs this collaboration by Logan (“Red,” “Moulin Rouge”) and the Avett Brothers about four survivors of a whaling ship disaster in 1888 off the New England Coast.
“Goddess”: World premiere conceived and directed by Saheem Ali, music and lyrics by Michael Thurber, book by Jocelyn Bioh; opens March 19 in Roda Theatre. A young scion of a powerful family in Kenya returns home to get married and assert his place in the family dynasty. But everything changes when he meets a young singer in a nightclub.
“Octet”: West Coast premiere of a musical by Dave Malloy, directed by Annie Tippe; opens April 20 in Peet’s Theatre. Malloy (“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”) fashioned this new musical about eight internet addicts who meet to share stories, songs and personal demons.
“Cambodian Rock Band”: By Lauren Yee, with songs by Dengue Fever, directed by Chay Yew; opens June 3, 2022 in Roda Theatre. Described as a thriller of a dark comedy, the play with music involves a survivor of the Khmer Rouge atrocities returning to Cambodia as his daughter is about to prosecute a member of the murderous Pol Pot regime. The action is backed backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever songs and classic Cambodian tunes.
“Sanctuary City”: West Coast premiere by Martyna Majok; opens July 8, 2022, in Peet’s Theatre. Majok, a Pulitzer Prize winner for “Coast of Living,” centers her new work on two young undocumented immigrants (DREAMers) struggling to establish themselves in America.
“Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool”: Written and performed by Mike Birbiglia, directed by Seth Barrish; opens Jan. 4 in Roda Theatre. Popular comedian and storyteller Birbiglia returns to Berkeley Rep with “a tale of life, death, and his visits to a highly chlorinated YMCA pool.”
Fran Lebowitz: In appearance, six shows beginning Jan. 21, Roda Theatre. The author, commentator and actor appeared to sold-out crowds at Berkeley Rep three years ago. Now she is back to dish on matters ranging from politics to pop culture and the media to her pet peeves (which are in abundance).