TARTUFFE: Molière’s classic comedy, translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur

Berkeley, CA – September 2018 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) continues its 2018-19 season with Tartuffe, a daring and witty comedy that tells the story of a crafty trickster who uses religion as a guise to flatter the vulnerability of a wealthy patriarch. Initially censored following its 1664 premiere, the play is one of Molière’s most famous works and will be presented at the Zellerbach Playhouse stage on the UC Berkeley campus. Translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur, and directed by Domenique Lozano, Tartuffe runs November 9-18. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office or at the door.

A con man disguised as a pious spiritual leader wheedles his way into the home of a gullible, affluent man in the midst of a mid-life crisis—and promptly sets the household topsy turvy. If not for the quick witted Dorine, grounded Elmire, and infinitely patient Cléante, all might be lost! Lechery, egotism, young love, deception, and delusion collide in Tartuffe, Molière’s classic work that skewers religious hypocrisy and self-inflated egotism.

Tartuffe hits the heart of present and historical events. “I think it’s a perfect play for our times; this very moment in our history,” observes Director Domenique Lozano. “Watching Tartuffe, we can start to imagine a real scenario where such an imposter and con man can take over a seemingly normal and balanced family’s life. But as we have learned in our current times, even the most respected house can be corrupted. So, this story has resonance and relevance in a very direct way.”

Tartuffe
 examines how power is vulnerable to manipulation by piety, hypocrisy, and gullibility. Although King Louis XIV privately enjoyed Tartuffe’s debut, he was persuaded by religious advisors to ban the play after church leaders called Molière “a devil clothed in human flesh” and the Archbishop of Paris threatened to excommunicate anyone who attended a performance. Molière’s defense of Tartuffe argued that comedy is a physical embodiment of “the unreasonable”, and so the play of reason against the irrational is the necessary subject of comedy. “I love that it is a comedy,” shares Lozano, “one that moves with lightning speed, slams characters up against each other brutally and brilliantly, and deals with a terrifying situation with humor, wit and grace.”  

Lozano embraces the challenge of working with the play’s rhyming couplets and verse: “Molière’s humor and astonishing wit in the rhyme invites us into a world where people are boldly exposed and revealed. The rhyming allows him to be brutally honest. He can say the most wicked things, or portray Tartuffe‘s avarice and underbelly so directly, but because it’s written in rhyme, we don’t turn our faces away. Rather, we laugh and actually ‘see’ it more clearly. The rhyme keeps the piece from being a dark tragedy, and in a way, gives us hope.”

Significantly, Tartuffe is presented within UC Berkeley’s deep-rooted tradition of critical inquiry, debate, and freedom of expression, and Lozano hopes that audience members might become inspired to start conversations or feel compelled to take action. She explains, “To be doing this play at Berkeley is meaningful given the University’s historical commitment to education and a diverse search for the truth. Molière was fearless in his depiction of hypocrisy and corruption. He risked everything and fought his entire career for these specific plays to have the right to be performed and seen.”

View the press release.

TDPS presents 70 Scenes of Halloween, a sly, surreal comedy by Jeffrey M Jones, October 11-14, 2018

Berkeley, CA – September 2018 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) opens its 2018-19 season with 70 Scenes of Halloween, a spooky, scrambled, and sly comedy that transforms the unraveling of a marriage into a frighteningly funny and fantastical romp. Written by experimental playwright Jeffrey M Jones, this fast-moving scuffle will be presented in an intimate configuration on the Zellerbach Playhouse stage on the UC Berkeley campus. Directed by Christopher Herold, 70 Scenes of Halloween runs October 11-14. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/70-scenes-of-halloween/) or at the door.

The play reveals a young married couple, Jeff and Joan, who seem set to spend Halloween on their couch in a state of mild antagonism and mutual boredom. But as time fragments and reassembles, dark forces emerge and they must contend with ghosts, beasts, and witches banging on windows, wafting through rooms, and wielding butcher knives.

The turbulent tale abandons linear narrative in favor of 70 brief scenes played out of order, resulting in a wild, dreamlike ride that blends realism with psychological surprise and humor. One minute, the couple is greeting trick-or-treaters, and the next, they are succumbing to inner demons, chasing each other through the living room brandishing a butchered chicken. Husbands becomes wolves and wives become phantoms in this domestic drama about a marriage dying of familiarity. Their haunted home offers a weirdly comical and thought-provoking glimpse into the nature of relationships.

Jeffrey M Jones uses the traditional institution of Halloween to deliver a message of estrangement, and to assert the frequent inadequacy of language. The play is an autobiographical work written in 1980, during the collapse of Jones’ own marriage.  Adding to the absurdity, he dedicated the play to his wife, whose name was Joan.

“While 70 Scenes of Halloween can be described as a domestic tale about a disintegrating marriage, it also reveals more profound truths,” says director Christopher Herold, “—our inner demons, fears, hopes, and the power of forces over which we seem to have no control.”  Herold has been intrigued by this play for many years, in part because of the ability to arrange the scenes in any order—creating a different story, message, and journey with each composition. He is inspired by the play’s insightful revelation of the human condition, and its imaginative theatricality, explaining, “The play is a wonderful concoction of differing tones and genres, moving rapidly and slyly from wild humor to bleak despair, from living-room domesticity to time-warped, altered reality.  Additionally, it’s a work that the audience probably hasn’t seen before, providing a rare opportunity to engage something fresh and unknown.”

Production Details
70 Scenes of Halloween opens Thursday, October 11 and continues through Sunday, October 14, 2018 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/70-scenes-of-halloween/ or at the door.

70 Scenes of Halloween features scenic design by Alexandra Grabow, costume design by Miyuki Bierlein, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Ian D. Thomas. The cast includes Komi Gbeblewou, Edward Im, Devin Lizardi, Jade Moujaes, Verity Pinter, Lauren Richardson, Theo Rosenfeld, and Madeline Yagle.

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About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Christopher Herold
Mr. Herold teaches acting and directing for TDPS.  His directing credits at Berkeley include productions of  Metamorphoses, Summertime, The Ruling Class, Our Town, Sauce For the Goose, Suburban Motel, Three Sisters, Escape From Happiness, Orestes, Pterodactyls, Good, Noises Off, The Crucible, Funeral Games, Infancy, and How I Got That Story.  He is also a member of the faculty at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he serves as the Director of the Summer Training Congress.  At A.C.T., he has directed studio productions of Fuddy Meers, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, The Kentucky Cycle Part II, Galileo, and Escape From Happiness.  Mr. Herold has also taught at Stanford and The Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre.  The former Artistic Director and a founding member of Jawbone Theater Ensemble, his work with that company includes direction of the San Francisco premier of Manfred Karge’s Conquest of the South Pole and Samuel Beckett’s Play for the Bay Area Intimate Theater Festival.  Other directing credits include the San Francisco premier of Tick, Tick . . . Boom for Theatre Rhinoceros and the critically acclaimed Achilles and Patroclus for Central Works.  Locally, he has appeared in roles at Aurora Theatre, The Magic, Central Works, Theatre Rhinoceros, Shotgun Players, the Victoria Theater, and Yerba Buena Gardens.

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For Calendar Editors

70 SCENES OF HALLOWEEN by Jeffrey M Jones
In this quirky and inventive play, ordinary married couple Jeff and Joan seem set to spend Halloween on their couch in a state of mild antagonism and mutual boredom. But as time fragments and reassembles, dark forces emerge and the couple must contend with ghosts, beasts, and witches banging on windows, wafting through rooms, and wielding butcher knives.

Directed by Christopher Herold
October 11-14, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Thurs-Sat 8 PM; Sat-Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

TDPS 2018/2019 Season

70 SCENES OF HALLOWEEN
By Jeffrey M Jones
Directed by Christopher Herold 

In this quirky and inventive play, ordinary married couple Jeff and Joan seem set to spend Halloween on their couch in a state of mild antagonism and mutual boredom. But as time fragments and reassembles, dark forces emerge and the couple must contend with ghosts, beasts, and witches banging on their windows, wafting through their rooms, and wielding butcher knives. 
 
October 11-14, 2018 // The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall
Studio Production

TARTUFFE

By Molière, translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur
Directed by Domenique Lozano
 

A con man disguised as a pious spiritual leader wheedles his way into the home of a gullible wealthy man in the midst of a mid-life crisis—and promptly sets the household topsy turvy. If not for quick-witted Dorine, grounded Elmire, and patient Cléante, all might be lost! Lechery, egotism, young love, deception, and delusion collide in Moliere’s famous classic work that skewers religious hypocrisy and self-inflated egotism. 

November 9-18, 2018 // The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall
Playhouse Production
 
FALL CHOREOGRAPHY SHOWCASE
The Fall Choreography Showcase features the original work of emerging choreographers. Under the direction of choreographer and TDPS professor Joe Goode, TDPS students present original solos and duets.
 
December 6-7, 2018 // Zellerbach Room 7

BERKELEY
 DANCE PROJECT 2019

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of TDPS’s dance program, Berkeley Dance Project 2019 will feature new choreography by: Joe Goode; Rulan Tangen; Latanya Tigner; a current student; and an alumnus of the dance program, selected from a call for applications.

February 21-March 2, 2018 // The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall
Playhouse Production
 
STUDENT-DIRECTED ONE-ACTS

TDPS presents a curated evening of one-acts. Selections and details about how students can apply to direct a piece will be announced at a later date.

March 14-17, 2018 // Durham Studio Theater
Studio Production
 
THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS
A new play with songs by Caridad Svich
Based on a novel by Isabel Allende
Directed by Michael Moran
 

Based on Isabel Allende’s best-selling novel, Caridad Svich’s The House of the Spirits follows three generations of the Trueba family — their loves, their ambitions, their spiritual quests, and their place in the post-colonial social and political turmoil embroiling their South American country. This darkly poetic adaptation incorporates magical realism to weave the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.

April 26-May 5, 2018 // The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall 
Playhouse Production


ADDITIONAL PROJECTS

A series of student workshops will be announced at a later date.

 

Professor Emeritus Mel Gordon Dies at 71

Melvin Gordon, a multifaceted theater scholar who was a world expert in Stanislavsky and acting theory, died on March 22 in Richmond, Calif., due to complications of renal failure. He was 71.

Gordon spent much of his career at the University of California, Berkeley’s department of theater, dance, and performance studies (formerly the department of dramatic art) at UC Berkeley as a faculty member from 1990-2015.

While at Berkeley, the inquisitive and light-hearted Gordon was known for lively and provocative undergraduate teaching, which included theater history, playwriting, acting, and a very popular course on bad acting. He also taught about less-studied theater traditions in circus and Yiddish theater.

Gordon’s wide range of publications included books and articles on Commedia dell’arte (Lazzi); Yiddish theater; the Grand Guignol (1988/1997); and a number of more or less sensational aspects of German popular and political culture of the 1920s and 1930s: “Voluptuous Panic” (The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, 2000); Erik Jan Hanussen: “Hitler’s Jewish Clairvoyant” (2001), “The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber (2006).

More recently, he wrote about his ongoing study of bad acting and was working on a new project about fascist love cults from 1922 to 1942.

Gordon also wrote film scripts, conducted many interviews on radio and TV/YouTube, and contributed numerous encyclopedia and museum entries. Occasionally he put his knowledge of acting theorists and European theater into practice while directing his own productions, in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and – early in the 1990s – on the Berkeley campus.

Born on Feb. 18, 1947 in Detroit, Gordon was raised by what he referred to as left-wing politically radical parents who encouraged free-thinking and critical curiosity. He was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, and earned a Ph.D. from New York University in theater history, directing, acting theory and practice.

Gordon taught acting from the late 1970s to early ‘80s at the Lee Strasberg Institute of Acting, and then at the Michael Chekhov Studio in New York City. He became an assistant professor and then a tenured associate professor at NYU before coming to Berkeley in 1990.

Early in his career, Gordon established himself as a world expert in Stanislavsky and acting theory with his book “The Stanislavsky Method” (1988) and his essay “Nine Misconceptions about Stanislavsky and his Method.” He also worked extensively on the techniques of Vsevolod Meyerhold, and co-authored a book called “Meyerhold, Eisenstein, and Biomechanics” (1996). He continued to lecture and write extensively on these topics, building on his distinctive and rare array of knowledge concerning Russian and East European theater, movies and actor training of the early 20th century.

At an event honoring Gordon’s retirement in 2015, Berkeley colleague Mark Griffith, recalled, “Mel seems to have been everywhere where anything theatrical ever happened; and to have spoken directly to almost everyone who ever did anything interesting in the theater.”

Similarly, Margaret Fisher, a former Ph.D. student of Gordon’s, recalled his resourcefulness and dedication, his inspiration and friendship: “The future of theater, as Mel knew, requires that we confront its feverish distortions, sensuality, tension, violence, and thrills—then, and now. As intellectual, teacher, actor, and director, Mel kept all four engines going at full throttle.”

Gordon is survived by his brother, Norman Gordon of Prescott, Ariz. A memorial service is being planned. 

 

TDPS presents the Dream of Kitamura, written and directed by Philip Kan Gotanda, April 20-29, 2018

Berkeley, CA – March 2018 – This April 20-29, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents the Dream of Kitamura – a mythic, ghostly tale based on a haunting image that appeared to esteemed playwright and TDPS Professor Philip Kan Gotanda in a dream. Gotanda will direct this darkly evocative and movement-driven play in collaboration with award-winning choreographer Katie Faulkner. The show opens Friday, April 20, 2018 and continues through Sunday, April 29, 2018 in the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $13 – $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/dream/ or at the door.

The Dream of Kitamura is a mystery-shrouded hallucination that begins when Lord Rosanjin dreams that the demon Kitamura is coming to kill him. His horror is so profound that he hires two bodyguards to defend him against his own delusion. But are they who they appear to be? And what of the icy, repressed Lady Zuma, and his petulant daughter Otsu? Something rots in the House of Rosanjin as great love kills great love.

One of America’s leading playwrights, Philip Kan Gotanda is best known for plays that focus on the Asian American experience, such as The Wash, The Ballad of Yachiyo and Yankee Dawg You Die. This particular play stemmed, not from his own life experiences, but from a dream: “I dreamt the central image,” he explains, “and that dream was very potent. The image was my father as an aging lord, in an ornate, gothic throne. I was to his left, and a composite of my brothers was to his right. My father was pointing into the darkness, crying ‘KITAMURA. KITAMURA.’ We pulled out our swords to protect him. I woke up and my sense was that my father was dreaming of death coming for him. Out of this, I built a murder mystery—a feverish, dream play.”  While writing the play, Gotanda sought to trust his source, the dream, by allowing his unconscious to drive the process. When images surfaced, he accepted the ideas without judgement and explored how they might form themselves onstage.  

Gotanda notes that when he wrote the Dream of Kitamura in 1981, “I was a young artist, I was a young Asian American artist, still inventing a theatrical sense of what that would mean for the stage.”  The dream, the unconscious fused with the conscious struggle to find home in America, provided a reservoir of source material: Butoh, The Three Stooges, martial arts movies, Japanese fashion mash-up, Spaghetti Westerns and Gagaku ceremonial Japanese court music.

Fittingly, and perhaps inevitably, the Dream of Kitamura has a non-linear structure, with a narrative that is presented through both text and ritualized movement. In TDPS’s production, Katie Faulkner’s choreography is integral to the story telling. “I’ve always been intrigued by Katie’s pieces at TDPS, letting her know how much I’ve enjoyed them,” says Gotanda. “Now we’re working closely together on Kitamura, which has a highly visual movement vocabulary. The moving pictures without text are just as important as the text-driven scenes, telling a story that is immersive and inhabiting a dreamscape.”

An early work by Gotanda, the Dream of Kitamura is more experimental than most of his canon, and had its first production at San Francisco’s Asian American Theater Company in 1981, directed by David Henry Hwang. It pushed the boundaries of what defined Asian American theater, as realism held sway as the correct form of telling “community” stories. The play was further developed at East West Players, directed by Mako, followed by a collaboration at New York’s Theater of the Open Eye with Joseph Campbell, Isamu Noguchi, and Jean Erdman, which toured it around the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast.   

Gotanda is excited to be revisiting the Dream of Kitamura again after many years away from the play. For the TDPS production, he is working with a culturally and racially diverse student cast – Korean, Native, Black-South Asian, Irish, Latinx, White, Guatemalan, Filipino, Costa Rican – a change from previous productions where the cast was exclusively Asian. Gotanda sees this production as a strong learning opportunity for the mixed group of actors—and for himself. “Although it is the same script, my approach now is different,” Gotanda shares. “How I engage the world now is quite different. How I think about American Theater is different, in particular as seen through the practice of teaching at the University. the Dream of Kitamura at TDPS is a new play.”

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Production Details
The Dream of Kitamura opens Friday, April 20, 2018 and continues through Sunday, April 29, 2018 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online in advance and $15 at the door; General admission tickets are $18 online in advance and $20 at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/dream/ or at the door.

The Dream of Kitamura is written and directed by Philip Kan Gotanda, in collaboration with choreographer Katie Faulkner; costume design by Christine Crook under the direction of Wendy Sparks-Rehl; and lighting design by Jack Carpenter. The cast includes: Melissa Chapman, Erica Chung, Katia Coate, Amainary Contreras, John Hildenbrand, Eleanor O’Malley, Ivan Oyarzabal, Julie Pagaduan, Paris Shockley, and Drew Woodson.

About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Philip Kan Gotanda
Over the last three decades, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has been a major influence in the broadening of our definition of theater in America. Through his plays and advocacy, he has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theater as well as to Europe and Asia. Mr. Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto. Mr. Gotanda is a respected independent filmmaker; his film Life Tastes Good was presented at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Gotanda, alongside Michael Sasaki, had a chinglish version of “My Boyfriend’s Back,” with Joan Chen singing lead, on the Hong Kong pop charts before it was banned. Mr. Gotanda is the recipient of a Guggenheim as well as other honors and awards. He resides at Gotanda Art Plant in the Berkeley Hills with his writer-producer wife, Diane Takei, and their famously ill-behaved dog, Toulouse.

About Katie Faulkner
Katie Faulkner is a dancer, choreographer, teaching artist, and founder of little seismic dance company. Since receiving her MFA in Dance from Mills College in 2002, she has performed the works of Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio, Randee Paufve, Victoria Marks, Susan Rethorst, Alex Ketley and Ann Carlson. She has worked with several of these choreographers as a dancer with AXIS Dance Company, with whom she performed both locally and nationally from 2003-2007. She has been an active educator around the country and is currently on faculty at the University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and ODC.

Since founding little seismic, Faulkner has received support in the form of numerous commissions, residencies, and awards. She was an artist-in-residence at ODC Theater from 2009-2011 and has also been in residence at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Rauschenberg Residency, and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. She has received several Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and nominations, the top prize for her work in the Joyce Theater A.W.A.R.D. Show!/San Francisco competition, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE Award for dance. In 2015, she received her certification in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis from the Integrated Movement Studies program. She was recently invited to be a 2017-2018 Truth Fellow with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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For Calendar Editors

the Dream of Kitamura
Lord Rosanjin dreams that the ferocious demon Kitamura is coming to kill him in this mythic, ghostly tale based on a haunting dream that acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda translated to the stage. This darkly evocative and movement-driven play is directed by Gotanda in collaboration with choreographer Katie Faulkner.

April 20 -29, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.

TDPS presents All in the Timing, an evening of short comedies by David Ives, March 15-18, 2018

Berkeley, CA – February 2018 – UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents All in the Timing: Short Comedies by David Ives this March – an evening of four one-act comedies drawn from the collection of award-winning playwright David Ives, and directed, designed and performed by TDPS students. Ives’s witty, surreal style of comedy is both hilarious and philosophical, and will leave audiences laughing long after they leave the theater. The show opens Thursday, March 15, 2018 and continues through Sunday, March 18, 2018 in the Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $10 – $15 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/all-in-the-timing-short-plays-by-david-ives/ or at the door.

Four short comedies compose the evening of one-act plays: Time Flies, directed by Angelina Steshenko; English Made Simple, directed by Ceylan Ersoy; The Universal Language, directed by Tanvi Agrawal; and Sure Thing​, directed by Carmel Suchard. All four pieces explore a unique take on the absurdity of being alive and the possibilities of human connection.

Ives’s clever style of humor is decidedly intellectual, mixing quick-witted wordplay, poetic conception, and outlandish surrealism. TDPS Associate Professor Peter Glazer, who is mentoring the student directors, says: “David Ives presents a demanding language style. The directors are learning to connect with his unconventional sense of humor and make it accessible to an audience—to bring his offbeat conceit to life.”

Time Flies, directed by Angelina Steshenko, follows two mayflies on their first date. They are interrupted by Sir David Attenborough, who informs them that their lives only last 24 hours. A one-night stand quickly turns into a mid-life crisis, as the brokenhearted bugs try to find a solution. “My hope for the audience, ” says Steshenko, “is that they’ll think about how lucky we are as humans to get more than one day to live and we shouldn’t waste any of those days.”  

In English Made Simple, Jack and Jill meet at a party and proceed through a series of revealing relationship vignettes—punctuated by a solemn narrator who offers grammatical insight into what each person is really thinking as they speak. Director Ceylan Ersoy says, “The first time I read this one-act, it was as if I were reading dialogues I’ve had in my own life – a brutal revelation of what actually goes on in a daily human interaction. The stage reflects the truths that we avoid, and the reason it’s so funny is because we see ourself in the characters.”

The Universal Language follows a shy woman with a stutter as she places her faith in a language tutor who promises to teach her the (made-up) universal language “Unamunda.” Almost entirely scripted in absurd gibberish, this one-act is gleefully silly and strangely profound as the two discover a true connection. “My goal,” says Director Tanvi Agrawal, “ is that audiences will walk away thinking about the many nuances and complexities that hide below the surface of ‘normal’ human behavior. I want them to be perplexed at how it’s possible to communicate a story without conventional language.”

Sure Thing cheekily explores the many possibilities of conversation. Would-be couple Bill and Betty meet at a coffee shop and attempt to connect, continually stumbling or winding up in a dead-end. But every time they blunder, a merciful bell resets the conversation, resulting in a second, third, or even fourth chance to make a good impression. The beautiful message within each of the four David Ives plays brings forward a little quirk about human relationships,” says director Carmel Suchard. “I think audiences will leave with a smile on their face.”

All in the Timing: Short Comedies by David Ives opens Thursday, March 15, 2018 and continues through Sunday, March 18, 2018 in the Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $10 – $15 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/all-in-the-timing-short-plays-by-david-ives/ or at the door.

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Production Details
All in the Timing: Short Comedies by David Ives opens Thursday, March 15, 2018 and continues through Sunday, March 18, 2018 at Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Matinee performances are Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $10 online in advance and $15 at the door; General admission tickets are $15 online in advance and at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/all-in-the-timing-short-plays-by-david-ives/ or at the door.

All in the Timing: Short Comedies by David Ives is directed by TDPS students Angelina Steshenko, Ceylan Ersoy, Tanvi Agrawal, and Carmel Suchard; with costume design by Michelle Lubimov, Patricia Midy, and Natalea Schager, overseen by Annie Smart and Wendy Sparks-Rehl; and lighting design by TDPS students Brittany Foley, Brennan Martin, and Alex White, overseen by instructor Jack Carpenter. The cast includes: Danielle Altizio, Hailey Buck, Zane Martin, Christina Nguyen, Julia Reilly, Tori Ross, Julian Schwartzman, Noah Weinstein, Patrick Yorkgitis.

About the Supervising Director
Peter Glazer, TDPS Associate Professor, is mentoring the student directors for All in the Timing: Short Comedies by David Ives. Glazer holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. He is a professional director and playwright whose plays, adaptations, collaborations and directing projects include Woody Guthrie’s American Song (Bay Area Drama Critics award, with Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations Off-Broadway and Joseph Jefferson Award winner in Chicago), O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music (Delaware Theater Co.), Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate (Marin Theater Co., Victory Gardens Theater), Measure for Measure, Seven Lears, Murder of Crows, and Marisol (UC Berkeley), Heart of Spain and Foe (UC Berkeley and Northwestern University).  He is presently co-writing a musical based on The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, by Berkeley storyteller Joel ben Izzy, and co-writing a new play with Celtic harp virtuoso and storyteller Patrick Ball, Come Dance With Me In Ireland: A Pilgrimage to Yeats Country. He is also adapting Karen Shepard’s historical novel The Celestials for the stage. He is a longtime member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and sits on the board of the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley.

About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

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For Calendar Editors

ALL IN THE TIMING: SHORT COMEDIES BY DAVID IVES 
An evening of four one-act comedies drawn from the collection of award-winning playwright David Ives, and directed, designed and performed by TDPS students.
March 15-18, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Thurs-Sat 8 PM, matinee performances Sat-Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $10-$15.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

 

UC Berkeley presents “Berkeley Dance Project 2018”, using movement and multimedia to explore human physical and psychological journeys, February 15-24, 2018 

Berkeley, CA – January 2018 – UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Berkeley Dance Project 2018 (BDP) this February, featuring works by professional Bay Area choreographers Katie Faulkner and James Graham, as well as by TDPS student choreographers Madeline Aragon and Hillary Tang, performed by student dancers. Faulkner uses projection mapping (images displayed onto dancers’ bodies) to explore the experiences of an all-female cast related to the physical stages of womanhood, while Graham’s new work questions our experiences with gender, sexuality, and identity – how we see ourselves, and how we are seen in the world.

Berkeley Dance Project 2018 opens Thursday, February 15, 2018 and continues through Saturday, February 24, 2018 in the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. (Please note that BDP has historically taken place in April, but will instead be presented in February.) Tickets are $13 – $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/berkeley-dance-project-2018/ or at the door.

Katie Faulkner, TDPS Lecturer and award-winning founder of little seismic dance company, has created a multimedia piece for Berkeley Dance Project 2018 that examines the physical changes that women undergo as they progress through puberty, childbearing, aging, and illness, with a specific focus on the power that women possess in their ability to reproduce. On the heels of a year of female action and activism (2017’s Women’s March on Washington, and the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements), Faulkner’s piece, performed by an all-female cast, gives voice to the physical experience of being a woman in the world, and is aligned with the thousands of women worldwide who are creating transformative social change, specifically in regard to their own bodies. Katie explains, “There’s an anxiety and an urgency that comes from the tension between this glorious, magical ability that a woman has to recreate other human beings, and the enveloping, patriarchal, politicized context that is trying so hard to strip women of their abilities to make their own determinations about this act. It’s personal, sensuous, and very erotic in some ways – but also quite angry.”

Berkeley Dance Project 2018 also features the work of choreographer and TDPS alumnus James Graham, artistic director of the San Francisco-based James Graham Dance Theatre. Through ritual, play, and improvisation, Graham’s piece deepens his ongoing examination of gender identity, self-understanding, and how we present ourselves to others. Through the lens of these young dancers, he explores the balance of tenderness and power within relationships, set in the context of a changing culture. James questions, “In comparison to when I was a student, how do these diverse young people experience their comfort level in their own gender identity and sexuality? It’s inspiring to delve into their stories.”

Original student choreography is also featured in Berkeley Dance Project 2018. Works by TDPS students Madeline Aragon and Hillary Tang will be restaged on a larger scale, after premiering in December as part of TDPS’s Fall Choreography Showcase. Aragon’s duet, A Different Language, conveys the challenge of clear communication between two people, and the resulting impact on relationships between friends, lovers, or family members. The solo that Hillary Tang choreographed, Peel, exposes her personal process of acknowledging a toxic relationship, removing herself from the abuse, and ultimately finding internal peace and clarity.   

Production Details

Berkeley Dance Project opens Thursday, February 15, 2018 and continues through Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturdayat 8pm. Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online in advance and $15 at the door; General admission tickets are $18 online in advance and $20 at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/berkeley-dance-project-2018/ or at the door.

Berkeley Dance Project features choreography by Katie Faulkner, James Graham, Madeline Aragon and Hillary Tang; costume design by Wendy Sparks-Rehl; and lighting design by Jack Carpenter. The cast includes: Madeline Aragon, Louisa Belian, Michael Curtis, Saabirah Faatimah, Bruna Gill, Andrew Hindrickson, Rosalind Hsu, Stella Ji, Kyra Katagi, Mi Le, Katie O’Conner, Melissa Sherman-Bennett, Hillary Tang, and Victoria Marie Yeh.

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About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Katie Faulkner
Katie Faulkner is a dancer, choreographer, teaching artist, and founder of little seismic dance company. Since receiving her MFA in Dance from Mills College in 2002, she has performed the works of Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio, Randee Paufve, Victoria Marks, Susan Rethorst, Alex Ketley and Ann Carlson. She has worked with several of these choreographers as a dancer with AXIS Dance Company, with whom she performed both locally and nationally from 2003-2007. She has been an active educator around the country and is currently on faculty at the University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and ODC.

Since founding little seismic, Faulkner has received support in the form of numerous commissions, residencies, and awards. She was an artist-in-residence at ODC Theater from 2009-2011 and has also been in residence at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Rauschenberg Residency, and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. She has received several Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and nominations, the top prize for her work in the Joyce Theater A.W.A.R.D. Show!/San Francisco competition, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE Award for dance. In 2015, she received her certification in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis from the Integrated Movement Studies program. She was recently invited to be a 2017-2018 Truth Fellow with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

About James Graham
James Graham is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He presents his choreographic work through his company James Graham Dance Theatre, while also curating the work of others, namely in Dance Lovers, his annual Valentine’s show of duets. Graham is currently on faculty at UC Berkeley, the Dominican University/LINES Ballet B.F.A. Program, and at the SF Conservatory of Dance where he teaches GAGA People classes. Graham was chosen by Ohad Naharin (Batsheva Dance Company) to be a Certified Gaga Instructor and to take part in his pilot training program of international Gaga teachers. He has taught extensively on the West Coast, the Midwest, as well as Canada, South Korea, and Israel. Graham holds an M.F.A. in Dance from The Ohio State University and a B.A. in Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley. He is currently a company member of the Joe Goode Performance Group and Lisa Wymore & Sheldon Smith’s / Disappearing Acts.

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For Calendar Editors

BERKELEY DANCE PROJECT 2018
New works by Bay Area choreographers Katie Faulkner, James Graham, and students Madeline Aragon and Hillary Tang
February 15-24, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Thurs-Sat 8 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.

Will you support TDPS with a tax-deductible end-of-year gift?

A note about end of year giving: 
Thank you for considering TDPS for a tax-deductible yearend gift. Please see below for information about how to give online or by check. Checks postmarked in 2017 and received by January 5, 2018 will be credited to 2017. If you have any questions about a yearend gift, please contact Department Manager Sandy Richmond at sandyjbr@berkeley.edu or her office line at 510-642-9755. As the TDPS office will be closed from noon on December 22-January 1, email will yield a faster response. 

 
Support1

From the Chair:

We are living in a divisive time. Every day there is some new example of communication breaking down. During such a time, it is tempting to only seek out voices that affirm our own sense of the world. Here in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, we challenge ourselves to see things differently.

Theater, dance, and performance have a unique power at this time. Through the performing arts, we find common ground from which to better understand ourselves and others. We allow diverse voices to be heard and witnessed. We build a community that collaboratively responds to a changing world.  

At TDPS, we are not only training the next generation of artists, designers, and scholars, but also shaping a generation of empathetic, engaged citizens who understand the value of arts in society. We have an important role to play.

TDPS tackles challenges with positive action. When the merit of the arts is questioned, we affirm the power of performance to create profound social impact. As our facilities reveal their age and limitations, we are engaged in a master planning process in collaboration with campus leaders. Since UC Berkeley departments are increasingly asked to shoulder larger financial responsibilities, we are expanding our course offerings to generate additional income streams that support our mission and our students. We currently serve more than 5,000 students annually, and this number is growing as we increase our summer and online offerings.

We have set a course that continues our current level of excellence and builds for our future, and we want you at our side. Will you join us by supporting TDPS today with a gift that is meaningful to you?

Any amount, from $50 to $5,000, will help us continue our forward momentum and enable us to provide scholarships, support the distinguished faculty and diverse visiting artists that engage our students, produce a wide variety of productions that offer students unparalleled hand-on learning, and much more.

Together, our collective efforts make TDPS a home where students become inspired, creative, and collaborative arts innovators and human beings.

Thank you for your generous support.
Warmly,
Lisa Wymore, Chair 

HOW TO MAKE A GIFT 

MAKE A GIFT ONLINE:
Click here to make a gift to TDPS

MAKE A GIFT BY MAIL:
Make checks payable to UC Berkeley Foundation 
Mail to:
TDPS Annual Fund
Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
University of California, Berkeley
15 Dwinelle
Berkeley, CA 94720-2560

WAYS TO SUPPORT 

There are a variety of ways to support the work of TDPS. Every gift, no matter the size, is valuable and appreciated.

  • Annual FundProviding yearly support to our operating budget through the generous donations of supporters of TDPS, the Annual Fund supports artist residencies, visiting scholars, special workshops/lectures, and professional development coaching for students. The Annual Fund also helps support the smaller class sizes necessary to develop artistic and expressive skills in young artists and thinkers.
  • David Wood EndowmentThe David Wood Endowment provides a base of support for TDPS  in perpetuity. Income generated from the fund helps to underwrite dance program expenses above and beyond the annual dance budget.The endowment was established to honor David Wood and the dedication with which he and Marni Thomas Wood worked to establish the dance program here at UC Berkeley.
  • In-kind Kindness – As we host receptions, donor gatherings, student celebrations and holiday parties throughout the year, we are always grateful for “in-kind” donations of food, drink, or party-hosting.
  • Planned Gifts – By making a gift in your will or estate plans, you can show your support and appreciation for TDPS’s mission, while accommodating your personal and philanthropic goals. If you are interested in making a planned gift, please contact the Office of Gift Planning at 510-642-6300 or ogp@berkeley.edu.

Playwright Dipika Guha on “Mechanics of Love,” and the Relationship Between Love and Logic

TDPS: How would you describe Mechanics of Love?

DG: It’s a bit like a carousel. [Laughs.] Four people with differing points of view find themselves on this love carousel, and they have to negotiate being on the ride and also being with each other on that ride. Today, that’s how I’m thinking about it!

TDPS: What inspired you to write this play?

DG: All of my plays come out of a confluence of interests and things that I was thinking about at the time.

With this particular play, I had just come out of a long-term collaboration with scientists who were engaged in the incredible difficult task of quantifying gender bias — something that is felt, but is so nebulous and hard to quantify.

So they were looking for ways to quantify it, and I was responding to their research and writing scenes that were hopefully doing more than illustrating what was happening — trying to get to the unspoken nature of what it is like to both experience and have bias, and how it is contained in the atmosphere. Like, there has been research on how, when you walk into a place like a lab, even interior design cues can lead women to feel that they don’t belong there. Or the lab coats don’t fit. All the small things.

So I had come out of that experience and was thinking about what happens when you try to quantify something that is unquantifiable. Where does it stretch our logic, where does logic fail, where does logic uplift? And I landed on the nature of love.

Using our primary sense of logic which seeks to add things up and draw a line between cause and effect, what happens when you try to make sense of love, something that seems to happen arbitrarily and is resistant to logic? That’s kind of the throughline of this play.

TDPS: Can you speak more about the relationship between logic and love?

DG: In the play, I’m exploring what happens when two types of logic butt heads: linear logic and intuitive logic.

It’s clearest with George, the mechanic, who has used one type of logic his whole life. When you put two pieces together, the result is always the same. So what happens when you throw a wrench in the mix, whether that’s a human being or a cat — something that does nothing predictable. What do you do? It’s at that point in the play that the carousel is spinning.
In the play, the act of love, the sudden giving way to someone or something, is unpredictable, yet seems to have it’s own internal logic that seems to have nothing to do with one’s environment and what’s occurring around them. So to have all these characters discover that moment was interesting for me to explore. What does it mean to be spinning on the carousel, and can you escape the carousel or rise above it? What kind of love transcends being on the carousel?

TDPS: Where were you when you wrote this play?

DG: I was in Alaska, teaching a class at Perserverance Theater on playwriting.

I was planning to have my students do this experiment where they picked out elements — such as a profession, an emotional state, and a place of origin — from a hat. I had never done the exercise before so I thought I would do it myself first, as a test to see if it worked. I usually have other people do it for each other; they all write these suggestions down and pass the papers around. But I did it for myself. The words were Ballerina, Russian and Silly, I think, and that was the start. I wrote the first 10 or 15 pages there.

I’ve used that exercise since then because it’s fun and it liberates people and makes them write about things they aren’t familiar with. What happens when you pull someone from a country you don’t know about? I’m very intrigued by the voices that emerge. And it takes some of the pressure off of you since you didn’t choose those elements.

TDPS: Congratulations on recently getting hired as a writer for the TV show “American Gods.” How have you found that writing for tv is different than writing for theater?

DG: Thank you! It’s been a whirlwind. I usually live 10 minutes away from Berkeley, and I had just three days to decide to take this job in LA! I’m just beginning to understand what the process here is. The mechanics of both processes are very different. In theater, it’s a lot of being on your own with a blank page, and it’s only your own instincts that guide you to a play. In TV, you are in a writers’ room and we are all involved in days, sometimes weeks, of brainstorming an episode. It’s kind of what I imagine a think tank is like. We’re all engaged in trying to make the best thing possible. The greatest difference is that in television, the collaboration seems to come at the beginning, and in theater, the collaboration comes at the end.

But the difficulty of raising something from the ground, the difficulty of dealing with the blank page is still somewhat the same. And the feeling of impossibility of that task! Finding and translating raw inspiration, and trusting that you can be loyal to that, and be faithful to the things you know are true — that process is just as difficult whether you are by yourself or in a room with 9 people.

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Dipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is a Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University for the year 2017-2018 and was the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Award with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook. Most recently her work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Roundabout Underground, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Residency, New Georges, Shotgun Players, the Sam French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Southern Rep, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Magic Theatre amongst others. She was recently a visiting artist at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, is a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco and a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. MFA: Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel. Dipika is currently writing on American Gods, the series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel for Starz.  

UC Berkeley presents “Mechanics of Love,” a playful, poetic new comedy by Dipika Guha

Berkeley, CA – October 2017 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) continues its 2017-18 season with Mechanics of Love, a wryly poetic and playful comedy that questions the laws governing who and how we love, and the cost of making sense of it all. Written by rising playwright Dipika Guha, this fast-paced four-person production will be presented in an intimate in-the-round configuration on the Zellerbach Playhouse stage on the UC Berkeley campus. Directed by Christine Nicholson, Mechanics of Love runs November 16-19. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (tdps.berkeley.edu/events/mechanics-of-love/) or at the door.

 Sometimes, the business of beginning a new world involves forgetting the old one. But when you forget your wife to marry a ballerina with an artificial spine…and the ballerina forgets you to marry your fashionable wife…and then they both fall in love with the mechanic…suddenly, the ordinary rules of love are impossible to follow. Dipika Guha’s imaginative Mechanics of Love investigates the tension between love and memory, logic and emotion, humor and heartbreak as characters fall in love — with others and themselves — over and over again.

“I think the show reveals how exhilarating and terrifying it is to find and fall in love,” says director Christine Nicholson, as well as “how difficult it is to maintain a relationship, how hard it is to juggle ‘having it all’ at the same time that you are trying to discover what “it all” actually is, and, after making that discovery, what it means to let “it” go, whether that be from desire or necessity.” Nicholson is excited to work with a relatively new play by a local playwright (Dipika Guha’s first Bay Area production was the world premiere of Mechanics of Love at Crowded Fire Theater in spring 2016) and is delving into the play’s sly silliness to find how “humour drives us in our search for love, understanding, meaning, and longevity of relationships.”

Production Details

Mechanics of Love opens Thursday, November 16 and continues through Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/mechanics-of-love/ or at the door.

Mechanics of Love features choreography by Chloe Chan, scenic and costume design by Annie Smart, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Emily Fassler. The cast includes: Jade Moujaes, Ciclady Rodriguez, Baela Tinsley, and Marcus van Duren.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Dipika Guha

Dipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is a Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University for the year 2017-2018 and was the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Award with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook. Her plays include Yoga Play (South Coast Repertory Theatre, KILROYS LIST ’17),  The Rules (SF Playhouse), The Art of Gaman (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor ’16, KILROYS LIST ’16, Relentless Award Semi-Finalist), I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival, Southern Rep New Play Festival), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Two by For, NYC) and Blown Youth (published by Playscripts). Most recently her work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Roundabout Underground, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Residency, New Georges, Shotgun Players, the Sam French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Southern Rep, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Magic Theatre amongst others. Dipika has been the recipient of several residencies and fellowships including the Djerassi Residency Program, the Hermitage Retreat, Ucross, SPACE at Ryder Farm and a Dramatists Guild Fellowship. She is an alumnus of Ars Nova Playgroup, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Women’s Project Lab and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. She was recently a visiting artist at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, is a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco and a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. MFA: Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel.

Dipika is currently writing on American Gods, the series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel for Starz.

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For Calendar Editors

MECHANICS OF LOVE by Dipika Guha
Directed by Christine Nicholson
November 16-19, 2017
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA

Performances: Thurs-Sat 8 PM; Sat-Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.

Take TDPS’s Social Media Survey and Enter to Win a $25 Amazon Giftcard

TDPS wants to hear your thoughts about social media. Take our Social Media Survey and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! This survey is designed to help us expand the reach of our social media accounts and make sure we’re engaging in ways that you would like to see. By taking it, you’ll help us better showcase the amazing work of our department, students, alumni, and faculty.

Click the link below to take the survey and be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card:

CLICK TO TAKE THE TDPS SOCIAL MEDIA SURVEY

But wait, there are two more ways to win!

  1. Visit TDPS’s new Instagram account and like this post PLUS follow our Instagram page (must do both!)
  2. Visit TDPS’s Facebook page and look for the post about the social media (photo of a parachuter) PLUS like our Facebook page (must do both!)

 

Rules:

All participants who complete the survey or like us on Facebook/Instagram by noon on September 29 will be entered to win. The winner of the survey prize will be notified by email; the winner of the Instagram account will be notified by direct message; the winner of the Facebook account will be notified by direct message. You can enter all three ways to increase your odds of winning, but you can only win once.

On TDPS’S 2017-18 Playhouse + Studio Productions

Peter Glazer + Philip Kan Gotanda, TDPS Production Committee Co-Chairs

TDPS’s 2017-2018 season celebrates provocative theatricality, rich language, and unconventional storytelling. The Playhouse and Studio productions this year are works inspired by dreams, myths, and the elusive natures of love and humanity. Works that approach the theatrical idiom with energy and innovation. Works that open themselves to stylistic innovation, humor, and flights of fancy. Works that allow for a breadth of diversity and inclusion in casting. Works that will provide an expansive palette for our actors, designers, and technicians. These are works with big visions and big ideas.  

In October, you will see Metamorphoses, by renowned playwright-director auteur Mary Zimmerman. This adaptation of Ovid’s classic myths, directed by TDPS’s own Christopher Herold (who has been interested in directing this piece for years), is an ensemble piece that features a large cast. The show’s emphasis on water will allow our designers and production crew to showcase their craft in unique and exciting ways. Metamorphoses promises to be a visually stylish, inventively staged, and most entertaining production. It will be presented in the Playhouse.

Next comes Mechanics of Love by the exciting Berkeley playwright Dipika Guha, one of America’s most promising young playwrights, and a graduate of Brown and the Yale School of Drama. Mechanics of Love, directed by long-time TDPS associate Christine Nicholson, takes a playfully incisive look at the ephemeral couplings and uncouplings of love. Written for a quartet of actors, all the roles are integral and fully realized. This is a Studio Production to be presented in the Playhouse.

In the spring, TDPS presents Berkeley Dance Project 2018. Note that instead of being performed in its usual April spot, this year BDP takes place in February. The work will be created during the fall semester, and features new works by award-winning Bay Area choreographers James Graham (also a TDPS alum) and Katie Faulkner, who directs the concert. Graham’s collaborative piece explores gender identity, self-understanding, and how we present ourselves in the world, while Katie Faulkner’s multimedia dance work builds imaginative connections between stories of metamorphosis, surreality, and the supernatural. This is a Playhouse Production. 

TDPS then presents a Studio Production of David Ives one-acts directed by undergraduates and supervised by director Peter Glazer. Ives is a recognized genius of short, sharp, smart plays, and this show, titled All in the Timingincludes pieces from his collections All in the Timing, and Time Flies. Undergraduates have the opportunity to direct work, with full production support, in this festival format presented in Zellerbach Room 7, and the format also allows for a number of actors to participate with a lesser time commitment than many of our productions require.

In April, Philip Kan Gotanda will direct his visually evocative and movement-driven The Dream of Kitamurain collaboration with choreographer Katie Faulkner. This play is an early work from Gotanda’s more experimental canon, with the plot built around a central image that Gotanda dreamt. Early collaborators were David Henry Hwang, and Jean Erdman and Joseph Campbell with their Theater Of The Open Eye. The narrative is presented through text and movement, and Faulkner’s work will be integral to the story telling. This is a Playhouse production.

See our 2017/2018 Season Announcement. 

UC Berkeley Brings Ovid’s Myths to Magical Life in Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses”

Berkeley, CA – October 2017 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) opens its 2017-18 season with Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, a visually stunning rendering of Ovid’s mythical tales. Directed by TDPS lecturer and alumnus Christopher Herold, this poetic, modernized adaptation runs October 13-22 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (tdps.berkeley.edu/events/metamorphoses/) or at the door.

In Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award nominated play, Metamorphoses, the classical tales of Ovid come to magical life in all their playful, passionate, savage, elemental glory. In a visually fantastic world—set in and around a pool of water—the human and the divine collide, and such familiar figures as Poseidon, King Midas and Eurydice share universal stories of love, hope, death, betrayal and transformation. Beneath clouds and rainfall, mythological characters dip in and out of the onstage pool, where the waters hold both serenity and danger.

Metamorphoses premiered at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company in 1997 and received its West Coast Premiere in 1999 right here on the Zellerbach Playhouse Stage (though presented by Berkeley Repertory Theater, not TDPS). Due to its striking design conceptthe script calls for a large pool of waterand its timeless themes of love and loss, Metamorphoses quickly become an iconic work. Over the years, TDPS has repeatedly considered producing the show, but struggled with the logistics and expense of the water element. But now, 18 years later, all the elements have aligned to bring Metamorphoses back to the Playhouse stage.

Director Christopher Herold is intrigued by Metamorphoses’ unique and exciting design challenges: “It’s fascinating how many coordination issues that this production’s emphasis on water presents.” The set, by award-winning scenic designer Nina Ball, features a custom-built pool with more with 2,000 gallons of water, as well as innovative rain features and an elaborate cloud structure. Realizing this design involves numerous complex considerations, from treating the water to prevent algae buildup, to warming the water for actors’ safety and comfort, to factoring water into fabric selection for the more than 100 costumes in the show.  

The phenomenal design will certainly captivate the audience, but the heart of the production lies in the text. “I love the play’s classical genesis,” says Herold. “Ovid’s stories stand the test of time and still have relevance and meaning to us.” In this fantastic world Metamorphoses explores the central concerns of the human heart, skillfully combining comedy and tragedy to present a full portrait of the human experience. Christopher Herold hopes this transformational play will embed itself in the audience. “I want the audience to have an internal experience that shifts their interior landscape,” says Herold. “Ultimately, I hope they have an illuminating, moving evening at the theater.”

Production Details

Metamorphoses opens Friday, October 13 and continues through Sunday, October 22, 2017 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/polaroid-stories or at the door.

Metamorphoses features scenic design by Nina Ball, costume design by Wendy Sparks, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Ian D. Thomas.

The cast includes: Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Joe Ayers, Peyton Bradley, Theodore Foley, Samira Mariama Hamid, Narges Khalehoghli, Farryl Lawson, Tri Le, Zac Nachbar-Seckel, Ivan Oyarzabal, Alexander Espinosa Pieb, Claire Pearson, Verity Pinter, Shauna Satnick, Stephanie Toussaint.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Christopher Herold

Mr. Herold teaches acting and directing for TDPS. His directing credits at Berkeley include productions of Our Town, Sauce For the Goose, Suburban Motel, Three Sisters, Escape From Happiness, Orestes, Pterodactyls, Good, Noises Off, The Crucible, Funeral Games, Infancy, How I Got That Story, The Ruling Class, and Summertime.  He is also a member of the faculty at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he serves as the Director of the Summer Training Congress.  At ACT, he has directed studio productions of Fuddy Meers, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, The Kentucky Cycle Part I, Galileo, and Escape From Happiness.  Mr. Herold has also taught at Stanford and The Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre.  The former Artistic Director and a founding member of Jawbone Theater Ensemble, his work with that company includes direction of the San Francisco premiere of Manfred Karge’s Conquest of the South Pole and Samuel Beckett’s Play for the Bay Area Intimate Theater Festival.  Other directing credits include the San Francisco premiere of Tick, Tick . . . Boom for Theatre Rhinoceros and the critically acclaimed Achilles and Patroclus for Central Works.  Locally, he has appeared in roles at Aurora Theatre, The Magic, Central Works, Theatre Rhinoceros, Shotgun Players, the Victoria Theater, and Yerba Buena Gardens.

Announcing TDPS’S 2017/2018 Season

Mark your calendar for next year’s shows! Tickets go on sale mid July. 

PLAYHOUSE & STUDIO PRODUCTIONS 

METAMORPHOSES
OCTOBER 13-22, 2017 
By Mary Zimmerman // Directed by Chris Herold 
Playhouse Production

Tales from Ovid come to magical life—in all their playful, passionate, savage, elemental glory—in Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. In this visually fantastic world where the human and the divine collide, such familiar figures as Poseidon, King Midas and Eurydice share universal stories of love, hope, loss, betrayal and transformation.

MECHANICS OF LOVE
NOVEMBER 16-19, 2017
By Dipika Guha // Directed by Christine Nicholson 
Studio Production 

A man who forgets everything falls in love with a ballerina who forgets nothing. Until, that is, she falls in love with him. And his wife. And the mechanic. Characters frolic through life in this pirouette of a play that questions how we love, who we choose, and the cost of making sense of it all.

BERKELEY DANCE PROJECT 2018 
FEBRUARY 15-24, 2018
Playhouse Production

Berkeley Dance Project 2018 features new choreography by Katie Faulkner and James Graham, as well as several TDPS students. James Graham’s collaborative piece explores gender identity, self-understanding, and how we present ourselves in the world, while Katie Faulkner’s multimedia dance work builds imaginative connections between stories of metamorphosis, surreality, and the supernatural.

ALL IN THE TIMING: SHORT COMEDIES BY DAVID IVES
MARCH 15-18, 2018
Directed by TDPS Students // Faculty Advisor – Peter Glazer 
Studio Production 

TDPS presents an evening of one act comedies drawn from the collections of award-winning playwright David Ives and directed by multiple TDPS students. Ives‘s offbeat sketches mix the witty and the wise-cracking, the surreal and the satiric, the poetic and the perplexing.

THE DREAM OF KITAMURA
APRIL 20-29, 2018
Written and Directed by Philip Kan Gotanda
Playhouse Production 

When Lord Rosanjin dreams the demon Kitamura is coming to kill him, his horror is so profound that he hires two bodyguards to defend him against his own hallucinations. But are they who they appear? And what of the icy, repressed Lady Zuma and his petulant daughter Otsu? Something rots in the House of Rosanjin. For this mythic fever dream, Gotanda—revisiting one of his early works—collaborates with choreographer Katie Faulkner to weave a high and low brow tale of how love kills love.

STUDENT  WORKSHOPS

RESTROOM FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY
SEPTEMBER 28-29, 2017
A student workshop by John Hildenbrand

Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Entirely true and unembellished, Restroom For Customers Only is an autoethnographic display of a 50-year-old man who has traveled the nation in search of a home and finally found one as a UC Berkeley student.

LITTLE RUSSIANS
NOVEMBER 1-2, 2017
A student workshop by Lana Cosic

In 19th century Little Russia, an elderly couple’s peaceful, predictable daily routine begins to unravel, revealing the fantastical dysfunctionality of their world. Inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s “Old World Landowners” and the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon, this original play examines how long-lasting relationships last and evolve, and the power of simple events to disrupt daily life’s cyclical patterns. 

QUEM EU? 
FEBRUARY 21-22, 2018
A student workshop by Livia Gomes Demarchi

Freedom of speech and cultural microaggressions collide when a South American exchange student realizes she is not living the “American dream” in small, rural El Dorado, Kansas. Through humor and critical self-analysis, Livia Gomes Demarchi relives her time as an exchange student in Bush’s America, exploring themes of patriotism and assimilation, and questioning if liberty and justice for all also applies to immigrants.

THE GREY AREA 
MARCH 21-22, 2018
A student workshop by Logan Moody

In a surreal landscape, two people—each running from and towards something—meet on a swing set, and everything changes. This multimedia performance piece incorporates movement, acting, gesture, music and film to ask hard questions about identity, race and belonging in today’s world.   

MONTHLY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR 

NEW PLAY READING SERIES 
September 13, October 18, November 8, 2017

The New Play Reading Series showcases work in development by exciting playwright, both new and established. In this free monthly series, a new piece is read by students and then there is an opportunity for conversation and feedback with the playwright. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE for April 27 events: BDP performance canceled & location change for Playwrights Showcase

Dear TDPS community, 

This coming Thursday, April 27, Ann Coulter plans to speak at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. This visit has received national media coverage, and the campus is bracing for protests. Due to the potential for violence, campus police has recommended that all campus events Thursday afternoon/evening be re-scheduled. 

To ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and patrons, TDPS leadership has made the decision to change our Thursday, April 27 evening presentations as follows:

• The Thursday performance of Berkeley Dance Project 2017 will be canceled. The TDPS box office will be contacting all ticketed patrons to either exchange their ticket to Friday or Saturday, or process a refund. 

• Playwrights Showcase will be moved from Zellerbach Room 7 to Hearst Field Annex – D23 Acting Studio for Thursday, April 27. Please note that the showcase presentation on Friday will remain in Zellerbach Room 7. 

• Our meet and greet of Directors and Choreographers will continue as planned in Durham Studio Theater. Attendees are encouraged to enter through the West entrance, as you would normally enter the theater. 

Students, faculty, and staff are otherwise encouraged to avoid Sproul Plaza and the Southern border of campus.

Any questions or concerns should be directed to TDPS Chair Lisa Wymore at lisawymore@berkeley.edu

“Berkeley Dance Project 2017” Explores Networks and Elements at Zellerbach Playhouse, April 20-29

Berkeley, CA – April 2017 – This month, UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents its final Playhouse Production of the season: Berkeley Dance Project 2017 (BDP), featuring works by guest choreographers Krista DeNio and James Graham, as well as TDPS student choreographers Angie Corley and José Nuñoz. BDP 2017, directed by SanSan Kwan and performed by student dancers, highlights the relationship between the human and natural worlds, exploring ways that the two transmit ideas, emotions, and energy. Berkeley Dance Project 2017 opens Thursday, April 20, 2017 and continues through Saturday, April 29, 2017 in the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $13-$20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at tdps.berkeley.edu/berkeley-dance-project-2017/ or at the door.

Inspired by the theme “Digging Deep,” Berkeley Dance Project 2017 offers a physical exploration of communication—between humans, within the natural world, and in the places where the two collide. The production reveals the deep layers of connection we have to each other and our world, and ultimately asks: What sustains us? What destroys us? What makes us feel connected while we are alive?

Guest choreographer Krista DeNio, artistic director of Moving Ground,debuts “Network,” a new piece of ensemble-devised dance theater inspired by systems of communication and confinement in the human and plant world. Drawing on research and interviews, “Network” brings forward the stories of formerly incarcerated individuals, exploring how imprisonment cut them off from life-sustaining systems and celebrating humans’ ability to survive systemic oppression and imprisonment through resistance and resilience.

Berkeley Dance Project 2017 also features the work of choreographer and TDPS alumnus James Graham, artistic director of the San Francisco-based James Graham Dance Company. Graham’s piece explores the established four elements—earth, air, water and fire—as well as an additional element, dubbed “marrow,” that is the essence of heart and humanity. Each element is connected with specific movements that explore their meaning on a symbolic and physical level. Graham’s piece incorporates structured movement, as well as improvisational movement, as he believes “It’s important to give students freedom as movers and dancers, so that they can grow, learn, and have an education within the process. I like to leave room for improvisation, which makes the piece come alive.”

Original student choreography is also featured in Berkeley Dance Project 2017. TDPS students José Antonio Nuño and Angie Corley’s works, “Basura!” and “BLahh!,” respectively, premiered last semester as part of TDPS’s Fall Choreography Showcase, and are being restaged on a larger scale for this production.

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Production Details

Berkeley Dance Project opens Thursday, April 20, 2017 and continues through Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online in advance and $15 at the door; General admission tickets are $18 online in advance and $20 at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/berkeley-dance-project-2017/ or at the door.

Berkeley Dance Project is directed by SanSan Kwan and features choreography by Krista DeNio and James Graham, scenic design by Justine Law, costume design by Wendy Sparks-Rehl, and lighting design by Jack Carpenter. The cast includes: Jeremy B, Catalina Biggerstaff, Zackery Brazina, Joshua Brooks, Amy Cranch, Amainary Contreras, Angie Corley, Yesenia Sosa Gonzalez, Beatrice Hadjipateras, Heather Jackson, Chyna Star Kane-Ross, Michelle Leuenberger, Ivie Martinez, Julie Pagaduan, Misa Tanaka.

About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Krista DeNio

Krista DeNio is an interdisciplinary choreographer, director, performer, writer and educator, and Artistic Director of Moving Ground. She is committed to creating new forms of performance work and interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of dance and theater, among others.

DeNio is a House Artist at CounterPulse, where she has also been a two-time Artist-in-Residence. She has been a lecturer with UC Berkeley’s Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies department; a visiting professor and collaborator in Empathy Lab, a course developed in collaboration with Anthropology professor Lochlann Jain, at Stanford University; an adjunct professor at Marlboro College, Springfield College and others; and was the Executive Director of Earthdance from 2009-2013. http://www.kristadenio.com/.

About James Graham

James Graham is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He presents his choreographic work through his company James Graham Dance Theatre, while also curating the work of others, namely in Dance Lovers, his annual Valentine’s show of duets. Graham is currently on faculty at UC Berkeley, the Dominican University/LINES Ballet B.F.A. Program, and at the SF Conservatory of Dance where he teaches GAGA People classes. Graham was chosen by Ohad Naharin (Batsheva Dance Company) to be a Certified Gaga Instructor and to take part in his pilot training program of international Gaga teachers. He has taught extensively on the West Coast, the Midwest, as well as Canada, South Korea, and Israel.Graham received an M.F.A. from The Ohio State University in 2010, and a B.A. from UC Berkeley in 2005 where he Majored in Theater and Minored in Dance. www.jamesgrahamdancetheatre.com

TDPS Presents “Love and Pride” a New Musical About Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Relationships.

Berkeley, CA – March 2017 – This Spring UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Love and Pride, a new musical directed, written, and choreographed by TDPS student Sy Bocalbos Jordan that lightheartedly explores how people navigate gender identity, sexual orientation and learning to love yourself and others. Featuring an original electronic score, Love and Pride follows six interconnected characters through San Francisco’s landmark festivals and celebrations as they learn to respect, and appreciate, all expressions of sexuality and identity. Love and Pride runs March 16-19 in Zellerbach Room 7 on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $10 to $15 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/love-and-pride/) or at the door.

Love and Pride opens on Bay to Breakers, San Francisco’s annual 12k run that is heavy on costumes, light on competition, and optional on clothing. The show’s opening number, “Summer in San Francisco,” declares that you can be whatever you want in SF, and introduces a lively cast of characters who want to believe just that: Aphrodite, an outspoken genderqueer pansexual; Alexander, her best friend and band mate who is uneasy with the LGBTQ+ community; Aurora and Ash, a lesbian couple going through major changes; and married couple Abigail and Andrew who are not the cisgender heterosexuals they appear to be. These individuals intermingle, transition, come out, fight, laugh and fall in love against the backdrop of iconic San Francisco events, from Outside Lands to Pride to the Folsom Street Fair.

In order to accurately portray the struggles of multiple individuals across the gender spectrum, Love and Pride writer and director Sy Bocalbos Jordan conducted numerous interviews with LGBTQ+ identifying individuals. “Authenticity was really important to me,” says Sy, “because I explore multiple viewpoints in the play—queer, trans, asexual and more.” Sy found the interview process especially helpful as she herself doesn’t identify with all of the viewpoints presented in the musical. And, she adds, “Even if I did, one person can’t speak for an entire group.” To ensure these identities were portrayed with respect and accuracy, Sy used the interviews to identify common themes and struggles, and drew all the dialogue in the play from people who occupy those identities. “It was important that the narratives came from lived experiences, in the hopes that these stories can be a starting point for conversation and understanding.

The original electronic music score in Love and Pride, also written by Sy, draws from a variety of genres, including pop, jazz, trip hop and acoustic. Sy says, “I’ve been a musician my whole life, mostly in rock bands, but most recently I was in an electronic band. I started thinking, ‘What if I did an electronic musical?’ And I just started writing songs!” Sy, a double major in Theater and Performance Studies and Gender Studies with a minor in Music, sees all of her passions converging in Love and Pride—“This is the perfect combination of everything I’ve been studying here at Berkeley!”—and hopes that the musical will spark honest conversation and reflection. “I believe that if people are willing to talk openly and respectfully, even about polarizing issues, then we can all learn something. Hopefully this play can show how dialogue can allow you to have a relationship with someone who holds different views.”

With its original score, diverse ensemble, and humorous approach, Love and Pride shows the difficulties and rewards that come from opening up and having honest conversations about gender and sexual identity with family, friends, lovers, and, ultimately, ourselves.

Production Details

Love and Pride opens Thursday, March 16 and continues through Sunday, March 19, 2017 at Zellerbach Room 7 on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $10 online and at the door; General admission tickets are $15 online and at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/love-and-pride/ or at the door.

Directed by Sy Bocalbos Jordan with co-director Lila Mullins, Love and Pride features scenic design by Chin Kuo and Ashley McGullum, costume design by Kyo Yohena and Michelle Lubimov, lighting design by Kalon Cheung, and sound design by Chris Sauceda.

The cast includes: Max Yearian, Chad Theriault, Kevin Mu, Ceylan Ersoy, Alyse Gonthier, Illan Halpern, Ariel Hsieh, Yara Kanaaneh, Janette Keola, Mallory Penney, Joel Sedano, Kamia Rodil Willis, Stephanie Toussaint, Camille Cheetham.

For more info about the TDPS production, visit http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/love-and-pride/.

For more info about the script, visit http://loveandpridethemusical.com/.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Sy Bocalbos Jordan

Sy is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Gender and Women’s studies and Theater and Performance Studies, with a minor in Music. Born and raised in San Francisco, she has been a musician all of her life, and has been the lead singer of several bands, ranging from pop to rock to electronic music. She worked as a fitness instructor for over 8 years, where she taught kickboxing, yoga, and hip hop dance. Sy has been writing Love and Pride for over a year, conducting interviews and facilitating workshops to discuss the complex topics of the play. As the playwright and composer, and currently working as the director and choreographer for Love and Pride, this project is the culmination of her passions for music, theater and dance; her fascination with gender, sexuality and relationships; and her desire to fight for social justice.

UC Berkeley Presents Naomi Iizuka’s “Polaroid Stories,” a Powerful Telling of Street Kids’ Stories Woven with Myth

Berkeley, CA – March 2017 – This Spring UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories, an eye-opening depiction of the lives of street youth woven together with tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Directed by veteran Bay Area actress and director Margo Hall, this dark social commentary on street teens runs March 3-12 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (tdps.berkeley.edu/events/polaroid-stories/) or at the door.

Based on Iizuka’s interviews with sex workers and runaways, Polaroid Stories elevates complex tales of life on the street by using poetic language and mythological figures. Set in a dilapidated urban landscape, Polaroid Stories follows a group of teenagers, portrayed as mythological characters, as they hustle, steal, and try to survive the streets. Narcissus is a young street hustler obsessed with his own visage who lives off wealthy men that desire him. Orpheus obsessively follows and harasses his girlfriend, Eurydice, who is trying to escape his stifling love. Semele is seduced by a God/drug dealer. Living amongst these teens are gods. Persephone, queen of the underworld, gives potent advice. G (aka:Zeus) chases young girls and D (aka:Dionysus) is a drug dealer who demands to be worshiped. The transformations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses are reenacted through drug induced delusions. A drug addict becomes a Goddess. A God becomes a man. And a warehouse becomes a terrifying maze.

Director Margo Hall was originally drawn to Polaroid Stories by Iizuka’s use of language. “She takes abrasive and unapologetic urban language and makes it poetic in a way that you can hear and listen to,” says Hall. “You are drawn in because of the melody. Language like that can seem repetitive, which it is in her piece, but the words that she chooses to repeat and the rhythm of it keep you interested, as opposed to distanced from it.”

Beyond the lyrical nature of the play, Hall sees particular resonance of the play with the students. “The current political climate has motivated our students to be more invested in this project,” says Hall. “ We are surrounded by tent cities in our area, and the stories in this play shine a light on the inhabitants of those tents.” Hall hopes viewers leave the play changed. “Watching the play and seeing students that are the same age as the characters, characters similar to people sleeping in People’s Park, you hope it will create empathy. I want people to walk out of the playhouse, walk around the corner and see people on the street with empathy instead of apathy.”

Disturbing and illuminating, Naomi Iizuka’s Polaroid Stories blends poetry and profanity to explore how young people pushed to the edge of society survive drug addiction and violence, love lost and found, and transcend the difficulties of life on the streets.

Production Details

Polaroid Stories opens Friday, March 3 and continues through Sunday, March 12, 2017 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/polaroid-stories or at the door.

Polaroid Stories features scenic design by Justine Law, costume design by Wendy Sparks-Rehl, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Hannah Birch Carl.

The cast includes: Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Joe Ayers, Obashi Chen, Anya Cherniss, Jordan Don, Sarah Handler, Farryl Lawson, Jessica Li-Jo, Marie Morley, Akash Patel, Samuel Peurach, Ciclady Rodriguez, Paris Shockley, and Baela Tinsley.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Margo Hall

Margo Hall is an award-winning actor, director, playwright and educator. Margo teaches at Chabot Community College, and has taught at the American Conservatory Theater MFA Program, and the Berkeley Repertory School of Theater. She holds a MFA in Drama from Catholic University of America. Recent acting credits include Fences and Twelfth Night at California Shakespeare Theater and Gem of the Ocean and Seven Guitars for Marin Theater Company. Margo is a founding member of Campo Santo, a resident theater company at Intersection for the Arts. She debuted as a Director with the award-winning world premiere of Joyride, from the novel Grand Avenue by Greg Sarris. She most recently directed Red Velvet, at SF Playhouse. Margo completed her first writing project in April 2005 with the world premiere of The People’s Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the Glickman award for best new play in the Bay Area for 2005. She premiered her semi biographical piece, Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, at Z Space, featuring the Marcus Shelby 15 piece Orchestra. The musical chronicled her life growing up in Detroit with her jazz musician stepfather who was with Motown and featured original music composed by Marcus Shelby.

November 2016 Student Spotlight: Dylan Feldman, ’16

Name: Dylan Feldman
Major: Double major in Theater & Performance Studies and Computer Science
Year: 5th Year Senior


When did you first become interested in lighting design?

I’ve been involved in theater lighting since my freshman year of high school. My theater teacher basically said, “We need another lighting designer because ours is graduating.” So I said yes on a whim, and then ended up loving it and deciding to pursue it professionally. I knew when I entered Cal that I wanted to study lighting design, so I sought out TDPS and enrolled in all the design courses I could.

What is it about lighting design that attracts you?

I’ve actually thought about this a lot. Halfway through tech week, I always get really tired and grumpy, thinking, “Why am I doing this? It’s so stressful and long and I could be doing so many other things.” But what I’ve realized is that I really like coming together with a bunch of different people, often strangers, to make something come to life. Through collaboration, we turn ideas into something concrete and real that other people can appreciate too, and that’s the biggest attraction for me. And even though it can be sad when the show ends and the team disbands, I’ve realized that the theater community is a very strong one. I will likely work with the same people again at some point, which is exciting to look forward to.

How did your experiences and training at TDPS prepare you for your largest project yet, designing lights for the recent production of Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War?

During my time here, I’ve been lucky to have a lot of opportunities to design or assist with the lighting for TDPS productions. I designed the Fall Choreography Showcase in 2014, was the Assistant Lighting Designer for Aulis in Spring 2015, co-designed A Murder of Crows with Jack Carpenter in Fall 2015, and designed one of the pieces in the Berkeley Dance Project this past spring.

So that brings us to the current production of “Heart of Spain,” which is quite frankly a giant behemoth of a musical. Having worked on multiple productions in the department, I had a general sense of how the design processes work. Working on this show, however, made me realize how shielded I was from many of the small details and nuances of putting a production together. As the sole lighting designer for this large-scale production, I made so many small, detailed decisions and learned how intricate communication has to be. This show made me grateful for all of my experiences thus far and to the people who have helped me along the way.

The design team for Heart of Spain was primarily professional designers, such as Annie Smart (Costume Design) and Kate Edmunds (Scenic Design). What was the experience like for you, as a student, to be on par with these professionals?

Really awesome but also really intimidating! At first I felt a lot of pressure, which was self-imposed, to produce ideas of the same caliber as these professionals. But after many lessons learned, I became more comfortable with being a student in this environment—if I’m not as insightful as Kate Edmunds, that’s okay! So in that sense, I tried to relax and enjoy it more. When I am less stressed, I can do a better job of being present, which allowed me to really listen to what these professionals had to say and watch how they handled the complications of this project. Everyone in the room was so smart and creative and they have such inspiring careers.

Jack Carpenter [TDPS lecturer and professional lighting designer], who was credited as Lighting Director for the show, was my supervisor (but really more like a guardian angel). He was in a lot of the meetings and rehearsals, and sometimes he’d poke me in the side to say, “Someone just said something that’s related to lighting. Be sure you write that down and follow up on it, or ask a question to make sure you know how this affects you.” He was also really good at asking leading questions to help me realize the questions I should be asking at each point of the design process. And sometimes he saved me on practical points, like “that light isn’t going to work there because there’s a wall in the way.” I’d ultimately figure that out on my own, but it was really helpful to get that advice before I got too far down an ineffective path and wasted time. I’ll be mostly learning through trial and error on my own once I’ve graduated, so his mentorship throughout the process was invaluable to me. And the part of me that still needs to find time to work on homework also really appreciated the guidance!

What role did lighting play in Heart of Spain?

From the very first concept meeting, we knew that the scenic design was going to be a unit set without much movement, so the lighting would have to separate space, indicate time and location, and let the audience know where the characters are. It was a challenging but exciting responsibility to be helping define the show in such a way.

With this show, I had the freedom to be bold. I remember talking in a design meeting about an idea I had for a certain scene and saying something like, “I’m worried it will be too dramatic.” Everyone started laughing—and that’s when I realized that there’s no such thing as too dramatic in this show. I experimented with bold colors, light leaking onto the stage to indicate offstage actions and presences, and footlights and handheld lanterns, to name just a few things.

Anything else you want to share?

One thing I realized while working on this production is that it’s okay to say that you don’t know. People aren’t going to get mad at you if you’re honest. Then you can go think about it and come back and say, “Okay, here’s what I’ve found.”

Good luck to all the aspiring designers out there!

November 2016 Faculty Spotlight: Julia Fawcett


Julia Fawcett, Assistant Professor and Performance Studies/History scholar, is the newest member of TDPS’s faculty. She comes to UC Berkeley from Ryerson University in Toronto.

Picture a venn diagram. If the circle on the left is Theater History and the circle on the right is Performance Studies, the overlapping section in the middle is the research home of Julia Fawcett, the newest member of TDPS’s faculty. Julia, who comes to UC Berkeley from Ryerson University in Toronto, self-identifies as a “Performance Historian” and her research interests focus primarily on theater history and performance studies in the context of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Says Julia, “I’m interested in what was happening onstage during this time period, but I am also interested in performances that were taking place outside of the theater.”

Julia’s research requires her to be part researcher, part detective, and part investigative journalist. For example, her current research project examines ideas of personal space in late 17th century England after the Great Fire of London. “When I first came to this topic, I thought, there are no explicit records on this subject and I can’t travel back in time, so how do I even begin to investigate? And that methodological question intrigued me,” Julia shares.

She eventually identified multiple angles that combined to demonstrate society’s growing awareness of how urban planning and architecture affects people moving through the city. “People were starting to consider how space impacted inhabitants, partly because the fire left a relatively blank slate and partly because a growing immigrant population was beginning to cause tension,” Julia explains. “So I am looking at this subject by analyzing things like architecture treatises, maps, and medical records and court documents that touch on personal space for women and what was considered a violation. I can also learn a lot from the developments in theater architecture and set design at the time. When you put everything together, it’s clear that people at the time were thinking about space in new ways, both in the theater and outside the theater.”

Julia, who holds a PhD in English from Yale and a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard, did not always see her career path in performance studies. In fact, she didn’t even know that the field existed! As an English major at Harvard, she was involved in theater extracurricularly and took several classes with Beth Lyman that introduced her to the concept of studying performance as an academic subject. “But I didn’t know at the time that it was called Performance Studies,” Julia explained, “and I had no idea that I could combine English and theater.” It wasn’t until she began her PhD program at Yale and met performance studies scholar Joe Roach that she realized her interests had a name. “I started talking to Joe and realized that what he was calling performance studies was exactly what I had been doing and exactly what I was interested in. I finally had a name for it, and a vision for a career that incorporated all my interests.”

After graduating with her PhD in 2011, Julia completed a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale and then moved to Toronto to teach Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture at Ryerson University. She was motivated to accept the job at Berkeley because of TDPS’s integrated approach to performance studies and welcoming atmosphere. “When I came for the interview,” Julia recalls, “it was such a warm environment. The faculty were very supportive and seemed to enjoy each other. I remember that, at one point, Gail [De Kosnik] said something that made Shannon [Steen] almost fall out of her chair laughing — and I thought, I want to work here! The graduate students were also very impressive; they asked such great questions and everyone was doing really interesting research. I didn’t get to meet any undergraduates during that first visit, but the faculty and graduate students all said great things about the undergraduate students. That isn’t always the case in top-tier universities, and it was very refreshing.”

Julia is settling into her first semester with TDPS; she is currently teaching a graduate course on Performance Methodologies as well as the undergraduate course Theater 125: Community Theaters, which explores how practices of performers in medieval York, Restoration London, and twenty-first-century San Francisco use unique performance practices and settings to get around the dearth of space and the price of real estate in their cities. She is also busy settling into life in California. “It’s strange, I never pictured myself as a California person,” Julia laughs. “I always told myself that I liked winter, in that way that people from the East Coast, and also people from Canada, say that they like winter. It’s a pride thing. But California is beautiful and, as of now, I don’t think I’ll miss winter! Ask me again in January.”

Student Veterans’ Stories Take Centerstage in Choreographer Joe Goode’s New Piece “Reentry: The Process of Resilience”


Berkeley, CA –
November 2016. The UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies continues its 2016/2017 season with the new physical theater piece Reentry: The Process of Resilience, created by acclaimed choreographer Joe Goode from interviews with Cal student veterans. The production uses verbatim text, physical movement, music, and other forms to share veterans’ narratives of their UC Berkeley experiences and craft a nuanced portrait of reintegration, resilience and the tenacity of the human spirit. Reentry: The Process of Resilience plays November 17-20, with performances Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 PM and Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 PM in Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/reentry) or at the door.

To create Reentry: The Process of Resilience, award-winning choreographer and TDPS Professor Joe Goode worked closely with the Cal Veterans Center to gather stories and explore the unique challenges facing student veterans, above and beyond the challenges faced by all combat veterans who reenter civilian life. In the course of interviewing  veterans, including both current students and recent graduates, Goode was struck by the strength and resilience that these individuals exhibited in order to not only get to UC Berkeley, but to then also remain and be successful. “Their stories, to a great degree, are stories of survival and of overcoming great obstacles in order to get this rigorous education,” says Goode. “Having experienced the rigors and the discipline of the military, and then the rigors and discipline of going to a Research I university, these veterans have a lot of maturity and wisdom to share, especially about grit, tenacity, coping, and overcoming.”

Goode’s interviews revealed that integrating into Cal’s liberal university environment proved difficult for many student veterans. Says Goode, “Regardless of their own personal political views, there’s a stigma attached to being military or ex-military at this liberal, radical university, and there’s also the social dynamic of Berkeley to consider. Navigating how they fit into, or don’t fit into, these environments is something a lot of veterans wanted to talk about [in the interviews].” The physical theater piece Reentry will portray these stories and a range of other experiences related to UC Berkeley, as well as topics such as navigating personal relationships and returning from a combat zone.

An award-winning choreographer, the leader of San Francisco-based dance company the Joe Goode Performance Group, and a non-veteran, Joe Goode acknowledges that he is an unlikely mouthpiece for military voices. When the Institute for Health and Well Being of Military and their Families, in collaboration with Kansas State University, first approached him in 2013 to see if he would do a project with wounded veterans around their reintegration into civilian life, he almost said no. “I was reluctant because I am not a veteran myself and I don’t believe in telling other people’s stories if I can’t live them,” said Joe Goode. “So I only reluctantly agreed to go and meet with the people in Kansas, but after I talked to them I was totally sold. The stories were so compelling, deep, and human. Some veterans are very eager to tell their stories; I hope I can be of service in getting their stories into the world.”

After that initial production in Kansas, Goode’s interview-to-performance process took on a life of its own as “The Resilience Project,” an ongoing performance series by the Joe Goode Performance Group, which primarily explores stories of disabled combat veterans. Members of the dance company conduct interviews, then use those texts to create a visceral, emotional dance work. Says Goode of the process, “I call it Verbatim Theater. We’re not coming up with the words; we are editing and arranging and sculpting, but every single word is from an interview. It is all verbatim from the mouths of real people.”

In producing Reentry: The Process of Resilience at UC Berkeley with student artists, Joe Goode is using the same methodology and creation process that he uses with his professional dance company. However, instead of looking specifically at injured combat veterans’ stories, Reentry focuses on the wide-ranging experiences of Cal student veterans, including some who saw combat and some who did not. Additionally, the piece will be far less dance-heavy than Goode’s previous productions. “I’m delighted to be presenting this piece with the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies,” says Goode. “We have very talented students here, both actors and dancers, and as a result I can lean much more heavily on the acting. That’s new territory for me and very exciting.” The cast of eight TDPS students (non-veterans) tasked with bringing these stories to life includes: Joe Ayers, Linda Girón, Hesed Kim, Logan Moody, Marie Morley, Ely Orquiza, Alex Parkin, and Baela Tinsley.

About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Joe Goode

Professor Joe Goode is an acclaimed choreographer and Artistic Director of Joe Goode Performance Group, with whom he has performed in the U.S., Canada, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. His performance installations have been commissioned by: the Krannert Art Museum; the M. H. DeYoung Museum; Capp Street Project; and the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA. In addition to creating more than 50 new works for his own company, Goode has also been commissioned for dance companies across America.Joe Goode has received a New York Dance and Performance Award (for his production of Deeply There); the Isadora Duncan Award for choreography; fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the California Arts Council; and the Irvine Fellowship in Dance. He is the recipient of the 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography and the USA Artist’s Fellowship for Choreography in 2008. Goode has also been honored with awards of excellence from the American Council on the Arts, the Business Arts Council/San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the California Dance Educators Association.

 

 

UC Berkeley Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War with Slate of Cultural Events

This fall, UC Berkeley marks the 80th Anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with a series of cultural events on campus, including theater performances, exhibits, film screenings and public discussions. These events commemorate the Spanish Civil War, recognize the remarkable achievements of volunteers during and after the war, and mark UC Berkeley’s connection to this progressive, activist, and internationalist event.

When General Francisco Franco staged a coup against the democratically elected Spanish government in July 1936 he did not realize the passions his action would unleash around the world. Approximately 30,000 volunteers traveled to Spain between 1936-1939 to support the Spanish Republic in its struggle against Franco; 2,700 of those volunteers were from the US.

One of the first and most celebrated volunteers was Robert Hale Merriman, a Berkeley PhD student in Economics, who became the first commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was made up of US volunteers. Later, Merriman’s widow helped found the Bay Area Post of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB). Over the years, this Post has donated an extensive collection of papers, letters, photographs, posters, pamphlets and artifacts from the Spanish Civil War to UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, making it one of the most significant archives of its kind. In recognition of UC Berkeley’s connection to the war and its role in preserving the history of the conflict, the campus has organized a variety of commemorative events across multiple University departments and organizations. Full event details can be found at www.spanishcivilwar80.berkeley.edu.  Below is an abbreviated listing of upcoming events.

Fall 2016 Program of Commemorative Events

September 2016 – July 1, 2017
Guerra Civil @ 80
Gallery Exhibition | Bancroft Library

A visual and written display of the struggle to defend the Second Spanish Republic, this exhibition features selections from The Bancroft Library’s Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) Bay Area Post Records and Photograph Collections, as well as posters, books, pamphlets and more.

September 2016 – December 16, 2016
Incite the Spirit: Poster Art of the Spanish Civil War
Gallery Exhibition | Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall

This selection of digital prints (drawn from the collection of the Bancroft Library) showcases political posters designed by leading graphic artists of the era and reflects the influence of contemporary aesthetic movements such as expressionism, formalism, and constructivism.

September 14 + September 21
Author Adam Hochschild on Spain in Our Hearts
Two book talks | September 14, Morrison Library, 5 PM | September 21, Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall, 12 PM

Adam Hochschild discusses his latest book, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, that draws on a vast array of sources to tell the story of the Americans who defied US policy to risk their lives defending democracy in Spain.

October 4
Poetry of the Spanish Civil War: A Reading
Poetry Reading | Durham Studio Theater, 7 PM

Faculty and graduate student poets and poetry scholars from the Department of English and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese read selections of Spanish Civil War poetry in both English and Spanish. Hosted by Lyn Hejinian and Robert Hass.

October 13, 2016
Showings of “The Good Fight” and “Guernica”
Film Screening | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 7 PM

The documentary “The Good Fight” (1984) tells the inspiring story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a ragtag group of American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Presented with the short film “Guernica,” which considers one of the Spanish Civil War’s worst atrocities through Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece.

October 21 – October 30, 2016
Heart of Spain: A Musical of the Spanish Civil War
Theater Production | October 21-30 | Zellerbach Playhouse

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies presents “Heart of Spain,” a musical that follows a diverse group of American volunteers across the Atlantic, over the Pyrenees, and into battle. The show combines popular music and poetry of the period, writings by the volunteers, and original material into a rousing theatrical experience. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain) or at the door.

Following the 2 PM matinee performance of “Heart of Spain” on Sunday, October 23, playwright/composers Peter Glazer and Eric Peltoniemi discuss the inspiration, creation, and evolution of the show. *A ticket to the 2 PM performance is required to attend this event.

October 25, 2016
Investigative Journalism and Human Rights: Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill in Conversation with Kate Doyle
Discussion  | Zellerbach Playhouse, 6:30 PM 

The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism was established in 2011 to honor all those who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War by connecting the legacy with international activist causes today. This year’s winners, Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill, discuss their work with Kate Doyle, director of the Evidence Project at the National Security Archive.

Sponsoring Organizations

These events have been made possible by contributions and support from: Puffin Foundation | San Francisco Foundation | Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives | UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, ARC/Arts and Design Initiative, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, and the Division of Arts and Humanities | the UC Berkeley Departments of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies; English; and Spanish and Portuguese.

TDPS’s “Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War” Commemorates 80th Anniversary of the Conflict

This October, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War, co-written by TDPS professor Peter Glazer and Eric Bain Peltoniemi. Presented in conjunction with the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Heart of Spain follows a group of US volunteers—men and women from a mix of socio-economic classes and ethnic backgrounds—across the Atlantic, over the Pyrenees, and into battle as they fight to defend the Spanish Republic against fascist General Francisco Franco’s military coup on the eve of WWII. Interweaving eyewitness accounts, historical documents and writings, original compositions and traditional songs accompanied by a four-piece band, the production brings to life the bitter war that inspired everyday Americans, most with idealistic beliefs but minimal military training, to fight. Heart of Spain plays October 21-30, 2016, with performances on Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM in Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain) or at the door.

Heart of Spain opens in 1936 as a call to arms goes out internationally for volunteers to travel to Spain and defend the newly elected Spanish Republic against a coup by the fascist Nationalist Spanish generals. The show’s first act plunges viewers into the Depression-era America of the 1930’s as volunteers gather: communists and left-leaning revolutionaries fighting for change, laborers and unionists supporting the Spanish people, journalists documenting revolution, and liberals appalled by the rise of fascism and what it represented for the world. The second act follows the volunteers as they journey to Spain to join the front, as their hope turns to despair when they encounter the forces (backed by Hitler and Mussolini) arrayed against them, as they confront the realities of their own idealism, and as they are forced back to the US, where they are greeted with suspicion and labeled un-American.

The passionate willingness of international volunteers to intervene in another country’s civil war speaks to today’s contemporary debate about the United State’s involvement in regime change and overseas interventions. “Heart of Spain brings up many questions about the nature of internationalism,” says director Peter Glazer, “When and why is it appropriate for a nation to intervene overseas? This was a big part of the controversy around the Spanish Civil War at the time it was fought, and those questions persist today.”

With a live four-piece band, songs and poems from the period, evocative staging and costumes, and a talented cast, Heart of Spain transports audiences to this historically-important, ideologically-fraught conflict fueled by the fervent idealism of anti-fascist volunteer soldiers who were willing to hike over mountains and huddle in foxholes, steadfast in their belief that great global issues at stake.

Production Details

Heart of Spain opens Friday, October 21 and continues through Sunday, October 30, 2016 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain or at the door.

Heart of Spain features scenic design by Kate Edmunds, costume design by Annie Smart, lighting design by Dylan Feldman, sound design by Emily Fassler and musical direction by Mark Sumner. The cast includes: Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Eddie Benzoni, Melissa Chapman, Josie Clark-Steinmetz, Isabel Cruz, Harry Fahn, Alexander Gebert, Yoonji Jang, Veronica Maynez, Akash Patel, Claire Pearson, Shauna Satnick, Vaisakh Shankar, Alyssa So, Bri’Unia Stock, Ali Toia, and Boris Zabavsky.

# # #

About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Peter Glazer

Associate Professor Peter Glazer is a professional director and playwright, as well as a longtime member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Board President of Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco, and a member of the Board of the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. He is the creator of the musical Woody Guthrie’s American Song, which has been produced over 100 times nationwide since its premiere in 1988, at theaters including Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Ford’s Theater, Northlight Theater, San Jose Rep, Missouri Rep, and Marin Theater Company, all under Glazer’s direction. The New York production of American Song at the Melting Pot Theater Company received two Drama Desk nominations, among the many awards the show has received in its long history.

Other theater pieces Glazer has written or co-written include Foe, adapted from Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee’s novel of the same name; Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate with singer-songwriter Michael Smith; O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music with Celtic harpist Patrick Ball; and Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War with composer Eric Bain Peltoniemi.

Glazer has also co-written, produced and directed numerous commemorative performances remembering the American anti-fascist volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, in New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He sits on the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), and served on the Board’s Executive Committee for four years. His book, Radical Nostalgia: Spanish Civil War Commemoration in America, explores the commemorative history surrounding the volunteers, and argues that the memories and traditions called upon at these events through music, texts, and photographs, have progressive potential in the contemporary world.

About Eric Bain Peltoniemi

Eric Bain Peltoniemi is a singer/songwriter, actor, Grammy-winning producer and the former President of acclaimed indie folk label Red House Records. Peltoniemi’s original songs have been recorded by artists like Bok, Trickett & Muir; Robin & Linda Williams; Sally Rogers & Claudia Schmidt; Lisa Asher; and prominent Finnish artists Topi Saha and Koinurit, among others. He has also written music, lyrics and occasional book for eleven plays, including the regional hits Ten November (a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Steven Dietz) and Plain Hearts (with playwright Lance Belville). Along with his collaborator Peter Glazer, he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the creation of Heart of Spain, a musical about the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. His music will soon be featured in Ikitie (The Eternal Road), a new Finnish/Swedish/Estonian film production in which he also appears (to be released in 2017).


FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Melissa Schultz
UC Berkeley TDPS
Email: mschultz@berkeley.edu
Tel: (510) 644-7612

TDPS’s “Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War” Commemorates 80th Anniversary of the Conflict

This October, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War, co-written by TDPS professor Peter Glazer and Eric Bain Peltoniemi. Presented in conjunction with the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Heart of Spain follows a group of US volunteers—men and women from a mix of socio-economic classes and ethnic backgrounds—across the Atlantic, over the Pyrenees, and into battle as they fight to defend the Spanish Republic against fascist General Francisco Franco’s military coup on the eve of WWII. Interweaving eyewitness accounts, historical documents and writings, original compositions and traditional songs accompanied by a four-piece band, the production brings to life the bitter war that inspired everyday Americans, most with idealistic beliefs but minimal military training, to fight. Heart of Spain plays October 21-30, 2016, with performances on Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM in Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain) or at the door.

Heart of Spain opens in 1936 as a call to arms goes out internationally for volunteers to travel to Spain and defend the newly elected Spanish Republic against a coup by the fascist Nationalist Spanish generals. The show’s first act plunges viewers into the Depression-era America of the 1930’s as volunteers gather: communists and left-leaning revolutionaries fighting for change, laborers and unionists supporting the Spanish people, journalists documenting revolution, and liberals appalled by the rise of fascism and what it represented for the world. The second act follows the volunteers as they journey to Spain to join the front, as their hope turns to despair when they encounter the forces (backed by Hitler and Mussolini) arrayed against them, as they confront the realities of their own idealism, and as they are forced back to the US, where they are greeted with suspicion and labeled un-American.

The passionate willingness of international volunteers to intervene in another country’s civil war speaks to today’s contemporary debate about the United State’s involvement in regime change and overseas interventions. “Heart of Spain brings up many questions about the nature of internationalism,” says director Peter Glazer, “When and why is it appropriate for a nation to intervene overseas? This was a big part of the controversy around the Spanish Civil War at the time it was fought, and those questions persist today.”

With a live four-piece band, songs and poems from the period, evocative staging and costumes, and a talented cast, Heart of Spain transports audiences to this historically-important, ideologically-fraught conflict fueled by the fervent idealism of anti-fascist volunteer soldiers who were willing to hike over mountains and huddle in foxholes, steadfast in their belief that great global issues at stake.

Production Details

Heart of Spain opens Friday, October 21 and continues through Sunday, October 30, 2016 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain or at the door.

Heart of Spain features scenic design by Kate Edmunds, costume design by Annie Smart, lighting design by Dylan Feldman, sound design by Emily Fassler and musical direction by Mark Sumner. The cast includes: Yohana Ansari-Thomas, Eddie Benzoni, Melissa Chapman, Josie Clark-Steinmetz, Isabel Cruz, Harry Fahn, Alexander Gebert, Yoonji Jang, Veronica Maynez, Akash Patel, Claire Pearson, Shauna Satnick, Vaisakh Shankar, Alyssa So, Bri’Unia Stock, Ali Toia, and Boris Zabavsky.

# # #

About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Peter Glazer

Associate Professor Peter Glazer is a professional director and playwright, as well as a longtime member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Board President of Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco, and a member of the Board of the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. He is the creator of the musical Woody Guthrie’s American Song, which has been produced over 100 times nationwide since its premiere in 1988, at theaters including Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Ford’s Theater, Northlight Theater, San Jose Rep, Missouri Rep, and Marin Theater Company, all under Glazer’s direction. The New York production of American Song at the Melting Pot Theater Company received two Drama Desk nominations, among the many awards the show has received in its long history.

Other theater pieces Glazer has written or co-written include Foe, adapted from Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee’s novel of the same name; Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate with singer-songwriter Michael Smith; O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music with Celtic harpist Patrick Ball; and Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War with composer Eric Bain Peltoniemi.

Glazer has also co-written, produced and directed numerous commemorative performances remembering the American anti-fascist volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, in New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He sits on the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), and served on the Board’s Executive Committee for four years. His book, Radical Nostalgia: Spanish Civil War Commemoration in America, explores the commemorative history surrounding the volunteers, and argues that the memories and traditions called upon at these events through music, texts, and photographs, have progressive potential in the contemporary world.

About Eric Bain Peltoniemi

Eric Bain Peltoniemi is a singer/songwriter, actor, Grammy-winning producer and the former President of acclaimed indie folk label Red House Records. Peltoniemi’s original songs have been recorded by artists like Bok, Trickett & Muir; Robin & Linda Williams; Sally Rogers & Claudia Schmidt; Lisa Asher; and prominent Finnish artists Topi Saha and Koinurit, among others. He has also written music, lyrics and occasional book for eleven plays, including the regional hits Ten November (a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Steven Dietz) and Plain Hearts (with playwright Lance Belville). Along with his collaborator Peter Glazer, he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the creation of Heart of Spain, a musical about the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. His music will soon be featured in Ikitie (The Eternal Road), a new Finnish/Swedish/Estonian film production in which he also appears (to be released in 2017).


FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Melissa Schultz
UC Berkeley TDPS
Email: mschultz@berkeley.edu
Tel: (510) 644-7612

TDPS’s 2016/17 Season of Playhouse & Studio Productions

TDPS 2016/17 Season

Playhouse and Studio Productions

TDPS’s 2016/17 season, our 75th, explores ways that individuals fight against the odds, against seemingly insurmountable forces and powers greater than themselves, and manage to survive. In our Playhouse and Studio Productions this year, we delve into stories of conflict, and also of connection—with others, with causes, with the physical world.

Our fall productions investigate two different facets of war: Heart of Spain follows volunteers heading off to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to fight against fascism, while Reentry: The Process of Resilience, a physical theater work devised by choreographer Joe Goode, features stories of student veterans resuming their lives and relationships upon returning to civilian life. This spring, the battle in Polaroid Stories is on city streets, as homeless youth who are fighting to survive turn to myth, poetry and profanity to find meaning in their lives. Our other two spring shows, Love and Pride and Berkeley Dance Project, also feature themes of struggle, connectedness and communication. Each show will be brought to life by a new generation of artists who are creating work right here at UC Berkeley.

We invite you to join us for a season that celebrates humanity’s fighting spirit and probes the depths of our survival instinct, sacrifices and strength.

Learn more and buy tickets at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/season/201617/


Heart of Spain – A Musical of the Spanish Civil War

By Peter Glazer and Eric Peltoniemi // Directed by Peter Glazer
October 21-30 // Playhouse Production // The Playhouse

A musical exploration of the conflict that set the stage for World War II.

In conjunction with the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), TDPS presents Heart of Spain, a vibrant musical that follows a diverse group of US volunteers—men and women from a mix of socio-economic classes and racially diverse backgrounds—across the Atlantic, over the Pyrenees, and into battle as they fight to defend the Spanish Republic against fascist General Francisco Franco’s military coup on the eve of World War II.


Reentry: The Process of Resilience

Created and Directed by Joe Goode
November 17-20 // Studio Production // Durham Studio Theater

Voices of Cal student veterans form the foundation of a powerful physical theater piece

Reentry: The Process of Resilience is a new physical theater work by acclaimed choreographer Joe Goode, derived from interviews with Cal student veterans and their families. The piece explores how these brave individuals have worked to be resilient as they reintegrate into civilian life, and what they can teach us about the tenacity of the human spirit.


Fall Choreography Showcase

December 8-9 // Showcase // Zellerbach Room 7

The Fall Choreography Showcase highlights the work of emerging choreographers as TDPS students present original solos and duets. Come see the next generation of dance artists!


Polaroid Stories

By Naomi Iizuka // Directed by Margo Hall
March 3-12 // Playhouse Production // The Playhouse

A visceral blend of classical mythology and real life stories of street kids

In Polaroid Stories, Naomi Iizuka transports Ovid’s Metamorphoses myths to the streets, where punks, street kids and prostitutes weave mythology and their lives together into a spellbinding and haunting tapestry. With poetry and profanity, these youth living on the edge manipulate stories and the truth in order to understand, alter, forget, or escape the circumstances that keep them homeless: addiction, abuse, and poverty.


Love and Pride

Written and Directed by TDPS student Sy Desiree Jordan
March 16-19 // Studio Production // Zellerbach Room 7

An exploration of self identity and expression

Who am I? Where do I identify on the spectrums of gender identity and sexual orientation? Should I express or conceal myself? In this original new musical by TDPS undergrad student Sy Desiree Jordan, individuals identify, explore, and address their personal identifications, and also face situations like coming out, transitioning, and homelessness.


Berkeley Dance Project 2017

Choreography by Bay Area choreographers James Graham and Krista DeNio
April 20-29 // Playhouse Production // The Playhouse

Inspired by the theme “Digging Deep”

Berkeley Dance Project 2017 explores how we communicate with each other as humans, and the connections we have to our world and the organic life and elements that surround us. Krista DeNio’s Network considers the incredible abilities of plants
and humans to survive and thrive, even in tiny spaces and constrained realities, while James Graham’s For Elements explores the concepts of earth, fire, air, and water, and our relationships to each element.


Learn more and buy tickets at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/season/201617/

UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Installs State-of-the-Art Meyer Sound System

The UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS) has partnered with Berkeley-based Meyer Sound to install a state-of-the-art audio system in the 550-seat Zellerbach Playhouse. Used by both TDPS and Cal Performances, the newly-installed Meyer Sound System will provide optimal acoustics for a broad range of events, including theatrical performance, dance concerts, lectures, workshops, classes and special events.

Generously underwritten by Bay Area sound innovators Meyer Sound, the audio solution includes UPJunior-XP VariO loudspeakers, UP-4XP loudspeakers, UMS-1P and 500-HP subwoofers, and a Galileo loudspeaker management system for system drive and alignment. Meyer Sound equipment has also been installed in TDPS’s other performance and studio spaces, including the 140-seat Durham Studio Theater and the Zellerbach Room 7 blackbox.

“The old audio system in The Playhouse had been in operation for more than 30 years and was still functional, but did not offer an optimal sound experience,” says Wil Leggett, TDPS’s Production Manager. “Sound is an essential component of any theatrical experience. We want to offer the best experience possible to our students and our audiences, so when we had the opportunity to upgrade our system we went to Meyer Sound, a company that is the gold standard in professional audio equipment and also happens to be local.”

With the installation of Meyer Sound equipment, TDPS students have enhanced opportunities for hands-on work with precise professional audio, allowing for invaluable professional training and artistic growth. Chair of TDPS Catherine Cole says, “Meyer Sound equipment is renowned for accuracy and precision, and this new system will be an incredible asset to the student performers and designers that create in our spaces, the professional designers we hire, and the audiences that come through our doors—both now and for years to come.”

Based in Berkeley, Meyer Sound is a valued and generous community partner to UC Berkeley. In addition to the custom-designed TDPS system, Meyer Sound equipment provides memorable experiences at Zellerbach Hall, Memorial Stadium, Haas Pavilion and the new UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building. “With this state-of-the-art audio system from Meyer Sound, TDPS now has equipment on par with some of the best cultural institutions in the region and around the world,” says Cole.

ABOUT MEYER SOUND

Meyer Sound is a leader in the world of sound, continually seeking to elevate the overall dialogue about sound and bring greater awareness to the importance of how we hear and how we listen. Founded in 1979 by John and Helen Meyer, Meyer Sound has continually explored the everyday impact of sound—applying the highest level of scientific and acoustical principles to achieve extraordinary results in places ranging from restaurants to cruise ships to office space and concert halls and cathedrals. Outstanding design, manufacturing, service and support are the result of a company philosophy where creative thinking, old-fashioned craftsmanship and forward thinking technology are strongly intertwined.

ABOUT TDPS

Currently celebrating its 75th Anniversary, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

 

Spring 2016.

Bruce Beasley’s Rondo Sculptures Come to Life in “Berkeley Dance Project 2016”

As UC Berkeley student dancers spin and leap onto stage this week, they will bring to life a unique collaboration, a year in the making, between sculpture, movement and technology.

Renowned sculptor and Cal alum Bruce Beasley’s Rondo series consists of large scale elegant intersecting metal rings. The five sculptures in the series were displayed on the Berkeley campus in 2013 and one piece remains permanently installed near the Mining Circle. Says Beasley of the project, “There was always a question in my mind about movement. Even though the sculptures themselves are static, there was always a little tickle saying, ‘Movement. Think about movement.’” As he watched people interact with the sculptures, he began to wonder what it might mean to make a static form move, and what would it might mean to join sculpture with performance.

Then Beasley was introduced to Theater, Dance and Performance Studies professor, choreographer and new media artist Lisa Wymore. The two began to explore creating new sensor technology that could animate the rings and allow dancers to communicate with those animations. Over the course of the past year, the dance piece “Rondo Variation” emerged, which is a highlight of Berkeley Dance Project 2016, presented April 21-30 by the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

In “Rondo Variation,” six dancers wear iPods built into their costumes. As the dancers move, Wymore explains, “the accelerometers in the iPods send data to a centralized computer that uses specially designed technology to map the motion data onto animated rings, which are then projected onto the back wall of the stage.” Additionally, off-stage operators track each dancer’s spatial location on the stage, sending that data to the computer and adding yet another dimension to the animation. The end result is dancers and rings communicating together through the mediums of movement and technology.

Says Beasley, “We didn’t want the rings to be a background for the dancers, nor did we want the dancers to be independent of the rings. The goal was to create a new subject: the connection between the two. Hopefully you are torn between looking at the rings and looking at the dancers, but then there comes a point when you are watching both at the same time and seeing the real relationship.”

Berkeley Dance Project 2016 also features original works by Katie Faulkner and Amara Tabor-Smith, both award-winning Bay Area dance artists and TDPS faculty members. Faulkner’s piece asks viewers to examine what happens when a community grows so much that there is no more space for its inhabitants, while Tabor-Smith’s piece draws on the Bay Area’s history of local social justice and Black Power movements. Additionally, for the first time in over fifteen years, original student choreography is featured as part of this annual program: TDPS students Heather Brown, Hesed Kim and Sebastian Hernandez present original solos.

Berkeley Dance Project 2016 opens Thursday, April 21, and continues through Saturday, April 30 at the Zellerbach Playhouse on campus. Tickets are $13-$20 and can be purchased online or at the door.  The show runs 90 minutes with one intermission.

To learn more about Berkeley Dance Project 2016, visit the event page on the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies website.

April 21, 2016

February 2016 Alumnus Spotlight: Dick Capp, ’58

Name: Dick Capp
Year of Graduation: 1958
Major: Dramatic Art

What are your strongest memories about your time in the Department of Dramatic Arts or on the campus as a whole?
Well, one of the biggest things is that Zellerbach Hall wasn’t built yet, so we did shows in the basement of Dwinelle (the “Little Theater”) and in a converted lecture hall (Hearst Hall). It was still an active lecture hall, so you had to build sets that you could take down and put up again for each of the four performances. Personally, I was more interested in directing and technical theater than acting. I was a member of Mask and Dagger and Thalian Society; members of those two groups were always involved in any dramatic presentation.  We always had lots of fun on those enterprises.

I also directed the Axe Review for 2 years, which took about 3-4 months each time. The Axe Review was part of Berkeley Big Game leadup, taking place the week prior to the game. It was a big variety show put on by the living groups, fraternities and sororities. There were skits, and trophies. We’d always have a theme to the show relating to the Big Game or something about campus, and would usually borrow music from a big broadway show, like “76 Trombones” from The Music Man, and change the words to suit the theme. Everyone would get really excited. Again, with no campus theater, we had to rent the Berkeley Community Theater; each show was always a sellout!

I did a lot of audio recording for campus events and sporting games. A group of us formed the ASUC Radio-TV Theater,  and we would record concerts, football games, basketball games, glee club, octets, you name it. Then we would beg time on local stations to play them. The Berkeley campus had no radio or TV facilities at that time. Every week, we had a 15-minute segment where we talked about sports and featured a player of the week. One time we even took a tape recorder out on a boat and recorded the rowing crew during practice in the Oakland estuary, something easy to do today, but very difficult in 1958! We would do one TV show each year and broadcast one production about computers on KQED and one Glee Club presentation on KPIX in San Francisco  Another time we were recording an organ concert as part of the opening on a new concert hall. It was a major undertaking and they had brought in a guest organist. He got partway into his concert and lost his place in the music, so he said “I’m going to start again.” And he started the whole thing over. I was panicking that I would run out of tape, but it turned out alright after carefully splicing all the tapes together.

Where did life take you after graduation?
I went into the Air Force, since at that time ROTC was required on campus. I flew for the Air Force for seven years and was shot down in Vietnam. After the Air Force, I went to work for the airlines and ended up flying for McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, which eventually became Boeing. I became an instructor pilot and test pilot on some very advanced commercial aircraft.

I also used my GI Bill to go to UCLA and study Film and Television ending with a Masters in Fine Arts. I would go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then fly for the airlines on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

What skills did you gain at UC Berkeley that were useful in your life or career?
As students, we really learned to be creative and inventive. Because we often had severe facility and equipment constraints, we had to make what we had work for us. Nothing was just handed to us, so I learned to be flexible. Also, I was a flight instructor for part of my career and that involved reading people. You have to know when to prod, when to use humor, when to be forceful. I think my experience in theater helped me to build connections and make quick assessments and direct people toward our mutual goals.

Does theater play a role in your life now?
You know, it’s hard to make money in theater unless you are really actively, consistently involved. So that wasn’t a life for me. But I do enjoy viewing live theater immensely. I live in Redondo Beach, south of LA, and we have great theater nearby to enjoy. Los Angeles, and even San Pedro, has lots and lots of little theater, as well as world-class music sources.

What is next for you?
Well, I’m retired. I do a lot of photography and it’s really fun now because digital photography is so easy compared to film. I spend time writing, consulting, and lots of traveling. I’ve been around the world four times and on all seven continents. My favorite country? Australia; if you listen closely, they do speak English and are very friendly to Yanks.

 

 

February 2016

February 2016 Student Spotlight: Sarah Stoker

Sarah is a junior majoring in theater and performance studies. She is currently co-creating the workshop “Politics of Spectatorship,” which will be performed at TDPS in March.

Sarah Stoker’s decision to come to UC Berkeley was influenced by a fish. A goldfish, if you want to be precise. Sarah was visiting Berkeley from her home state of Hawaii, trying to decide if Cal was a good fit for her, when she visited some family friends and noticed their fishtank. “There was this enormous goldfish in a large tank, way bigger than any goldfish I’d ever seen,” Sarah shares. “And I learned that a goldfish can grow much larger than you might expect, if you put it in an environment where it is allowed to do so.” Deciding that the same could be said of her, Sarah decided to take the leap from close-knit island community to Cal’s campus.

Though Sarah embraced and enjoyed new situations in Berkeley—joining the rowing team, becoming a reporter for CalTV, pursuing acting in TDPS—she sometimes felt lost in the large campus. “My sophomore year at Cal I felt very small. Coming from an island where everyone knows everyone, I was looking for community. I needed to take small classes where I could get to know my classmates and do life with them,” she says. Due in part to her decision to take small classes, Sarah ended up in a directing class with TDPS Professor Peter Glazer, where she discovered her passion for making “art about what I know.”

For Sarah, “making art about what I know is what I find at the intersection of theater and performance studies.” She is interested in working in solidarity with other artists to make people think and respond, valuing diversity, questioning exclusion and inclusion, and exploring her experience in the world. “When I say that I need to create art that I know, what I mean is that I want to tell stories that respond to my own life and personal experiences. I am not implying that I know everything!” she emphasizes. “ I have so much more to learn. And knowing that fact has held me accountable to keep learning, researching and asking questions. I’m so grateful for the resources and teachers here at Cal that are pushing me to keep growing.”

Currently, Sarah is drawing on her life experiences to co-direct the workshop Politics of Spectatorship with Lara Nupert, a University of Glasgow student who is studying at TDPS for the year. The two students first met at the TDPS Undergraduate Welcome last fall. Sarah says, “We sat on the floor of the Playhouse and ate popsicles and met everyone, and at some point Amara Tabor-Smith [a TDPS lecturer] told us to ‘look around you. You are seen and you see.’ That was the start,” Sarah recalls. She and Lara then discovered they had two classes together in the fall: directing and Performance and Culture, taught by Sima Belmar. “The class we had with Sima was great because it got us thinking about our lives through the lens of performance, but there was so much more we wanted to explore. We decided to create Politics of Spectatorship so that we could look closer at how we are seen and how we see others in society.”

Politics of Spectatorship is a work in progress. “Thanks to TDPS, we have three weeks to develop the piece, 7 cast members, and a space,” Sarah explains. Lara is interested in exploring how people are seen and see through the lens of gender, while Sarah is interested in how people seen and see through technology, and together they have discovered overlaps between those two frames. The two aren’t sure what the final product will look like yet, but they are clear that it will be a performance piece and not a play. They plan to refine the rest of the piece in rehearsals through the use of exercises, free writing, physical movement, memories, focused people-watching and sharing experiences with their cast. “Right now,” says Sarah, “we’re focusing on finding the right lens. We don’t want to get lost in possibilities, even though there are many, many questions.”

The workshop Politics of Spectatorship performs March 16-17 in Zellerbach 170. Admission is free, but capacity is limited.

 

February 2016

February 2016 Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Glynn Bartlett

Glynn Bartlett is the Scenic Artist at TDPS and is also a passionate puppet designer and builder. In November 2015, he traveled to South Africa to help design and construct puppets for the Barrydale Reconciliation Day Puppet Parade, an annual collaboration between the community of Barrydale in the Klein Karoo region and South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, known internationally as the creators of the “War Horse” puppets.    

THE LURE OF PUPPETRY

I’ve been interested in puppetry ever since I was a kid, probably since I was around 6 or 7. I was one of the first generations to be exposed to Sesame Street, which of course has Jim Henson’s muppets, and that was certainly an early influence. As I grew older I continued to have an interest in puppetry. In college, I took a puppetry class and built my first real marionette, and also made my first large-scale puppet for a production of The King and I. The director decided that it would be great if the evil King Simon of Legree was a traditional Thailand puppet, so I made this giant rod puppet, very simple, with a head suspended by a cable and then big hands on dowels. At the appropriate moment, the puppet rose up and the audience gasped.

Then my career turned more to set design and scenic painting, but every once in awhile I’d still make a puppet because I was interested in the artform. In 2008, I went to Burning Man for the first time. Since Burning Man is a participatory event and an artists’ event, I started to think about what kind of art I could contribute, and I realized it was puppets. Puppetry is a great form of art for engaging a whole community. That was probably the first time I’d done puppetry on a major scale, and it was a little overwhelming! Then around 2010 I started to delve into puppetry more deeply, in part because I moved to a new house that had room for a workshop where I could work. Last April, Handspring Puppet Company had a residency at TDPS [in partnership with Cal Performances] and I realized that puppetry is really my artistic passion.

THE BARRYDALE RECONCILIATION DAY PUPPET PARADE

At one point last year, I was talking about puppetry with Catherine Cole [TDPS Chair and Professor] and she said, “Maybe you should go to Barrydale,” which, at the time, I had never heard of. Every year Handspring works with the Barrydale community to make a puppet piece around Reconciliation Day. [Reconciliation Day, celebrated on December 16 is a public holiday that was instituted after the end of apartheid.] The local school kids are involved and participate in the piece, and there’s a parade beforehand where the puppets and performers go through the town.

I was blown away by what Handspring was doing in this small town in South Africa. So I started emailing members of the company that I had met when they were here at UC Berkeley to see if there was any way I could contribute. They were initially surprised by my suggestion but receptive, saying that they couldn’t contribute any money, but that if I could make my way to South Africa they’d love to have me work on the project. I replied, “This isn’t about money, this is about passion” and bought my plane ticket. I ended up helping design some of the puppets and worked on them for several weeks in Cape Town with Ukwanda Puppets and Designs Art Collective Company and then moved with the team to Barrydale to finish up building and have rehearsals before the performance.

“DIE NAME WAT ONS GEE”

(language adapted from the Barrydale Reconciliation Day Parade tumblr blog)

The 2015 Barrydale Reconciliation Day puppet performance Die Name wat ons gee remembers, honors and celebrates the ancestors of the Barrydale community, who were forced into slavery and indentured labour in the farming districts of the Cape in the 1800s. The story is narrated by ancient Tortoise to young Secretary Bird, who has forgotten how to fly. Tortoise takes Secretary Bird back in time to the Cape Colony where foreign-traded slaves were put to work under horrific circumstances. Amid the devastating losses of homeland, community, sacred names, belonging and humanity, a young slave woman and a Khoi man strike up a friendship in their shared dream of freedom. Through their heroic story of emancipation, Secretary Bird finds the courage to not only face the truth of her past, but to rewrite her future story.

Interesting note: PhD candidate in Performance Studies Joshua Williams was also present in Barrydale, serving as assistant director for the project. His article “Puppets and Politics in South Africa” gives more insight into the theme and meaning of this year’s performance and can be read here.

BUILDING A MASSIVE TORTOISE PUPPET

(from Glynn’s personal notes; language has been lightly edited and condensed)

 

November 26: Yesterday I started carving the tortoise head for our giant tortoise puppet for the Barrydale/Smitsville Puppet Parade. I got pretty far along with it. The foam assembly and carving process was done in about five to six hours. Although it’s not really necessary, I am hoping to create a moveable jaw so that the puppet will have an animated mouth for talking action. Today I hope to complete the carving and move on to the neck and four feet.

November 28: Yesterday Luyanda, Ned and I put our heads together and figured out an exciting neck control mechanism for our tortoise. The collaboration aspect of group art making is perhaps the most exciting part. It really feels great when everyone in the group gets to contribute to the idea pool to solve artistic problems together. Ned proposed this fantastic solution to allow us to retract the head of the tortoise, as well as allow it to turn from side to side. We figured out how to do all this and provide controls for animating the mouth as well.

December 2: Today turned out to be a great day at the factory. We made some great progress on Secretary Bird and Tortoise puppets. It’s really great getting to have whole uninterrupted days building puppets and having the time and the heads to help figure it all out. We are attempting to give our giant puppets some great opportunities for movement and along with this comes a whole lot of mechanical problem solving. Tortoise was a challenge at the start of the morning. A lot of work was done to stabilize the head and even with that, the head still felt unwieldy and heavy. Finally Ned suggested we do some foam removal in the cranium area. So I did that and was amazed at what a difference it made. Polystyrene seems so light until you get a good sized chunk of it hanging off the end of a pole. So I was feeling hopeful that this was going to work. I rummaged around in the aluminum scrap box and found what turned out to be the perfect ready made piece, which ended up saving lots of time. Then all that was left was to drill the hole into the PVC pipe for the pivot bolt to go through and then tie on the guide ropes that control the head movement from side to side. And then to my amazement it worked! We are well on our way to having an awesome giant tortoise puppet.

December 8: It’s amazing and interesting to be a part of a show and actually be participating in the production as it unfolds. Rehearsals and puppet assembly take place in the same garage on the Karoosee olive orchards and vineyards. I can’t imagine a more stunning place to be creative. Those of us creating the puppets are part of the process in real time; we get to actually see how well or not the puppets are working at the time they are used in rehearsal so we can problem solve as things come up. I wish this sort of proximity and part of the process could happen at home in the professional world. Alas, it is seldom practical or possible. But it’s pretty amazing to get to experience it in this particular setting.

December 10: Today was a day of rebuilding the neck for tortoise. Unfortunately our PVC and dowel did not hold up to the rigors of rehearsal. Ned and I were very busy from late morning into the afternoon getting tortoise’s head ready for this afternoon’s rehearsal.
THE PERFORMANCE COMES TO LIFE

The parade was magical. It starts in front of the Smitsville school and makes a loop around the town and back to the school. At one point in the parade, we rounded the corner of the road to head back and were greeted with an astounding view of the valley. Absolutely stunning. It actually brought tears to my eyes.
Once we got back to the school, we made our way to the play field behind the school. By this point the stone bleachers were completely filled with audience. It was incredible. I was asked, along with my fellow puppet builders, to help in the tortoise transition from horizontal to vertical.

We had a tense moment when the shell (that was tied on with twine) got knotted as the performers attempted to undo it. So we had a bit of worry and a delayed start as we fumbled and made do. The other fluke was an unexpected power failure for the lighting. This turned out to truly be a community event in that only one light was operational so surrounding cars provided side lighting with their headlights. It really added something special in the end and, as always, the show must go on!

In spite of the rough spots, I can’t imagine a more beautiful, energetic, and meaningful outcome than what we had that evening. At the end of the performance the audience was invited to come down, given “wings,” and everyone danced with the performers. Words can’t adequately describe the feeling, except to say it was absolutely magical. After all was said and done it was clear to me that all the energy and creativity put into the prior weeks of preparation, rehearsing, and puppet building all paid off in the end.

 

 

February 2016

TDPS Presents Chavez Ravine, Culture Clash’s Dynamic History of Community, Politics and Baseball

Berkeley, CA. This March, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies  (TDPS) presents the Bay Area premiere of Chavez Ravine, which brings to life a small Mexican-American community in 1950’s Los Angeles that became a target for political maneuvering and land acquisition—and the eventual home of Dodger Stadium. Written by Culture Clash, a zany Chicano performance trio, and directed by Sean San José, this fast-paced social satire incorporates music, vaudeville and multimedia to tell the true story of a courageous community fighting against displacement and urban power structures. Chavez Ravine plays March 4-13, 2016, with performances on Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM in Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office or at the door.

Chavez Ravine opens in 1981 at Dodger Stadium, where rookie Fernando Valenzuela is pitching the season opener. Just as he steps up to the mound, ghosts of Chavez Ravine residents appear, entreating him to remember the bulldozed community whose past lies buried under the stadium. Taken on a journey through time, we witness Chavez Ravine residents strive to keep their poor but vibrant immigrant community intact while a coalition of powerful political and financial interests attempts to defeat them using eminent-domain seizures, evictions, puppet politicians, anti-communist media hype, red-baiting and more. A cast of 18 brings to life dozens of dynamic characters, including City Housing Authority chief Fred Wilkinson, LA Mayor Norris Paulson, Maria Salgado Ruiz, a community activist and organizer; and The Watchman, a sinister figure wielding immense behind-the-scenes power.

With themes including gentrification, urban growth and planning, race and class divisions and community identity, Chavez Ravine is relevant to contemporary issues facing the Bay Area. “Loss of lineage, loss of neighborhood, loss of stories, loss of actual land—this is reality. It’s happened and is happening, not just in Los Angeles, but in all major cities,” San José explains. “This story makes us question growth. Is growth always great? Is construction always necessary? I don’t know the answer to that, but I have a strong opinion having grown up in San Francisco and seen neighborhoods destroyed or changed in the name of progress, modernization, and commerce.”

Chavez Ravine was written and performed by Cultural Clash, a Chicano performance group composed of Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza that has roots in San Francisco. “Culture Clash is a ground-breaking group born in the Mission District, where they performed jokes and stories that looked like their neighborhood and the Chicano movement in the eighties,” says director Sean San José, who has long been familiar with the group’s work. “Their work reflects the stories of people of color. It’s fast, funny, cacophonous. It looks at big topics: Race (with a capital letter), cultures clashing, the beauty and boldness in living a life that includes immigrant history and the restructuring of what ‘culture’ and ‘consensus’ mean in this country. And they do it in a way that both pokes holes in it and allows us to laugh at ourselves.”

TDPS’s production will be the first staging of Chavez Ravine not performed by Culture Clash, as well as the first in the San Francisco Bay Area. This unique opportunity was facilitated by San José’s relationship with Richard Montoya: “I knew Richard as a collaborator and so he trusted that I understood their aesthetic and respected their words.” With the creators’ permission, the TDPS production has been reworked for a cast of 18, consisting of: Stephanie Benitez, Eddie Benzoni, Clara Choi, Isabel Cruz, Jordan Maria Don, Ran Flanders, Katherine Garcia, Linda Giron, Carolyn Hu, Farryl Lawson, Julian D. Marenco, Veronica Maynez, Guillermo Ornelas, Ely Orquiza, Samuel Peurach, Isaac Ramsey, Ciclady Rodriquez and Sage Ryan.

Production Details

Chavez Ravine opens Friday, March 4 and continues through Sunday, March 13, 2016 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/chavez-ravine/ or at the door.

Chavez Ravine features scenic design by Michael Locher, costume design by Wendy Sparks-Rehl, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, sound design by Alejandro Acosta and projection design by Kwame Braun.

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About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Sean San José

Sean San José is co-founder of Campo Santo, the award-winning resident theater company of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. As the Program Director of Theatre for Intersection for the Arts, San José has also helped create and curate a new program called the Hybrid Project, formed to bring together artists of all genres, that merges differing and emerging styles of performance in order to find a new performance language. He also conceived the theater project Pieces of the Quilt, a collection of short plays confronting the AIDS epidemic, and organized and created the AIDS service arts organization Alma Delfina Group-Teatro Contra el SIDA to distribute funds and present benefit performances. As Founding Director of the organization he has commissioned pieces and presented plays in theatres, schools, libraries, clinics and community centers. San José has been awarded an Audrey Skirball-Kennis TIME Grant Award, a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commission, two residencies at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from the Wattis Artist Residency, a Bay Area Critics’ Circle Award, the DramaLogue Award, Backstage West, the Cable Car Award, and the Bay Guardian Goldie Artistic Achievement in Theatre Award. Productions he has conceived, created and produced have also garnered numerous awards in excellence, including: Bay Area Reporter Best of the Season, Cable Car Award, DramaLogue and Bay Area Critics’ Circle Award.

About Culture Clash

Founded in 1984 in San Francisco’s Mission District, Culture Clash is Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. They have become the most prominent Chicano/Latino performance troupe in the country, with work ranging from sketch comedy to an adaptation of Aristophanes, to the full length play Chavez Ravine, to co-writing Frank Loesser’s long lost musical Señor Discretion Himself based on a story by the legendary Bud Schulberg. For the last fifteen years, Culture Clash has been focused on site-specific theater, weaving personal narratives culled from interviews into an ongoing dramatic tapestry. Theater companies in Miami, San Diego, New York, Houston, Boston and San Francisco, among others, have commissioned Culture Clash to create performance pieces specifically for their cities. Their work gives immediate dramatic voice and expression to people in a certain time and place. It is theater of the moment, written and performed first for the people and communities on which it is based, and secondly for a broader audience.

Culture Clash is the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and grants, including a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Latino Spirit Award, the Los Angeles Hispanic Media Award, the Nosotros Golden Eagle Award for Outstanding Theater Group, The Liberty Hill Foundation award and dozens of city and state proclamations commendations. Their videos, short films and art exhibits have been shown at The Smithsonian; The Whitney Museum of American Art; Sundance Film Festival; The San Juan, Puerto Rico Film and Video Festival; The Art Institute of Boston; Palm Springs Film Festival; and The Los Angeles Film Festival, among others. Culture Clash has published several books of compilations: Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy, Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, and Oh Wild West.

January 2016 Alumnus Spotlight: Francis Pepper Tarson, ’48

2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. In honor of that anniversary we are reaching out to alumnus from each decade to share memories of their time in the drama department at UC Berkeley. Frances Pepper Tarson graduated from the University of California in 1948 with a major in Dramatic Arts.

Frances Tarson Pepper attended UC Berkeley from 1943-1948 and experienced firsthand the early years of the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, when it was then known as the Department of Dramatic Arts. Frances has a unique perspective of the time because, as she recalls, “The people that set up the department were Professor Durham and Professor Lehman from the English Department and Professor Pepper, my father, who was a professor of Aesthetics and chairman of the Art Department at that time.” Frances continues, “They hired Fred Harris and Henry Schnitzler to man the Department of Dramatic Arts. Those are the two people I started studying with—from Schnitzler I learned style and from Harris (and his wife Mary, who was an adjunct) I learned acting.” Frances was not what you would call a natural talent: “When I started it was clear that I didn’t know anything about acting. I was grateful for a chance to be taught to use the the qualities I have, since I needed an outlet for my emotions at that time in my life, and I found it in acting.”

Frances’s early years of college coincided with WWII, which meant there was a dearth of college-age men. As such, she recollects, “They did Journey to Jerusalem with an all-female cast, and I played Herod.” After taking a year off, Frances returned to UC Berkeley for her junior year, along with an influx of GI’s. “Those of us fresh from high school had the advantage of working with people who had been out in the world and were using their GI Bill to go to the University of California,” Frances remembers. “One of Fred Harris’s first shows was King Lear, and that was a very powerful show because most of the young men who were in it had seen war and knew its horrors.”

One particular moment during that production of King Lear became an unforgettable memory for Frances: “I was playing Goneril and a very talented man who had been overseas, Sam Levine, was playing Lear. Fred staged it on a very wide platform, and he had one of us on each side of the platform lit with blackness between us, then Lear tells Goneril that ‘Into her womb convey sterility./Dry up in her the organs of increase,That she may feel/How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is/ To have a thankless child.’…Sometimes an experience I had onstage was so powerful that it has become a primary memory, instead of just a memory of being in a play. Well, that moment is so real to me—even now—that it’s as though it had happened to me.”

King Lear was one of three major productions that took place each year at that time, all of which were performed in Wheeler Hall. As Frances points out, depending on who taught classes in Wheeler on Saturday mornings, the cast and crew would have to take the set down on Friday night and put it up again on Saturdays. “My father, who often had a class there, said ‘If I can’t keep the attention of my class in front of your set, then I’m not a very good professor,’ and he allowed us to keep our sets up,” recalls Frances with a laugh. “The sets were built in the bottom of Eshleman Hall. It was a cave, and half of it was full of costumes that were just thrown in there haphazardly. Sometimes when we had late rehearsal, the next day I would lie down on the costumes and sleep so I wouldn’t have to walk home for a nap.”

When Frances was a student, in addition to the Department of Dramatic Arts, there was also a trio of honor societies which drama students belonged to. As Frances explains, “You had to be in three major productions to qualify for Mask and Dagger, which was for acting. There was Thalian, which was for directors. And then there was Hammer and Dimmer, which was the society for those who worked backstage.” Of course, Frances belonged to all three.

But it wasn’t just the students who were acting in those days, Frances recalls. The University had something called The Drama Section, where the professors would get together and read a play. “They would carry the script, dress to the hilt and act to the hilt!” Frances doesn’t remember the Drama professors ever taking part, but plenty of other university professors participated. “In those days, particularly during the war, the West Coast rarely got any productions of the shows playing in New York. But we could get the scripts and read them and that’s the way we knew what was going on in New York and what was going on in the drama field.” Frances says, “I remember seeing one play where a professor was carrying a script printed out on various sheets of paper and it slipped out of his hand and fell to the floor. Everyone rallied round to pick up the script and it turns out his next line was ‘Oh No!’”

Frances’s most memorable role came when she played Catherine in The Heiress, a then-new play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. “That was probably the best thing I ever did,” says Frances. “I was directed by Mark Patterson and he invited Mary Harris, who was my coach, to come to the dress rehearsal. She came backstage afterwards and said ‘You have built a beautiful lamp but you haven’t turned it on.’ She gave me some very good advice, reminding me of things I already knew, and I turned it on. I think that’s the best thing I ever did since it was deeply and completely understood. And felt.”

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Frances moved to Washington to complete an MA in Drama at the University of Washington, and then joined the outdoor theater group The Mountaineers. “And then I started looking for a husband,” she jokes. “I went to Princeton and didn’t get one and so I went to Yale, where I was a secretary. There I met my husband in a play. It was Danton’s Death; I played Mrs. Danton and he played Robespierre and he killed Danton and married me!” It was an exciting time on the Yale campus, with talented young people like Dick Cavett, Carrie Nye, Austin Pendleton, Sam Waterston and the future director Peter Hunt as students. “The drama school had women but there were no women on campus so I was able to be in their plays and they were happy to have me there and surprised to find a secretary who could act!”

Frances willingly gave up her career to start a family, and is the proud mother of two boys. However, she could not let theater leave her life. She joined the Elmwood Playhouse, a 99-seat theater in Nyack, where Frances resides, that has been in existence for almost 70 years. “I’ve been a member of it for about thirty years, and my husband for forty years,” says Frances. The Playhouse puts on six shows a year, one of which is usually a musical. “We have extraordinary people working with us, very capable people and we put on tremendously good productions. That doesn’t mean that we don’t, every now and then, kind of groan and say ‘how do we get this one up and running?’ but it’s very interesting and exciting.”

Frances is so inspired by the work of the Playhouse that she even used her recent 90th birthday party as a fundraiser for the theater. “We advertised to theater members and my friends, inviting them to buy a ticket to my birthday party. You could make a donation of $15 for a card, $30 for my years of service, or $90 for my years of life,” Frances explains. “For the event, we put on a show, and I decided on the songs. After all the songs they interviewed me in the style of Inside the Actors Studio. And we raised, after expenses, over $8,000.”

For young people entering the theater world today, Frances has two pieces of advice. First, she says, “I once heard a very competent opera director tell students, ‘Look on your playbill. How many people are actors, and how many people are doing other important things to make the production?’ There are many opportunities if you are open to them.” And secondly, “If you love the theater, but find that professional theater is not what you want to pursue, remember that there are theaters in many, many communities and they offer a place to engage and share one’s love of theater.”

 

January 2016.

January 2016 Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Alan Read

Alan Read is the Department Chair of Theater at King’s College London, director of the Performance Foundation, author of numerous titles on theater, and writes and broadcasts for BBC Radio 4. In Fall 2015, he taught “Theater Capital” to Berkeley students in London as part of UC Berkeley’s Global Edge program. 

Global Edge is an exciting program where newly admitted Berkeley freshmen spend their first semester abroad in London while earning Berkeley credit towards their degree. Click here for more info.

“From the West End to Westminster Abbey and many performances in between, plus a pair of gold lamé boots”

We’re delighted to have you working with our Berkeley students in London. Can you tell us how you became involved in the Berkeley Global Edge program?

My esteemed colleague Professor Catherine Cole at UC Berkeley contacted me asking if I could suggest anyone in London who might take on this new program. Catherine and her team were looking for a class that met the rigorous standards and imagination of their own Berkeley theatre programmes. I did my PhD at the University of Washington in Seattle in the 1970s and had always looked south down I-5 with admiration for what Berkeley represented, not least of all in the performing arts. So, while pretending to think of other potential course leaders for this, I always knew I wanted to do it myself.

What does the “Theater Capital” course entail?

Theater Capital has a self-explanatory subtitle: Performance in London/London in Performance. King’s College London – Strand Campus (where I first developed the course) is at the heart of ‘Theatreland’ (the West End, a vibrant, highly-profitable center of world theatre), which offers untold opportunities. But I also want students to explore the broad spectrum of performance beyond these stages—from the performances evident amongst lawyers in the Royal Courts of Justice, to the ceremony on the street as part of the Lord Mayor’s annual procession, and amongst clergy in Westminster Abbey—events which are all a few minutes walk away from King’s College and the Berkeley base at ACCENT.

For the Global Edge program, I rethought the course with first-semester Berkeley students in mind: students whose initial engagement with the “Berkeley way” (of which I am a huge admirer) would be their London experience. I will leave it to my first class to spread the word of what they thought worked and did not, but over the semester of fourteen classes, four site visits and six performances we had a 95% attendance rate, which, given how easy it is to catch a cold during the fall in the London, was not bad.

Can you give us an overview of the semester?

It was a very full program of work. Before we even sat in class we were sitting in the The Purcell Room seeing Western Society performed by Gob Squad, one of Europe’s leading performance companies whose work combines media technologies, virtuosity of practice, contemporary themes and political forms of participation. Indeed only some of us were in the audience as within half an hour of the show Western Society starting, two members of the Berkeley group had been taken up onto the stage alongside six other audience members to participate in the second hour of the show.

Ivan He and Ruby Armstrong were integral to the performance and received a standing ovation alongside other members of the company. It is an honour as a professor of theatre to find that one’s first act of ‘assessing’ a student is as an audience member applauding those students to the rafters. They were courageous and funny, cool and clever, which is what I expected of Berkeley students, but did not expect to see manifested quite so soon on a prestigious London stage in front of a packed, cheering auditorium.

After this start, the course fell into place beautifully. There were 40 Berkeley students in the class, which made for a full and coherent classroom. Each Friday, we had three hours of concentrated study at the ACCENT base about the experiences we had of theater, and site visits to the Royal Courts of Justice, the Old Bailey, Tate Modern, and the 800th staging of the Lord Mayor’s Show. What we were aiming for was a rigorous introduction to performance in London without excluding the manifest ways in which the city itself is a Theatre capital, a constant churn of multifarious performances through which London establishes what it can be and do (and cannot do).

Our discussions also took seriously what was happening around us during the semester, including, for instance, considering the Paris atrocities at the Bataclan for what they were: a savage attack on the students’ own generation within what was a ‘theatre’ in the midst of a performance.  We worked on an idea that comes from a Parisian writer, Roland Barthes, that ‘texts’ are not just written things, but complex sign systems that exist in the world, within which ambiguous meanings are generated. Our task, following Barthes, was to reveal ways in which such performances can help us to understand our surroundings better, and of course to live more fully and justly within that world alongside others with very different understandings of that ‘same’ world.

In one assessment exercise, titled ‘Theatre Capital’, groups of five students each presented twelve images of the city that they had captured on their mobile phones, and analysed ways in which these images of urban life were saturated with performances.

If you cannot see the embedded performances that make up this image (other than the obvious image of the pan player to the right of the proscenium frame), then you might want to seek out a member of this class and ask them where the performances are, what they are, and why they make a difference to everything happening here. Or, you might want to come join next year’s Theatre Capital program in London – you would be welcome.

What other plays did the class see? Out of all the cultural opportunities in London, why these?

We were graced with a very fine season of theater this fall, and were brilliantly supported by Sara in the London ACCENT office who has a magic way of getting a large number of tickets for very hard-to-attend shows. For instance, we saw one of the first nights of Martin McDonagh’s (scriptwriter of In Bruges) celebrated play Hangmen at the beautiful Royal Court Theatre, which received 5-star reviews, and has since transferred to the West End to huge acclaim. We saw the new play Pomona, a dystopian drama exploring a void space in a city where something appalling is happening, staged at the National Theatre’s experimental space, The Shed. We then saw a classic work, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good on the huge Olivier Stage of the National, and to offset this spectacular political historical drama we spent an evening at the Young Vic with the amazing Belarus Free Theatre and their captivating production of King Lear. This company is in exile from their home country – threatened with incarceration or even death were they to return.

Now, I have seen many King Lears, but only one student within the group had seen a performance of the play, so this was a big call to introduce students to the Bard’s greatest work in this way (not at the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Globe). I knew it was really no risk as the Belarus Free Theatre artists are preeminent performers in world theatre and showed us why with a dizzying, coruscating staging of the play that, again, brought the audience to its feet. Two hours after the show ended, the Berkeley students were still in the auditorium, having downed Belarusian herring snacks brought to them by the company, discussing the relationship of the work to issues of gerontology with a specialist from a neurological centre in a London hospital. Intellectual stamina indeed – just what I expected.

Our final and sixth show was Wallace Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House. The group could not believe that Wallace Shawn, who has always acted in his own complex work, turned out to be the short, round guy from Gossip Girl. He is a brilliantly imaginative and scabrous writer, evidenced by this strangely topical play about a world in which theatre has disappeared and actors are either in long-running TV series or assigned to operate as marksmen deploying drones that execute people.

What was your impression of Berkeley students?

Well, I am missing them on Friday mornings. They brought the sun and extended summer well into fall. They were alert, focused, collegiate and supportive of each other in discussion.

I am a demonstrative teacher in front of a class and tend to talk quite a lot. But amongst this company I always felt that the commitment was to the experiences we had shared, and from the first night at Gob Squad’s Western Society I knew we would be fine. The show started with a clock to the rear of the stage counting through the digits of the last million years, in front of which entered two of the actors dressed in thigh high gold lamé boots – and nothing else. Since the ending of censorship in London theatre in 1968, no one turns a hair at such things on the London stage, and the group similarly took everything in stride – from being covered in liquids during Belarus Free Theatre’s King Lear, to discovering that the strange person sitting next to them in their underpants in Pomona was one of the psychopathic characters about to enter the scene. In short, Berkeley students seem to recognize that in the end, contrary to Shakespeare, all the world is not a stage, and that in performance there are very specific constraints that police the borders between theatre and life. It might be challenging but you are probably in as safe a place as you can be amongst theatre people. They’re not a bad lot.

With all these tremendous experiences, can you pin down what was, to you, the most exciting part of this course?

Spending the very last Friday of the semester sitting together on the floor of the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern amidst the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’ vast installation Empty Lot. We discussed whether the plants that surrounded us had any kind of parliament of their own, who might speak up for them in the current environmental crisis, and whether performance offered any rhetorics (modes of expression) that might help bring them close to the human collective.

The installation work, which had a strong ecological element, had, rather ironically, been funded by the car-maker Hyundai, which raised some interesting questions about arts sponsorship and Tate’s dependency on fossil fuel centered-funding. We were there helping them to kick the habit and were fully borne out by our commitment, some days later, when the Paris Climate Accord was eventually signed. The Berkeley students had great insights to offer weighing up the many sides of these challenging arguments.

Hearing back from each student over tea at the beautiful Wallace Collection later on that last Friday, before they left for home, of what it had meant to them to have this opportunity to be in London, to live and to learn, was more than a pleasure. Roll on next year.

 

 

 

January 2016

January 2016 Student Spotlight: Natalie Rutiezer

Natalie Rutiezer is a junior transfer student majoring in Near Eastern Studies and minoring in Dance and Performance Studies. She has studied Middle East and Central Asian dance for years and is currently the director of Adara Dance Company and UC Berkeley’s Central Asian and Middle Eastern Dance Company, Sorayya.

When Natalie Rutiezer arrived in Tajikistan last summer, she had memorized the Cyrillic alphabet and spoke some Persian, but knew she would rely most on the universal language of dance. Having studied Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance in the Bay Area for years, she embraced the opportunity to travel to a country she had studied and read about, and learn regional dances and their history firsthand from Tajik performers and teachers.

Natalie first became interested in Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance when she jumped into a Persian Dance class six years ago on a whim. She had taken jazz, hip hop, modern, ballet and belly-dancing previously, but this particular class sparked a whole new passion. “The music and dances were so beautiful,” recalls Natalie, “and I just became fascinated by Central Asian dance forms and the varied cultures that exist in these regions. There are some similarities between the classical dances because of Russian influences predating the post-Soviet states, but ultimately the many different regional dances are unique and distinct.” At the time, Natalie was taking a break from college in order to work and save money to transfer from San Francisco City College to UC Berkeley. “I worked and danced a lot during that six-year gap, and taught kids’ dance classes, fitness classes, and did silly things like dress up like a princess for birthday parties,” says Natalie. She also made time to start learning Persian and continued to pursue her interest in Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance, enrolling at UC Berkeley in 2014 as a major in Near Eastern Studies and a minor in Dance and Performance Studies.

Since most forms of Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance are passed down orally and through practice, from teacher to student, Natalie knew that travel would play an important role in her studies. “There’s not necessarily a lot of literature or scholarly writing about these dance styles, their techniques or their cultural significance,” Natalie says. “I want to create a base of knowledge for myself, and to share with others, and the way to do that is to travel there.”

Last summer, Natalie was able to expand that knowledge base by traveling to Tajikistan as  a 2015-2016 Haas Scholar, a distinguished award bestowed annually on 20 talented UC Berkeley undergraduates that comes with research support and financial funding. In Tajikistan, dance — the sweeping gestures of the body, the symbolism, the hand movements and fast ecstatic spins — is an integral part of ritual, tradition, and expression of daily life. Using connections forged in the Bay Area dance community, Natalie spent two months researching regional styles and variations of Tajik dance, including the Soviet-influenced style of Shashmaqam, the Badakhshan style and the Kulobi style. Based in the capital city of Dushanbe and staying with host families, she also traveled around the country to observe and practice. “There are so many regional dances, and it’s fascinating how different each one is from the other and how much there was to learn,” Natalie says of her trip. “All of my instructors in Tajikistan were very excited to teach me all they knew about their local dances,” Natalie adds. “Hopefully I will be able to give back by sharing my knowledge back here in Berkeley, and also bringing them here on a cultural exchange.”

Natalie is sharing the knowledge gained during her travels in several ways. She is currently the director of the UC Berkeley student-run dance company Sorayya: Middle Eastern and Central Asian Dance Troupe, and taught its members a Kulobi dance last semester. She also taught the DeCal course “Middle Eastern and Central Asian Dancing: Culture and Communal Dance Practice” in Fall 2015 and will teach it again in Spring 2016. Last semester the class focused on Turkish, Roman, Saidi and Persian classical dance, and also addressed Orientalism, the idea of “The East,” and how belly dancing is a Western interpretation of regional forms. “The DeCal students, a mix of dancers and non-dancers, initially struggled with the rhythms and complex steps of unfamiliar dances,” says Natalie, largely because the dances in these regions are often done with odd counts. “Normally Western dance works in counts of eight, but these dances work in sevens and elevens and nines.” To add a live music element to the class, Natalie brought in musicians to play and share their knowledge of the music and their own experiences of the dance.

In the long term, Natalie is interested in doing more scholarly work on Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance forms (she’s applied for a Fulbright fellowship to travel and research more), but currently is excited to focus on her own dance practice and her teaching. “I love teaching. I’m going to be teaching the DeCal course this semester, presenting a workshop on Cal day in April, and I’ll be part of TDPS’s Exploration of Forms Series in the spring,” she says. “It’s great to feel so supported by my Berkeley community and to feel that these dance forms have a place in this community and that people are interested in helping me share what I’ve learned.”

 

January 2016

December Alumnus Spotlight: Huan Dong, Class of ’07

Huan Dong, Class of ‘07, is currently a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He continually finds parallels between medicine and theater, and says that his theater training is helping him become a compassionate physician.

TDPS graduate. Kaiser Permanente Theater Program Performer Educator. HIV Prevention teacher in Tanzania. Medical student. While only 30, Huan Dong has an impressive resume, and a career path that’s encompassed many disciplines and taken him to multiple countries. Through it all, his love of theater remains constant, as has his passion to find the career that best suits his talents.

Huan’s love of theater began in elementary school and, despite his parents’ reservations about pursuing theater in college, he continued to perform onstage, dance on Lower Sproul, and work backstage at UC Berkeley. He knew he wanted to double-major, and studying Theater and Performance Studies was an easy choice. The other major was harder to pin down. Says Huan, “I have many different hobbies and had to find out what I wanted to learn more about and use as a foundation for a career and personal life in the future.” Huan first studied Astrophysics, then switched to Architecture, before finally settling on Integrated Biology. “My parents never really supported me in theater,” Huan relates, “but when I graduated with a double major and received the Mark Goodson Prize (for Distinguished Artistic Talent) they were very proud.”

During Huan’s last year at Cal, he volunteered in Vietnam as an English teacher and found theater games to be excellent teaching tools. “People who had studied English for years hesitated to speak it because they were nervous about mispronouncing words or using them out of context,” Huan explains. “I was adamant about them speaking English and used improv activities to encourage them to think on the spot.” While in Vietnam, he also volunteered at an orphanage and was recruited for a medical mission in the country’s rural hills. Huan recalls, “Even though I was just assisting and had no medical knowledge, I was touched by the experience. I realized how much impact you can have on the life of a person, and that began my path to medical school.”

After graduation, Huan’s interests in health and theater aligned when he became a member of Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre. The touring theater troupe performs shows for school-age children and other community members that address topics like obesity, non-violent conflict resolution, and STI and HIV prevention and education. “I utilized both majors (Theater and Biology), made an incredible impact on the community, and further invested in a career in health,” says Huan of this convergence of his passions.

Huan also drew from his theater background when he traveled to Tanzania with Support for International Change, a nonprofit organization that aims to limit the impact of HIV/AIDS in underserved communities. Huan educated students in Tanzanian villages about HIV in an effort to reduce stigma about the disease. To personalize the disease, he dug into his theatrical toolkit to create the fictional character of Kaka Bob:

“Many people refuse to get tested because they are afraid of what the community will think of them. I challenged that mindset by creating the character of Kaka Bob for my classroom (kaka means “brother” in Swahili). Kaka Bob sat in on the basic skills class I was teaching, becoming a friend to the students, and at the end of class he was tested for HIV and found out he was positive. This prompted a discussion about whether Kaka Bob was now any different, and how we could help him. The children rallied around Kaka Bob. The character was a powerful tool to start dialogue about fighting the stigma of HIV. I wouldn’t have thought to create, or been able to create, this character without my training at TDPS and my experience at Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater Programs.”

During the next phase of Huan’s career, getting a Masters in Human Nutrition and Metabolic Biology from the Institute of Human Nutrition of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, he also managed to include theater. To compliment his intense study, he joined the Bard Hall Players, one of the longest running and operating theater groups at a medical school in the country. There, he stage-managed, played Brutus in Julius Caesar (and also designed the lights), and choreographed a production of Urinetown.

Currently, Huan is a medical student at the special Charles R. Drew University—David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA program. Reflecting on his interview process before being admitted, Huan muses, “It’s interesting how in medical school applications and interviews, I ended up talking most of the time about my involvement with theater. Theater has given me the ability to empathize and connect with patients through universal human traits. That’s what’s going to help me to become a compassionate physician.”

As an MD candidate, Huan is still deciding on a specialty. “My first choice is infectious diseases because I enjoy investigating how the ecology of viruses and bacteria becomes our pathophysiology as they live in our bodies.” His second choice is Emergency Medicine, since, Huan ruefully admits, “I feel I am a very anxious person and tend to talk fast, but many of my friends in medical school say I stay calm under pressure and that’s why they think I should go into emergency medicine.”

Whatever specialty he chooses, he plans to connect to his future patients by utilizing the art of listening. “In theater we are taught to be in the moment. Performers actively pay attention to a character’s narrative and that’s exactly what you do in a medical office,” Huan explains. “Just as performers are vulnerable onstage, so are patients in a doctor’s office. When I interview patients as a medical student, even though I might be nervous, I am a sympathetic and active listener. In both performing and interacting with patients, you learn to listen and be in the moment with someone who is telling you their story.”

Active listening is not the only parallel Huan has noticed between medicine and theater. “In theater there’s months of preparation for one performance and in medical school we also prepare in detail for a surgery we may perform only once.” He continues, a bit surprised at how his two majors have matched up into a career, “We do all this preparation and everything comes to a pinnacle where you try to connect with an individual under the lights of the surgery room, or under stage lights. You are under bright lights, you have a team you have to trust and it’s an amazing dance of life.”

 

 

December 2015.

December Faculty/Staff Spotlight: Lisa Wymore

www.barbarabutkus.comAssociate Professor and Department Vice Chair of TDPS Lisa Wymore is Co-artistic Director of Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts with Sheldon B. Smith. Recently appointed artists-in-residence at ODC Theater San Francisco, they are working on their newest production “Zero Return.” Lisa’s interests lie in the intersection between technology and dance performance. Below, Lisa elaborates on her passions and her projects.

Can you tell us about Disappearing Acts?

Disappearing Acts is a collective with my husband and partner Sheldon Smith. We started the company in Chicago years ago and have been in the Bay Area since 2004. Over the years we’ve added a new collaborator, Ian Heisters (a technologist, dancer and improviser), and we often perform with James Graham (a TDPS alumnus) and Peiling Kao (a Bay Area dancer).

Sheldon and I founded the company because we were interested in layering video with performance. We engage with video, sound, and digital elements and also use Kinect cameras(1)  to look at gesture movement through space in three dimensions. Ian is a more formal computer programmer, and he uses programs like Open Sound Control and Python to build more complicated algorithms to expand our interactive performances.

Recently we did a piece called Number Zero: A Space Opera, a fun take on a group of people living in space after “the singularity”(2) takes place, where the human race is being partially controlled by computer interfaces and is deeply embedded in relationships with computer intelligence. The piece draws on sci-fi tropes used in iconic films such as Logan’s Run and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What project are you working on currently?

Well, out of Number Zero: A Space Opera came the score Zero Return (0⏎). The score is a program that takes our names, puts them in a cache, and uses an algorithm to draw them out and issue commands. For example, the program will say Ian, step into the space, and Ian will then create a series of movements in the space. Then the program says Return and Ian retraces his steps to his original place and attempts to re-perform the same set of actions. At any point the program can be triggered to have the performers start remembering their improvised movements; this is denoted by the command “Zero,” which acts like a kind of bookmark on the movement phrase. The “Return” command requires that the dancer return to the beginning of the movement phrase and repeat it using memory and sensation.

The program and algorithm change over time, eventually giving commands like Wrestle Sheldon to the floor or Lisa, go away or Ian, stand in a corner. We can tweak the voice of the computer so it can be kinder, or more dogmatic. The audience feels like the computer has intelligence or agency in the score, but it is only a series of algorithms.

We will perform Zero Return in Chicago this January for a durational performance that runs an hour; for reference, the original score was just ten minutes.  We are experimenting with how the score can evolve to include the audience so they understand it is not a memorized piece of choreography. We may even give the audience a chance to plug in commands throughout the script, or put their name into the cache so that they are called into the piece as well.

When did you first realize you wanted to incorporate technology into your work?

My mom is a visual artist (a photographer) and my father was an early adopter of the VHS camcorder, so I’ve been interested in visual images, film, and video technology since I was a kid. In graduate school I did a lot of video archival footage and taping for the graduate program at the University of Illinois and helped establish a program in video and video editing. After I graduated with my MFA, to make ends meet I starting taking archival videos for local dance groups and that’s when I met Sheldon. He had an interest in technology and photography, and was making electronic music. We started our video company, Superstar Productions, and did a lot of work with independent dance artists and theater artists in Chicago.

In the late 90’s, digital cameras became much more affordable. At the same time, new programs like Isadora and Final Cut Pro became affordable and available, and that’s when we started to incorporate moving images and dance together.

Earlier this year, you and Sheldon became artists-in-residence at ODC. Congratulations! What does that mean for your work?

Yes, Sheldon and I are ODC resident artists for three years and we are about six months in right now. We are currently working on ideas taken from Zero Return, and exploring body sensors, Fitbits(3) and other sensing technologies that process rhythms and habits of the body. We are thinking of data-tracking the audience to see how that intertwines with the story we are building, and creating a series of vignettes on the subject of human relationships and what is often called the augmented self.

As artists in residence, ODC gives support, helps us plan, provides administrative support, and supplies physical space.  Eventually we will co-present at one or two points in the residency. Disappearing Acts has never had a problem with creative ideas. In order to expand, what we need are the underpinnings of it, the administrative aspect. Now, with ODC support, we are planning a fundraiser, we are getting an intern, and we are building up our infrastructure. It’s great to have a supportive moment to work on the company.

It’s common for theaters of ODC’s size to have a residency program but they are usually six months or a year instead of 3 years. So special thanks to Christy Brolingbroke, the Deputy Director for Advancement at ODC, for being fantastic and visionary.

Can you give us insight into what to expect from Berkeley Dance Project 2016, which you are directing in the spring?

In addition to directing the entire program, I am choreographing a piece for the concert as well. For that piece, I will be working with 5-7 dancers from TDPS and collaborating with Berkeley alumnus and sculptor Bruce Beasley, as well as Ian Heisters from Disappearing Acts. We plan to project large rings, based on Bruce Beasley’s sculptures, that the dancers will interact with. There will be sensors in the dancers’ costumes tracking their movements and those monitors will be coordinated with the rings; so these beautiful large projections will be tied to human motion. Ursula Brown, a Ph.D. candidate in New Media and Music, will perform live music and the sound will be processed and spatialized in relationship to the dancers’ movements. Essentially, everything will feel very alive in relationship to the rings and the motion in the room.


1. Kinect cameras can recognize users and track their movements in 3-D. They can also interpret specific gestures and voice commands, allowing for hands-free control of electronic devices.
2. The technological singularity is a hypothetical event where technology evolves beyond our understanding, and the capacities of the human brain are surpassed by artificial intelligence.
3. A Fitbit is a small wireless-enabled wearable device that can track one’s activity, measuring data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep, stairs climbed, and other personal metrics.

 

December 2015.

December Student Spotlight: Karin Shankar

KarinWebKarin is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies. She recently launched P[art]icipatory Urbanisms, a web-based publication that examines the intersections between performance, urban environments and politics.

Karin Shankar’s interest in cities can be traced to growing up in Mumbai, a city with a population of about 20 million, the biggest film industry in the world, and a vibrant tradition of theater. This early introduction to the intersection of performance and city life was the seedling for Shankar’s latest endeavor, the web-based publication P[art]icipatory Urbanisms. Says Shankar, now a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, “The interdisciplinary study of cities today is so important. We live in a moment in which the world is more urban than ever before. As a scholar, I’m passionate about thinking about many aspects of urban space—the impact of rapid urbanization, public art and performance, marginalized spaces in the city, raced and queer spaces, and power and networks in the city…Performance is a very useful lens to think about these issues.”

P[art]icipatory Urbanisms began when Karin and her collaborator Kirsten Larson, a graduate student in Architecture and City Planning, were awarded a grant from the Mellon Foundation’s UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative to create and edit the publication. The two scholars decided to focus on the metropolises of New Delhi, India and São Paulo, Brazil due to their similar size and positions in the global urban imaginations, the histories of participatory urban activity in both spaces, and for their own personal and research connections in the two cities.

In the summer of 2014, Karin traveled to New Delhi and Kirsten went to São Paulo to interview participatory urban practitioners and collectives, including urban NGOs, performance and art collectives, journalists, city planners and builders, activists, waste-workers, educators and graffiti muralists. Karin says, “We wanted to see the various ways in which people defined and practiced ‘taking part’ in their cities, across the realms of art and politics in both these spaces.” She continues, “Our interviewees spoke of their incredibly creative and political urban initiatives, [ranging] from mobile performances of poetry and theater, to citizen journalism on gentrification, to radical neighborhood education initiatives. In São Paulo, for instance, a feminist dance collective, Coletivo Pi, is exploring how to create ‘urban kindness’ through movement and dance works in the city.”

After returning to UC Berkeley, Karin and Kirsten began to compile and condense their materials. P[art]icipatory Urbanisms officially launched in October 2015 and is comprised of two components. The first is an online bilingual (Brazilian Portuguese and English) publication of twenty interviews from São Paulo and New Delhi. To show connections between the cities, the interviews are formatted as a diptych—two interviews, one from each city, are laid side by side. Karin explains, “In visual art, a diptych is often used to extend the canvas, and draw parallels between two sides. We chose this conceptual format so that readers and interviewees from the two cities could form unexpected connections, and see productive relationships in the various art, performance and activist initiatives across the two cities.”

The second component of the project is a peer-reviewed anthology of scholarly articles on the themes of urban participation and its relationship with politics and aesthetics. After putting out a call for submissions, Karin and Kirsten received over 70 contributions from emerging and established scholars within the US and from across the globe, and ultimately chose 18 for the publication. The research articles address a variety of current topics, including the occupation of a theater in Athens during the Greek economic crisis, the ‘right to housing’ protests in Madrid and Rome, and Black urban studies and its relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The online publication, and the accompanying limited print-run, of P[art]icipatory Urbanisms was received well, with over 4,500 hits on the website in the first week and academics writing in to say they will refer to the anthology as a resource for classes on public space, urban performance and activism. In addition, the publication facilitates creative exchange and advocacy for the interview participants. Explains Karin, “The groups in São Paulo and New Delhi will be using the publication in their advocacy initiatives—which is important to us as we wanted the publication to be useful. They are also enthusiastic about making connections with artists and activists in their own city, as well as from this other city, 9000 miles away, that is facing similar urban challenges.”

Karin will be graduating this spring and is currently hard at work completing her dissertation, which examines the work of five contemporary artists and performers in New Delhi and looks at how they offer aesthetic tools to contemplate rapid urban change. Karin’s experience with P[art]icipatory Urbanisms is informing her dissertation, and has also opened new research avenues and provided practical experience in editing an anthology. Reflecting on what she learned from the project, Karin says, “Seeing the ideas that emerged from the interviews was inspiring. In the anthology, we got to work closely with 18 authors. Aside from learning about their compelling research, we learned so much about the editorial and publication process. This was a wonderful experience of collaborative scholarship.” Though the online anthology may be complete, Karin has no plans to conclude her research: she and Kirsten are thinking about curating an exhibition based on P[art]icipatory Urbanisms in São Paulo next fall.

View P[art]icipatory Urbanisms

 

December 2015.

BIG GIVE is happening right now – November 19th!

BIG GIVE 2015 is happening now! Make your gift to the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies today – Thursday, November 19th, 2015

 

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The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies is a home for creativity, a stage for performance, a platform for engagement and a launchpad for innovative research. Here, our students develop the confidence, abilities and communication skills necessary to succeed in any path they choose. Some will go on to become professional actors, dancers or designers; some will become respected researchers; some will work in other fields but all will be enriched by the experience of creating, sharing and studying performing arts.

We are constantly striving to better serve our students. Every dollar donated to TDPS goes directly to bringing together the best academic and performance opportunities for our students: creating a unique place where research meets practice and public engagement.

Your gift will help us support students’ artmaking, provide scholarships, host workshops, and bring distinguished visiting artists from around the world to work with our students. Your tax-deductible donation will also help us continue to keep our ticket prices low, allowing the entire Bay Area community to experience great theater and dance at an affordable price.

BIG GIVE is a 24-hour campus-wide fundraising campaign where alumni, parents, students and YOU can show your support for UC Berkeley.

If you have never donated before, please consider a gift of $20 (or more!) to TDPS – a little goes a long way.

If you have donated before, we would like to thank you again, and ask you to renew your commitment.

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November Faculty Spotlight: Shannon Jackson and Angela Marino release new books

9780262029292Shannon Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design, TDPS Professor and the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Chair in the Humanities, has just released The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater, a new critical retrospective of the award-winning intermedia theater performance company The Builders Association, together with the company’s artistic director and founder Marianne Weems.   

What inspired you to write The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater?

I learned about The Builders Association when they performed in San Francisco at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. I met Marianne Weems, the artistic director, and she discussed how much she enjoyed working in the creative landscape of the Bay Area. I was Chair of TDPS at the time, and we were able apply for an artist residency program at the Arts Research Center. In that residency the Builders created the first version of a show called Continuous City; this was a piece about digital connection in a globalizing world. It ended up being a collaboration that involved students from across the campus and TDPS students served as primary actors in technical theater and design.

Having The Builders Association in residency made me realize how much research they did toward every show and how deeply they were experimenting with the theatrical apparatus. When Marianne mentioned she’d been talking to different editors about a book on the Builders, and asked obliquely whether I would do it, I jumped at the chance.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

I hope readers get a sense of how hard these artists work at the arguments and aesthetics of their pieces. When we designed the book we looked for terms that gave readers a sense of theater-making as a process of construction: “R&D,” “Operating Systems,” and “Storyboard.” The Builders deeply research every topic, whether it is ethnographic work, archival work, or secondary literature reading. They think imaginatively about technology and new media systems as artistic forms; they are a theater company that uses new technology and also provokes reflection and debate about the role of technology in our lives.  I also hope that readers come to an understanding of the courage and perseverance required to sustain a company over different iterations for 20 years. It takes a great deal of labor and personal sacrifice, commitment, friendship and love to sustain an artist group.

What was the most intriguing fact/story you uncovered while working on the book?

What’s interesting about The Builders Association is that they are billed as a “new media” performance group, yet what’s really striking is how much of their theatre is about investigating “old media.” The excavations of 19th century popular culture, early cinema and the “cinema of attractions” have all inspired the Builders’ sense of what theatre can be now. In a climate where we wonder and worry about new media evacuating the essence of our art forms, the Builders recognize that technology has been embedded into the deep history of theatre — and embedded into all art forms  —  for centuries.

 

To get your copy of The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater, visit here.

 

December 2015.

51zD6Qem1tL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Angela Marino, Assistant Professor at TDPS, will release her new book Festive Devils of the Americas in December. Edited with Milla Cozart Riggio and Paolo Vignolo, Festive Devils of the Americas is the first volume to present a transnational and performance-centered approach to this fascinating, feared, and revered character of fiestas, street festivals, and carnivals.

What inspired you to write Festive Devils of the Americas?

For me, inspiration came from collaboration. Once I knew that others were working on this fascinating figure of the devil in performances all over the hemisphere, it almost felt like I had to write this book. I was at a conference in Bogota Colombia, dedicated entirely to research on fiestas and carnival in Latin America, and it was then that I proposed the idea to Zeca Ligiéro, one of the preeminent scholars in performance studies at the Universidade de Rio de Janeiro in Brasil, and Paolo Vignolo who was just then getting tenure at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. From there the book grew, over several encounters with Zeca and Paolo and Milla Riggio who would later become a co-editor. Collaboration fuels inspiration, which I think is also much of what makes up the fiesta experiences in which the devils are performed.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

My hope is that readers of this book come away with a genuine appreciation for how large-scale outdoor, public performance practices like festival, fiesta and carnival can be a source for healing the very real violence of devil-beliefs and so-called evil. The devil as an embodiment of evil was always a political strategy to demoralize an adversary, take over land, and justify war. People were associated with the devil figure in a deeply racist and imperialist ideology over centuries in this hemisphere and beyond, and to think that these cultural, political, spiritual and economic consequences have not taken their toll to the present day is to underestimate or ignore the impact of our social world. In many ways, the devil figure in festive performance is a way of exposing these histories and also healing from them. In the fiesta there is a communal production that transforms fear into familiarity, creativity and marvel.

What was the most intriguing fact you uncovered while working on this book?

One of the most intriguing things to learn is how important a figure like the festive devil is for telling afro-descendant, indigenous and Jewish histories. These were the groups who were most often performing devils; it was not the Spanish-blood white elites of Latin America. People were at times forced or cajoled into the role, especially during the Inquisition; at other times there were incentives and very often favors that were issued through the Church. Despite the friars’ belief that some didactic ‘bad’ would stick to the performers, the devil performances grew to become extraordinarily popular by virtue of the songs, instruments, costuming and movements that were important to those who produced them. As they grew in popularity, they carried with them all of these forms and styles, from the steps of the dancers, a particular way of making or wearing the masks, the rhythms or percussion of the music and so forth. Now the devils easily upstage the priest in some of these performances.

 

For more information, visit festivedevils.org. To preorder your copy, click here.

November Alumnus Spotlight: Doug and Cessna Kaye, Class of ‘70

TheKayesDoug and Cessna Kaye met and fell in love in the UC Berkeley Drama Department (as it was called then). They graduated in 1970, Cessna with her masters degree and Doug with his bachelor’s degree, and have been together ever since. Below, the couple shares about their experiences at Berkeley, their love of theater arts and the ways in which a theater degree can positively influence every aspect of a career arc.   

What is the strongest memory of your time at UC Berkeley?

Cessna: Oh my goodness there are so many! I hardly know how to answer that. From a classroom perspective it was a bit daunting, because I had taken a few years off before getting  my masters at Berkeley. The classes were challenging and exciting.

Doug: Mine was meeting Cessna.

Cessna: We met in directing class. Doug asked me out to a party that he and his roommate were throwing and that was it. We’ve been together ever since.

Doug: Let’s see, I won the [Roslyn Schneider] Eisner Prize for Continuing Creative Achievement in 1969 or 1970. That was exciting.

Cessna: I want to add that the time we were going to Berkeley was when People’s Park was erupting and there was tear gassing from helicopters and such. It was quite a turbulent time.

Can you tell us a little bit about where life took you after graduation?

Doug: After graduation, Cessna worked in the ACT costume shop at the Geary theater in San Francisco and I worked next door at the Curran, as a stagehand for the local union. A year later, in the summer of ‘71, we moved to NYC where I went to grad school for film and television. Cessna pursued acting and we got stuck there for 13 years. [They now live in Marin County.]

Over a period of years Cessna left acting and went into nursing. I produced a few films and together we produced a documentary. I worked in television and news as a sound man, covering the Senate Watergate hearings and then went into the computer software business. I was a CEO for many years and then decided to work my way down the corporate ladder. [Laughs] I got very involved in the early days of podcasting, ran a number of podcasts and developed a non-profit podcast network. Life’s never been boring!

How did the skills you acquired from studying theater apply to your careers?

Cessna: A theater background is excellent preparation for an adult life. It informs the way I look at the world, from learning very practical stuff—how to build a set, use a hammer and nail, and change a plug on a light—to learning about the world. I learned about the world through drama and I learned about world history and different ways of thinking through dramatic art history. It’s part of who I am.

I found that nursing, like theater, is very much about working as part of a team and being responsible for your part. It’s not just one person on their own; you are working together toward a common goal. When I put on my nursing uniform, it was similar to putting on a costume. There’s a transformation that takes place when you’re getting into character, and I would get that same feeling when I got ready for the day. Similar to theater, I knew that the role I was about to play as part of a team was important.

Doug: Because I worked in the technical side of theater, to me it’s all a continuation. I was a technical theater person, doing sound and lighting design, then moved into directing film. Filmmaking was always a relatively technical process for me (and maybe that’s why I didn’t stay in filmmaking). Then I worked with computer software, which is technical, and now do photography, which has technical elements. It’s been a continuum really.

What are you spending your time on these days?

Cessna: For me, my nursing career morphed into what is known as complementary care, or care that goes along with western treatments. I perform a form of Japanese acupressure, called jin shin jyutsu, working one on one with patients that are dealing with cancer. Jin shin jyutsu helps them deal with the western treatments they are receiving, whether it’s surgery, chemo, or radiation. The jin shin jyutsu helps them tolerate treatment and recover more quickly.

Doug: About 2009, I went back to photography which was an old passion of mine. Since then I’ve been a nonstop photographer. I now teach quite a bit of photography and photoshop, and I lead photo tours to Cuba. [Doug is currently in Cuba on his fourth photography trip to the country.] I have a trip in November and then another in January with a group of students. I refer to myself as a full-time amateur photographer. That’s become a new passion for me.

Cessna: When talking about retirement and Doug, the two words are never said in the same universe.

What role do the arts play in your lives currently?

Doug: It’s in our blood. It is literally the foundation of our relationship as a couple. And even though we are not professionally involved in theater currently, we have always felt close to it. We go to New York frequently and see shows there; we see shows around the Bay Area.

Once you have worked with a group of people in drama, it’s an experience you never forget. Just that experience of collaboration and camaraderie and what it takes to put on a production and the appreciation of everything—from playwriting to directing to working as an usher—every little bit of it is something you relate to if you have ever worked in theater.

Cessna: I just can’t imagine theater not being a part of my life. It influences how I see the world.

As donors to TDPS and other theater organizations, what motivates you to support the arts financially?

Cessna: We really believe in supporting education and the arts, specifically the performing arts. That’s our big passion.

Doug: The apparent decline of support for the arts is something that makes us sad. With shifts in emphasis in education, it seems like academics are doing fine and sports are high on the donation sphere, but all of the arts seem to be suffering. And it’s sad, because in drama, you are exposed to performing arts, to written materials, to theater, to dance, to the visual arts. Performing arts really gives you the broadest background in the arts you can possibly get.

So that’s the reason that we donate to the arts. It’s obviously our personal connection to it, but it’s the importance of the arts in general.

 

November 2015.