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Culture, Stage Block and Tackle: Berkeley Rep Docudrama Asks If Football Is Worth the Pain It Brings to Its Players.

Block and Tackle: Berkeley Rep Docudrama Asks If Football Is Worth the Pain It Brings to Its Players.

The ferocity of pro football drives the narrative but ultimately gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage in Berkeley Repertory's world premiere docudrama, X's and O's (A Football Love Story). Despite a sturdy cast and the talents of playwright KJ…
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Culture, Stage All the Feels: Two Plays That Are Sentimental But Not Saccharine

All the Feels: Two Plays That Are Sentimental But Not Saccharine

As director Susannah Martin points out in the program for Shotgun Players' production of Our Town, many theatergoers dismiss Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 drama as "a quaint piece of sentimental claptrap." Even when it's not getting butchered by high…
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Culture, The Exhibitionist "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins": Celebrated Actress Kathleen Turner Plays Political Journalist

"Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins": Celebrated Actress Kathleen Turner Plays Political Journalist

Two-time Tony and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner has extensive film credits including Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor, Peggy Sue Got Married, Jewel of the Nile The Accidental Tourist, John Waters’ Serial Mom, and Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Turner has…
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Culture, Stage Environmental Studies: PlayGround's Inventive Playwriting Series Opens with a Question That Plagues Us All: Are We Totally Screwed?

Environmental Studies: PlayGround's Inventive Playwriting Series Opens with a Question That Plagues Us All: Are We Totally Screwed?

The primary reason the Earth is fucked is largely due to people who think of themselves as one, instead of one of many. Or so say the six playwrights chosen to splash down on the Berkeley Repertory Theatre stage for…
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Culture, Stage Looking Back in Protest: Two Revolutionary Movements Reunite in the Moving <i>Party People</i>.

Looking Back in Protest: Two Revolutionary Movements Reunite in the Moving Party People.

It's grim, difficult to watch, and doesn't entirely coalesce until Act Two, but everyone should see Party People. It's not perfect theater, but it's extremely good theater that speaks to inter- and intra-racial violence, income inequality, government surveillance, and divided…
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Culture, Stage Listen Up: Berkeley Rep Sounds Off on Deaf Culture and Family Dysfunction

Listen Up: Berkeley Rep Sounds Off on Deaf Culture and Family Dysfunction

Words are everywhere and nowhere in Berkeley Rep's Tribes. Bound in the books spilling off scenic designer Todd Rosenthal's towering bookshelves, splashing themselves in subtitles across the set, pouring out in a cacophony from the verbose British family around which…
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Culture, Stage The House Edge: Berkeley Rep and Aurora Stack the Decks Against Their Audiences

The House Edge: Berkeley Rep and Aurora Stack the Decks Against Their Audiences

A kerchief-laden servant. Three sisters of varying degrees of goodness and shades of pigmentation. An older, housebound woman who's lost her mind but has a direct line to the dead. And a heroine forced to choose between autonomy and community,…
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Culture, Stage Short Russian Dramas: Berkeley Rep Uses the World's Most Famous Dancer to Tell Some Chekhov Tales

Short Russian Dramas: Berkeley Rep Uses the World's Most Famous Dancer to Tell Some Chekhov Tales

Two shadowy, seductive short stories by Russian author Anton Chekhov are the heartbeat of Man in a Case, the arresting production running at Berkeley Repertory Theatre through Feb. 16. Adapted and directed by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Big Dance Theater's Annie-B Parson…
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Culture, Stage Visions of Madness: Unsentimental Magic From Berkeley Rep and Shotgun Players

Visions of Madness: Unsentimental Magic From Berkeley Rep and Shotgun Players

The Bay Area has long been in love with Kneehigh, the theater company imported from Cornwall, England, by ACT for Brief Encounter in 2009 and by Berkeley Rep for The Wild Bride in 2011. Both shows used lavish theatricality —…
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Culture, Stage Holiday Theater: Audio-Visual Magic in Berkeley and Marin

Holiday Theater: Audio-Visual Magic in Berkeley and Marin

For theater companies, the holiday season can be less "good will toward men" than "notorious conundrum." This time of year is one of the most difficult parts of a season to plan. Ticket sales have the potential to surge, with…
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Culture, Stage "Emotional Creature": Eve Ensler's World of Girls

"Emotional Creature": Eve Ensler's World of Girls

As Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone has it, playwright Eve Ensler "is dedicated to this almost antiquated notion that theater can change lives." Remarkably, her 1996 play The Vagina Monologues did just that. It launched a campaign called V-Day…
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Music, All Shook Down Theater Review: 'Girlfriend' (Based on Matthew Sweet LP) at the Berkeley Rep

Theater Review: 'Girlfriend' (Based on Matthew Sweet LP) at the Berkeley Rep

Better than: A Matthew Sweet album turned into a play about heterosexuals. Random detail: Saw author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) in the audience. Full disclosure: Before this week, I had never listened to Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend. Some…
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Music, All Shook Down Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" Turned Into Berkeley Rep Musical

Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend" Turned Into Berkeley Rep Musical

Turning Green Day's American Idiot into a musical worked out well for Berkeley Rep's image across the country, and now the prestigious theater company is hoping to turn the work of another (albeit much lesser known) pop icon into a…
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Music, All Shook Down Berkeley Rep Continues Broadway-Bound Streak with American Idiot

Berkeley Rep Continues Broadway-Bound Streak with American Idiot

I wasn't crazy about Berkeley Rep's latest offering, but there's no denying that the company is a leading developer of nationally significant plays. Sarah Jones's Bridge & Tunnel made its way from the Rep to Broadway in 2006, followed by…
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Music, All Shook Down 'American Idiot' Tickets: Get on Facebook, Get Yours Early

'American Idiot' Tickets: Get on Facebook, Get Yours Early

It's no exaggeration to say that the premiere of Green Day's American Idiot musical next month is a highly anticipated event. To have the work of one of the biggest rock acts of the Bay Area reinterpreted for the theater,…
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Music, All Shook Down Green Day gets all "Mamma Mia!" at BRT

Green Day gets all "Mamma Mia!" at BRT

If the soon-to-be-inescapable buzz around Green Day's upcoming album, 21st Century Breakdown wasn't loud enough, the East Bay boys jaded punx love to hate (and the music industry bows down to as one of its few remaining commercially-viable acts) have…
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