Berkeley Repertory Theatre is presenting the world premiere of the new emotional family drama Aubergine, written by Julia Cho and directed by Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone. This will be the first production presented on the newly renovated Thrust Stage and the second world premiere of the 2015-16 season, following Amélie, A New Musical. Aubergine is the story of an estranged son, his ill father, a visiting uncle carrying their memories in tow, a woman without an appetite, and a refugee from a forgotten country. These characters prove potent ingredients in this bittersweet and moving meditation on family, forgiveness, and the things that nourish us. When language fails, when the past fades, the perfect meal transcends time and culture and says more than words ever can.
Commissioned by Berkeley Rep and developed in The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, Aubergine begins previews Friday, February 5 and runs through Sunday, March 20, 2016. Press night will be held on Friday, February 12, 2016. Individual tickets start at $29 and can be purchased by phone at 510 647-2949 or online at berkeleyrep.org. The Berkeley Repertory Theatre Thrust Stage is located at 2025 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704.
“Aubergine is a deeply moving play that expresses our capacity for desire and loss” says Taccone. “Using food as a powerful touchstone that connects us with our past, Julia Cho has found a unique way to tell a story that explores the complexities of family, memory, and healing.”
The cast for Aubergine includes Safiya Fredericks (Diane),Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lucien),Tim Kang (Ray), Jennifer Lim (Cornelia), and Joseph Steven Yang (Ray’s uncle). And returning to the Berkeley Rep stage in the role of Ray’s father is longtime Bay Area favorite Sab Shimono. Shimono has appeared in several Berkeley Rep productions, including Yankee Dawg You Die (1989), The Ballad of Yachiyo (1997), and Last of Suns (1995). “Sab Shimono is a larger than life character,” says Managing Director Susan Medak. “All of us here at Berkeley Rep are ecstatic that he is returning.”
The creative team includes Wilson Chin (scenic designer), Linda Cho (costume designer), Jiyoun Chang (lighting designer), Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen (sound designers), Aaron Rhyne (projection designer), Madeleine Oldham (dramaturg), Leslie M. Radin (stage manager), and Amy Potozkin (casting).
“I am so honored that Aubergine will make its world premiere at Berkeley Rep,” says Cho. “Family dramas are nothing new, but there aren’t too many with a specifically Asian American context and point of view. I am grateful to Berkeley Rep for bringing Aubergine to a wider audience.”
The Los Angeles Times says, “[Julia Cho is] on many theater hot lists thanks to a reputation for crafting intricate, often poetic pieces that blur the lines between fact and fiction.”
Julia Cho’s plays include The Language Archive (Susan Smith Blackburn Award), The Piano Teacher, Durango, The Winchester House, BFE, The Architecture of Loss, and 99 Histories. They have been produced in New York at Roundabout Theatre Company, the Public Theater, Vineyard Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and New York Theatre Workshop, and regionally at Long Wharf Theatre, South Coast Repertory, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and many others. Cho studied playwriting at Amherst College, New York University, and the Juilliard School, and was a member of New Dramatists. Her play Office Hour will premiere at South Coast Rep in April 2016.
Safiya Fredericks (Diane) is making her Berkeley Rep debut. She has most recently been seen in Idris Goodwin’s West Coast premiere of Blackademics at Crowded Fire Theater, and as the Witch in Into the Woods at SF Playhouse (BATCC nominee). Her other work has included Once on This Island (Asaka) at TheatreWorks,Merry Wives of Windsor (M. Page) at African-American Shakespeare Company, and the titular role inAntigone at San Jose Repertory Theatre. She has also been featured in the Civilians’ production of In the Footprint, By Hands Unknown at the New York International Fringe Festival, and Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge with the Gallery Players. She appears in the film America is Still the Place, currently making festival rounds, and she can also be heard as the voice of PBS’ Independent Lens. She studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and received her BA in Drama from the University of California, Irvine. Learn more at safiyafredericks.com.
Performances are Tuesdays and Fridays @ 8:00 PM, except March 15, Wednesdays @ 7:00 PM, Thursdays @ 8:00 PM; 2:00 & 8:00 PM on 2/18 and 3/17, Saturdays @ 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM; 8:00 PM only on 2/6 and 2/20, and Sundays @ 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; 7:00 PM only on 2/7. No performance on Tuesday 03/15
ABOUT THE GROUND FLOOR: BERKELEY REP’S CENTER FOR THE CREATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF NEW WORK
As the umbrella for all new play activity at Berkeley Rep, The Ground Floor is a bold initiative designed to raise the bar on the Tony Award–winning nonprofit’s already successful record of artistic innovation. Think of it as an incubator for theatrical start-ups or a top-notch R&D facility for artists. The Ground Floor is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts; Bank of America; the Kenneth Rainin Foundation; supporters of Berkeley Rep’s Create Campaign; and ArtPlace, a collaboration of top national foundations; the National Endowment for the Arts; and various federal agencies to accelerate creative place making across the U.S. For more information on each project, and for future announcements or opportunities to interact, visit berkeleyrep.org/groundfloor.
ABOUT BERKELEY REP
Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed nearly 400 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – which include the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. Learn more at berkeleyrep.org
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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