The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work seeks to enhance and expand the processes by which Berkeley Rep makes theatre. We strive to offer the most flexible environment possible for artists to come together and share ideas in person, to receive customized support on each individual project and to work together across disciplines. We will maintain an ongoing conversation with our audience and community about the work we are creating, and we will champion the spirit of innovation so inherent to Berkeley and the Bay Area.
From seed to table and beyond, the Food Project envisions a sweeping cycle of short scripts that explore our intricate relationship with what we eat. The Ground Floor launches this epic theatrical event by breaking bread with 20 respected writers.
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Erika Chong Shuch
Tony Taccone, director
Liesl Tommy, director
Marcus Gardley, playwright
The House that will not Stand
After the mysterious death of her lover, Beartrice Albans imposes a six month period of mourning on her household. She keeps her three daughters locked in the house to embroider linens. But when the summer heat intensifies, a handsome bachelor comes calling, a familial secret is revealed and the foundations of Beartrice’s house are rocked to its core. Set in New Orleans in 1836, exactly 100 years before The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca, this loose adaptation examines the complex system of plaçage (the common-law marriages of white men and black Creole women). These fascinating and mostly unknown free women of color became wealthy and subservient even as they fought against racial oppression pre-Civil War.
Madeleine George, playwright
Leigh Silverman, director
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence
Separated by a century, three famous Watsons work to solve a pair of mysteries that resolve, kaleidoscopically, into a single techno-love story. Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick and the supercomputer that won on Jeopardy! join forces for a romantic thriller about intelligence, interdependence and artificial forms of both.
Kathryn Keats, playwright
Gunnar Madsen, composer
Michael LeValley, director
In the early ‘80s, Kathryn Keats was a promising young musician who had performed at Opryland, off Broadway and on television. But for nearly two decades she hid under an assumed name because her boyfriend’s schizophrenia transformed him from a beloved collaborator into a homicidal stranger. When he died, Keats’ feelings erupted in song. She began writing music again, releasing an album called After the Silence. Now this Marin singer is creating a show that follows her desperate attempts to save the man she loved…and then her courageous efforts to save herself from what he’d become.
Carson Kreitzer, book and lyrics
Erin Kamler, music and lyrics
Runway 69 is a provocative story about one of the raunchiest strip clubs in New York, seen through song on the eve of the clean-up that transformed Times Square. Michelle, the new girl, learns the ropes while finding herself increasingly drawn to the volatile, troubled beauty, Josmine. Michelle’s customer, Dave, has secrets of his own: he’s an undercover cop, sent in to shut the place down.
Dan LeFranc, playwright
Troublemaker, or The Freakin’ Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright
It’s nineteen mighty-four. In working-class Rhode Island, Bradley and his bestest friend tangle with rich kid Jake Miller and some middle-school goons. And their nemesis has help from a bunch of zombies and grown-ups! Put down that backpack, turn up the soundtrack and let’s cut class.
Michael Mitnick, playwright
Little Boy Blue
A thriller about the perfect murder.
Dominic Orlando, playwright
Brian Carpenter, composer
The Barbary Coast
Power-crazed Mormons, corrupt politicians, murderous policemen, thieving barmen, desperate prostitutes, Chinese miners out for a “glorious return,” the Mexican Bandit who inspired “Zorro,” the knife-throwing, cross-dressing pickpocket Jeanne Bonnet, US Marshall Harry Love—they’re all part of The Barbary Coast—and Bay Area history.
Greg Pierotti, writer / director
Kelli Simpkins, actor / dramaturg
Jacob Coleman, actor / dramaturg
Barbara Pitts, actor
Apology is a play with interactive performance and installation components, which tells the story of The Apology Line, an art piece conceived by Allan Bridge. From 1980 to 1995, Bridge collected and played back the anonymous apologies of criminals and other wrongdoers on an answering machine in his Manhattan loft. For 15 years, serial killers, battered wives, thieves, victims of a new disease called AIDS, runaways, addicts, veterans grappling with their actions in Viet Nam, racists, homophobes, Katherine Hepburn impersonators, messengers of God and more poured their declarations onto Bridge’s machine. Bridge began to play back selected material on his outgoing message, people responded to each other and an anonymous underground community emerged. Before American Online was born, before William Gibson jacked us into his matrix, Bridge created one of the first online communities out of twisted copper wire.
Amelia Roper, playwright
She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
In a nice New England park, in a nice New England city, two nice New England couples try very, very hard to be nice to each other, while the world around them falls apart. An absurdly funny and terrifying ride through downsized, foreclosed America.
Erika Chong Shuch, co-conceiver / director /choreographer
Allen Willner, co-conceiver / production designer / composer
Text by Michelle Carter, as well as Octavio Solis, and Philip Kan Gotanda
Performers include Matthias Bossi, Nils Frykdahl, David Warren Keith and Beth Wilmurt
After All is about the intersecting stories of four characters all wrestling with the inevitability of time passing. At the center of the piece are a lonely everyman (performed by David Warren Keith) who is visited by a homeless Santa Claus (Nils Frykdahl), the man’s pet goldfish (Beth Wilmurt) who struggles with having only a three-month memory and a televangelist (Matthias Bossi).
The piece is set under the shadow of an unknown impending doom, and the character of “the crowd” (played by a cast of 30 diverse people) are devotees of the faithless preacher whose only sermon is delivered at the funeral for the world. Co-conceived by Erika Chong Shuch and Allen Willner, and directed and choreographed by Shuch, writers Michelle Carter, Octavio Solis and Philip Kan Gotanda contribute to the work.
Driven by an abstract response to questions of the future and the role of collective memory, After All is a dreamy, imagistic, musical world where characters and stories float through metaphoric landscapes. It’s about how we humans clumsily deal with time passing, and how our faith is challenged as the world continues to evolve in directions that don’t always make sense.
Heidi Stillman, playwright / director
The North China Lover
The North China Lover is a frank and fearless story of a girl’s sexual awakening and subsequent exile. Born in French Indochina, Marguerite Duras based this novel on incidents in her own life. The storyline is simple—the book deals with the last year of a girl’s residence in 1930s French Indochina (Vietnam) with her family before they move back to France. In this year she meets and has to leave her first love—the North China lover of the title. But in a deeper sense the story is the telling of the story by Marguerite Duras. This is an autobiographical incident in her life, which she keeps revisiting and reworking. This year in her life keeps playing itself out over and over in her work as a writer. It is a story about loss, exile, love, the transition from childhood to womanhood, sexual awakening, remembering. So Marguerite is the main character in this play. She is the narrator, wandering through the audience, on the stage, she’s the “director” of her story.
Meiyin Wang, creator / performer
Eric Ting, director
Mark Valadez, sound designer
motherland / foreign relations
ml/fr is a performance for two people and a rotating panel of guests that examines the history of modern China through the subversive interrogation of a mother’s mundane history, ultimately asking the question “What is the appropriate unit of mapping human history?” Part lecture, part interview, part cooking show, ml/fr examines three potential units: the recorded, the oral and the ritual, utilizing the distilled objectivity of the newspaper headline; the communication of personal narrative through electronic translation; and the perpetuation of cultural history through food.
Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll
For questions regarding the application process, please email: email@example.com.
This program is made possible by The James Irvine Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and ArtPlace (artplaceamerica.org), a collaboration of top national foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and various federal agencies to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S.