The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Tony Taccone
Main Season · Roda Theatre
May 16–June 29, 2014
West Coast premiere
Running time: 3 hours and 45 minutes, including two 15-minute intermissions
Winner of two Tony Awards, three Obies, an Emmy and a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Kushner returns to Berkeley Rep for the West Coast premiere of his latest play: The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. With his trademark mix of soaring intellect and searing emotion, the legendary playwright unfurls an epic tale of love, family, sex, money and politics—all set under the hard-earned roof of an Italian family in Brooklyn. When Gus decides to die, his kids come home with a raucous parade of lovers and spouses to find that even the house keeps secrets. Kushner reunites with one of his favorite collaborators, Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone, to bring this sweeping drama to the Roda Theatre.
Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. This show has none. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.
Partial support for open captioning provided by Theatre Development Fund
Tony Kushner · Playwright
Tony Kushner’s plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels in America, Parts One and Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; the musical Caroline, or Change and the opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck, both with composer Jeanine Tesori. He has adapted and translated Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan and Mother Courage and Her Children; and the English-language libretto for the opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’ film of Angels in America, and for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln. His books include Brundibar, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, among other honors. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.
Tony Taccone · Director
During Tony’s tenure as artistic director of Berkeley Rep, the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has earned a reputation as an international leader in innovative theatre. In those 16 years, Berkeley Rep has presented more than 70 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 22 shows to New York, two to London, and now one to Hong Kong. Tony has staged more than 35 plays in Berkeley, including new work from Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, Quincy Long, Itamar Moses, and Lemony Snicket. He directed the shows that transferred to London, Continental Divide and Tiny Kushner, and two that landed on Broadway as well: Bridge & Tunnel and Wishful Drinking. Tony commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America, co-directed its world premiere, and this season marks his eighth collaboration with Kushner when he directs The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Tony’s regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group, the Eureka Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, the Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. As a playwright, Tony recently debuted Ghost Light and Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup. His latest play, Game On, written with Dan Hoyle, premiered in April 2014 at San Jose Repertory Theatre. In 2012, Tony received the Margo Jones Award for “demonstrating a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of playwriting, with a commitment to the living theatre.”
Christopher Barreca · Scenic Design
Christopher’s work has been seen at Berkeley Rep in Man and Superman, The Illusion, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Macbeth, Skylight, The Oresteia, Rhinoceros, Crime and Punishment, Culture Clash’s The Birds, and Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. His Broadway credits include Rocky, Michael John LaChiusa’s Marie Christine, Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold (American Theatre Wing Award), Richard Greenberg’s The Violet Hour, Howard Korder’s Search and Destroy (Drama-Logue Award), and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (Prague Quadrennial). Christopher has designed many off-Broadway shows, including Greenberg’s Everett Beekin and Three Days of Rain (Drama Desk nomination), LaChiusa’s Bernarda Alba, Bernard-Marie Koltès’ Roberto Zucco, Thomas Strelich’s Neon Psalms (American Theatre Wing nomination), and Antonio Skarmeta’s Burning Patience. He also designed for a production of King Lear in Dijon, France (Prague Quadrennial), as well as Stephen Dallane’s solo show Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in London. His opera credits include Matsukaze at the Lincoln Center Festival and the Spoleto Festival and Stephin Merritt’s Peach Blossom Fan (Prague Quadrennial), both directed by Chen Shi-Zheng; and León/Soyinka’s Scourge of Hyacinths at the Münchener Biennale (BMW Award nomination). His dance credits include Susan Marshall’s Solo, Roman Oller’s Good Night Paradise and Tears for Violeta. Christopher was awarded an NEA Arts in America rant to work with artists in Calcutta, India. He is the head of scenic design at CalArts.
Meg Neville · Costume Design
Meg’s Berkeley Rep credits include Closer; Dinner with Friends; Eurydice (also at Yale Repertory Theatre and Second Stage); Galileo; Ghost Light (also at Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Ghosts; In the Wake (also at the Kirk Douglas Theatre); Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Suddenly Last Summer; TRAGEDY: a tragedy; Tribes; and Yellowjackets. She also recently designed The Cocoanuts and The Taming of the Shrew at OSF, Lady Windermere’s Fan at California Shakespeare Theater, and Krispy Kritters in the Scarlet Night at Cutting Ball Theater. As an associate artist for Cal Shakes she designed Pastures of Heaven, An Ideal Husband, The Tempest, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Happy Days, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Twelfth Night (Bay Area Critics Circle Award). Meg has worked in the Bay Area at Marin Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, San Francisco Opera Center, and the Magic Theatre. Her regional and New York venues include Brooklyn Academy of Music (Orfeo with Chicago Opera Theater), the Atlantic Theater Company, New York Stage and Film, Center Stage, Hartford Stage, South Coast Repertory, Portland Stage Company, and Dallas Theater Center. Meg is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and resides in San Francisco with her husband and three children.
Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design
Alex is returning to Berkeley Rep for his 27th production. His Broadway credits include Wishful Drinking (originally presented by Berkeley Rep), Hugh Jackman—Back on Broadway, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. His off-Broadway productions include In Masks Outrageous and Austere, Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge & Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, and In the Wake. Alex’s regional theatre credits include American Conservatory Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, National Theater of Taiwan, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and La Jolla Playhouse, among others. His dance credits include resident designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet; lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre; and resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 1989. His designs are in the permanent repertory of San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance, Hong Kong Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, ODC/SF, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Alex’s recent projects include the museum installation Circle of Memory, a collaboration with Eleanor Coppola recently presented in Stockholm, Sweden; and video and visual design for Life: A Journey Through Time, a collaboration with Frans Lanting and Philip Glass recently presented at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
Jake Rodriguez · Sound Design
Jake is a sound designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His regional credits include the world premieres of Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright, Girlfriend, and Passing Strange at Berkeley Rep; world premieres of Brownsville Song and The Christians at Actors Theatre of Louisville; Underneath the Lintel and Scorched at American Conservatory Theater; Hamlet (2012) at California Shakespeare Theater; world premieres of Bruja, Annapurna, and Oedipus el Rey at Magic Theatre; Eurydice at Milwaukee Repertory Theater; The People’s Temple at Guthrie Theater; and Clementine in the Lower 9 at TheatreWorks. He has designed off Broadway at the Pershing Square Signature Center for Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature. Jake is the recipient of a 2004 Princess Grace Award.
Amy Potozkin · Casting Director
A native New Yorker, Amy moved west in 1990 when she was hired to work for Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting projects for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various indie films: Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and the upcoming Love and Taxes both by Josh Kornbluth; and the upcoming feature film Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been a coach to hundreds of actors, teaches acting at Mills College, and leads workshops at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre and numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America.
Calleri Casting · Casting Director
Calleri Casting is James Calleri, Paul Davis, and Erica Jensen. Their most recent theatre credits include Venus in Fur on Broadway and the long-running Fuerza Bruta, as well as All in the Timing, My Name is Asher Lev, the revival of Passion, and The Revisionist starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jesse Eisenberg. Some past Broadway credits include 33 Variations, Chicago, James Joyce’s The Dead, and A Raisin in the Sun. Calleri also cast for shows at The Civilians, Classic Stage Company, Epic Theatre Ensemble, the Flea Theater, Keen Company, Long Wharf Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, New Georges, the Old Globe, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Stagefarm, Summer Play Festival, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. They cast 10 seasons with Playwrights Horizons, including such plays as Betty’s Summer Vacation, Goodnight Children Everywhere, Lobby Hero, Small Tragedy, and Violet, to name a few. Their TV credits include Army Wives, Ed, Hope & Faith, Lipstick Jungle, Monk, and Z Rock, and film credits include Another Earth, Armless, Merchant Ivory’s The City of Your Final Destination, Heights, Lisa Picard is Famous, Peter & Vandy, Ready? OK!, Trouble Every Day, The White Countess, and Yearbook. Calleri received 12 Artios Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Casting and is a member of CSA.
Michael Suenkel · Stage Manager
Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 20th year as production stage manager. Some of his favorite shows include 36 Views, Endgame, Eurydice, Hydriotaphia, and Mad Forest. He has also worked with the Barbican in London, the Huntington Theatre Company, the Juste Pour Rire Festival in Montreal, La Jolla Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, The Public Theater and Second Stage Theater in New York, and Yale Repertory Theatre. For the Magic Theatre, he stage managed Albert Takazauckas’ Breaking the Code and Sam Shepard’s The Late Henry Moss.
Megan C. McClintock · Assistant Stage Manager
Since starting at Berkeley Rep as a fellow nearly 10 years ago, Megan has run the backstage for over 20 productions. Her favorites include Girlfriend, Eurydice, The Arabian Nights, The White Snake, Dear Elizabeth, The Miser, Coming Home, Wishful Drinking, No Man’s Land, and How to Write a New Book for the Bible. Megan also regularly stage manages for the San Francisco Opera Center’s Merola program, and her favorite Merola shows include Cosi Fan Tutte, L’elisir d’Amore, and Postcard from Morocco. Megan studied theatre and history at Willamette University and is also the proud co-owner of one of Berkeley Rep’s wiggliest mascots, Burrows the Dog.
Kit Stølen · Assistant Scenic Design
Mina Morita · Assistant Director
Ben Kaplan · Assistant to Mr. Kushner
Julie Wolf · Music Consultant
Tina Chilip · Sooze
This is Tina’s Berkeley Rep debut. She was recently in Chinglish at Portland Center Stage and Syracuse Stage, directed by May Adrales. Her New York credits include Golden Child at Signature Theatre Company (directed by Leigh Silverman), Flipzoids at Ma-Yi Theater Company, Joy Luck Club at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, and A Dream Play at the National Asian American Theatre Company. She has performed regionally in M. Butterfly at the Guthrie Theater, Yellow Face at TheatreWorks, and in productions at Trinity Repertory Company and more. Internationally, she was in Golden Child at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where she received a Philstage Award Citation for Outstanding Female Lead Performance. Tina is a graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Acting Program. Visit tinachilip.com.
Randy Danson · Clio
Randy was last seen at Berkeley Rep in Finn in the Underworld and prior to that as Violet in Suddenly Last Summer, both directed by Les Waters. Her regional credits include Vivian in Wit at Philadelphia Theatre Company, for which she won the Barrymore Award, and Shen Teh/Shui Ta in The Good Person of Szechwan at Arena Stage, for which she received a Helen Hayes Award. She appeared as the title role in Robert Woodruff’s production of The Duchess of Malfi at American Conservatory Theater. Most recently in New York City she appeared in the American premiere of Caryl Churchill’s newest play, Love and Information, produced by New York Theatre Workshop, and on Broadway as Madame Morrible in Wicked. She was in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, and a number of films by independent filmmaker Mark Rappaport. In 1992 she received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.
Anthony Fusco · Adam
Anthony made his Berkeley Rep debut earlier this season in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. A Marin County kid, he came back to the Bay Area from New York City in 1999 and since has been a leading actor and company member at American Conservatory Theater and California Shakespeare Theater, playing memorable roles in dozens of productions. His favorites include Napoli!, Clybourne Park, Samuel Beckett’s Play, Dead Metaphor, David Mamet’s Race and November, The Homecoming, Hedda Gabler, Caucasian Chalk Circle, and The Three Sisters at ACT and King Lear, Blithe Spirit, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest, Arms and the Man, and Candida at Cal Shakes. On Broadway, Anthony appeared in The Real Thing and The Real Inspector Hound. He has performed in plays off Broadway (and off off off Broadway) and at many of America’s major regional theatres. His (few) film appearances include his role as a creepy priest in Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt. Anthony lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children. He is a graduate of Juilliard.
Jordan Geiger · Eli
Jordan is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared off Broadway in Peter and The Starcatcher at New World Stages, The Correspondent at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and The Best of Everything at HERE Arts Center. A Denver native, Jordan studied at Juilliard, where some of his favorite credits include The Seagull, directed by Lucie Tiberghien; Hay Fever, directed by Dakin Matthews; and All’s Well That Ends Well.
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson · Paul
Tyrone’s New York credits include The Piano Lesson, Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk (national tour), The America Play, The Tempest (with Patrick Stewart), Two Noble Kinsmen, The Public Sings, King Lear, and Letters to the End of the World. His regional credits include Angels in America, The Trip To Bountiful, An Enemy of the People, Tartuffe, The Winter’s Tale, Radio Golf, The 39 Steps, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra (with Suzanne Bertish), Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Hamlet, Topdog/Underdog, Intimate Apparel, Yellowman, Jitney, All My Sons, The Crucible, and Blues for an Alabama Sky (with Phylicia Rashad). He has appeared on television in The Following, Boardwalk Empire, Suits (pilot), five episodes of the Law & Order series, As The World Turns, and All My Children. His film credits include Ride for Your Life and The Treatment. Tyrone received a Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Award and a Leon Rabin Award, and he was nominated for an AUDELCO Award, a Connecticut Critics Circle Award, and a Kevin Kline Award. Visit tyronemitchellhenderson.com.
Lou Liberatore · Pill
This is Lou’s Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared on Broadway in As Is and Burn This (also in London), starring John Malkovich and Joan Allen, for which he was nominated for the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. He has also appeared off Broadway at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Circle Repertory Company, the Vineyard Theatre, and the Lark Theatre, among others. His selected regional credits include shows at Westport Country Playhouse, Center Stage, Pioneer Theatre Company, Two River Theater Company, the Alley Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and the Mark Taper Forum. His TV credits include The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, Sex and the City, Law & Order, and others. He appeared in the films Blood from a Stoner, Box, Mary and Louise, and It’s My Party. A graduate of Fordham University (Lincoln Center), Lou studied with the legendary acting teacher William Esper, was a member of the historic Circle Repertory Company, and is a lifetime member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Visit louliberatore.com.
Deirdre Lovejoy · Empty
Deirdre is making her Berkeley Rep debut. She appeared on Broadway in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks and directed by George C. Wolfe, Six Degrees of Separation (also the first national tour), Getting and Spending, and The Gathering. Her off-Broadway credits include the original production of How I Learned to Drive (also at Arena Stage), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Machinal at The Public Theater, and Henry V at the Delacorte Theater. Her select regional credits include Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, and The Sisters Rosensweig at the Old Globe; Heartbreak House at the Huntington Theatre Company; The House That Jack Built at Indiana Repertory Theatre; and Dark Rapture at American Conservatory Theater. She played Rhonda Pearlman on HBO’s The Wire for five seasons. Other TV shows and films include Girls, Orange Is the New Black (season two), Bones (as The Gravedigger), Body of Proof, The West Wing, American Horror Story, Private Practice, Criminal Minds, The Closer, all of the Law & Order series, and Step Up. Deirdre wrote and performed her solo piece Bird Elephant China for the Chautauqua Theater Company last year, and the show is in development for theatrical performance and the speaker circuit. She received her BFA from University of Evansville and her MFA from New York University. Visit deirdrelovejoy.com and follow her on Twitter, @ddlovejoy.
Mark Margolis · Gus
This is Mark’s first appearance at Berkeley Rep. He most recently played Bernie Madoff in Deb Margolin’s Imagining Madoff at Stageworks/Hudson. He has appeared on Broadway in Infidel Caesar and The World of Sholom Aleichem. He has performed at many New York theatres including The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and Second Stage Theatre. His regional credits include shows at Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, Hartford Stage, the Wilma Theater, Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Denver Center Theatre Company, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and Williamstown Theatre Festival, among others. Mark has appeared in all of Darren Aronofsky’s films beginning with Pi. He has also appeared in many other films including Scarface, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Defiance, The Thomas Crown Affair, Gone Baby Gone, Dinner Rush, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, The Tailor of Panama, Stand Up Guys, Jakob the Liar, and Mickey Blue Eyes. He played Tio in Breaking Bad, a performance which earned him a primetime Emmy nomination. He has also appeared in the TV mini-series Mildred Pierce as well as TV shows Californication, Oz, The Equalizer, Kings, American Horror Story (second season), and Person of Interest, among others. Mark studied with Stella Adler and is a member of the Actors Studio.
Joseph J. Parks · Vito
Joseph is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He appeared off Broadway in Eurydice at Second Stage Theatre. His regional theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet, Eurydice, and Richard II at Yale Repertory Theatre; Romeo and Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater; Broadway Bound at the Old Globe; The History of Invulnerability and Love Song at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? and Slay the Dragon at American Conservatory Theater; The Sweetest Swing in Baseball at Magic Theatre; and Wintertime at San Jose Repertory Theatre. His television credits include Person of Interest, Golden Boy, 666 Park Avenue, and Law & Order. Joseph received his MFA from the Yale School of Drama.
Robynn Rodriguez · Shelle
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Robynn is always thrilled to be back at Berkeley Rep, where she was last seen in the world premiere of Ghost Light, created and developed by Tony Taccone and Jonathan Moscone and directed by Jonathan. She was also in Berkeley Rep’s production of The Oresteia and the world premiere of David Edgar’s Continental Divide (a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), which toured to La Jolla Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, and the Barbican in London. For 22 seasons, Robynn was a member of the resident acting company at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she appeared in over 40 productions. Her work has been seen at the Guthrie Theater, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Intiman Theatre, the Denver Center Theatre Company, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, among others. In 2013, Robynn made her directorial debut at the Utah Shakespeare Festival with Shakespeare’s King John.
Liz Wisan · Maeve
Liz is delighted to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. She was just seen at Yale Repertory Theatre in the world premiere of These Paper Bullets!, and at Seattle Repertory Theatre in Christopher Bayes’ production of The Servant of Two Masters, which originated at Yale Rep in 2010, and has enjoyed incarnations at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, and ArtsEmerson. Her New York credits include the Broadway and Lincoln Center Theater productions of Other Desert Cities (understudying and performing the role of Brooke), Bill W. & Dr. Bob at Soho Playhouse, Billy Witch at Astoria Performing Arts Center, and Miss Lilly Gets Boned, My Base and Scurvy Heart, and The Sporting Life at Studio 42, with which she is a resident artist. Her regional credits include The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Hannah at Premiere Stages, The Winter’s Tale at Chautauqua Theater Company, and Anything Goes, Twelfth Night, and Cloud Tectonics at Williamstown Theatre Festival. She has been seen in the TV series Elementary and in the films Ready or Knot and Bitches. Liz performs long-form and musical improv in New York City, and writes and performs stand-up and sketch comedy. She received her MFA from Yale School of Drama.
The actors and stage managers are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
“You know you’re in the hands of Tony Kushner when the characters are wrestling with big ideas in fraught situations, the laughter is plentiful and you leave feeling smarter than you were before. Such is the case with the West Coast premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures…It’s a richly rewarding and stimulating experience.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Director Tony Taccone manages to deliver a nearly four-hour production that is never dull (I’ve seen many shorter plays that seemed much longer) and is, by turns, exasperating, fascinating, gripping and, in moments, mind blowing. Taccone’s long relationship with Kushner stretches back to the commissioning of Angels, and it seems Taccone is exactly the right director to layer Kushner’s word- and intellect-rich script with reality and theatricality…It’s challenging and rewarding in equal measure. And it’s funny.”—Theater Dogs
“Berkeley Rep’s artistic director Tony Taccone’s almost 40-year history with Tony Kushner (he commissioned Kushner’s Angels in America) has led to Taccone’s expert understanding of Kushner’s works. In addition to Taccone’s talent, Kushner’s creative genius, a marvelous cast of actors, especially Mark Margolis and Deirdre Lovejoy, and an outstanding scenic design by Christopher Barreca, all combine to leave audience challenged, fascinated, excited and wanting more.”—Berkeleyside
“That rarest of theater delights—a big, noisy, sexy play in which argument is hot and throbbing…Bear witness to Tony Kushner’s roaring new play [and] banquet on rich and delectable passions and ideas, washed down with lashings of wit.”—The Nation
“Theatergoers who have previously thrilled to Mr. Kushner’s heady language and his visceral commitment to ideas made flesh are sure to feel a rush of the old excitement [as] Guide explodes into a babel of fast-talking, passionate voices—slapping and overlapping, twining and crashing into one another. And you may find yourself sitting back and grinning at this noisy spectacle of so many people having so much to say with so much passion and eloquence.”—New York Times
“Thrilling…His genius stems from his ability to illuminate ideas that might seem impossibly unwieldy to lesser minds…The playwright locks horns with the essential questions of class, history and politics that have always anchored his work. Only this time the narrative is an almost four-hour family drama that echoes Arthur Miller and Anton Chekhov but is uniquely Kushnerian in its marriage of poetry and politics. In its long-awaited West Coast premiere at Berkeley Rep, it’s an astonishing achievement that’s as thrilling and provocative as it is challenging…As ever, Kushner leaves you with your heart in your mouth and your mind on fire—and that’s priceless.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
“Kushner has an ingenious collaborator in Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone…Crafting the massive ache of the play’s emotional tornado requires deftness and dexterity: Taccone has both.”—SF Weekly
“Rich, deep, beautiful…Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious…Whereas the questions of life and death would be sufficient ingredients for most writers, Kushner spices up the fare with dashes of Marxism, contemporary theology, Communist Party history, the labor movement, and gay activism. Out of this bubbling mélange comes an unexpectedly powerful and bittersweet taste of our post-imperial moment…The play is operatic, and Kushner is at his funniest when he hits the pure, clear note of high dudgeon.”—The New Yorker
“A family drama of the first rate…It’s also lush and beautiful, funny and an education. It is poignant and smart…Kushner uses a Brooklyn family to expose a place one is meant to avoid at polite cocktail parties: The battleground where politics and personal lives overlap and buckle.”—Associated Press
Prologue: from the Artistic Director
Tony Kushner is an intrepid explorer. Armed with only a stack of notebooks and a small arsenal of fountain pens, he makes his way through the vast landscape of American history, seeking to identify dramatic moments of revelatory transformation. Every one of his plays (and screenplays!) focuses on titanic change, times when the oppositional forces of human exchange erupt into chaos and cacophony. Into material conflict. Into the thrill and terror of revolution. There in that vortex Mr. Kushner dwells, sifting through the onslaught of voices, of characters demanding the stage, listening to the breathing of history. And after he’s listened long and hard, after he’s immersed himself in the past so thoroughly that he can re-imagine the present, he unleashes his mighty pen and sets out to capture the motion of the world as it hurls forever forward.
It is, ultimately, an impossible task. The world is far too complicated for any single person to fully comprehend. And yet, a small group of people seems to come astonishingly close. Mr. Kushner is one of those people. His capacity to describe the interrelationship of human thought and behavior within the shifting forces of social and economic upheaval is nothing short of astonishing. In iHo, (the friendly nickname given to the play by the playwright’s husband), his interests include the nature of change, Italian-American political history, the explosive real estate market, the fracture and re-bonding of families, and sex as an expression of desire, alienation, value, and identity. Oh, and theology…All of these interests are channeled through the lives of a single family living in Brooklyn in 2007, a family grappling with the very meaning of life.
iHo was produced several years ago at the Guthrie Theater and immediately moved to The Public Theater in New York. While the play was embraced as a significant piece of work, Tony felt he had not completed the job. Paul Valéry famously once said that “a work of art is never completed, only abandoned.” Much to my delight and, I hope, your pleasure, Tony chose not to abandon iHo. He has significantly re-worked the text, working feverishly to deepen relationships and vivify ideas. Tonight you will see the results of his labors and the effort of the entire creative team to realize the play’s ambitions. We have the great advantage of knowing that our audience here in Berkeley is up for every challenge, and that Mr. Kushner has, in a real way, come home.
Prologue: from the Managing Director
This has been a year of many firsts for us here at Berkeley Rep. Of most import were the firsts on our stages. We began the season with those astounding fellows Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, whom we affectionately referred to as “the sirs,” in No Man’s Land, which was given its first production here before heading to Broadway. Marcus Gardley’s The House that will not Stand, which emerged from our Ground Floor new play development program, premiered here before going on to a second production at Yale Repertory Theatre. We also produced our first show in the new Osher Studio, bringing Brian Copeland’s Not a Genuine Black Man back for its 10th anniversary. And while The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures certainly isn’t the first play by Tony Kushner we’ve produced, it’s been a long time since we’ve had the pleasure of his company, as he’s been in residence during much of the rehearsal process for this production.
It was a year of firsts in a host of other ways. This year we introduced open captioning for at least one performance of all of our shows in an experiment to determine whether there is enough audience interest to justify an ongoing program. We opened the new bar in the old costume shop off the courtyard. We’re giving ourselves some time to figure out how we’ll program the space, but already patrons and staff are enjoying having a place to kick back and kibitz before and after a show. We’ve introduced new classes at our School of Theatre, continuing to expand the range of offerings for adults as well as teens and children. You probably noticed that instead of tearing your ticket at the door, we now scan it so that we can give you better service. We’ve experimented with other new uses of technology, new ways of working, new tools for problem solving, and new ways of improving the experience of artists and audiences here. And thrillingly, with over 18,000 subscribers, this was the first season in which almost every production was extended to meet the unprecedented ticket demand, resulting in what we believe will be the highest attendance in our history.
While Berkeley Rep has always appreciated and valued our historic roots, as evidenced by our return again and again to great plays from the past, we also recognize the importance of opening ourselves up to the future. Maybe nothing exemplifies that impulse more than The Ground Floor, where we incubate new plays and support longtime colleagues like Anna Deavere Smith and Lisa Peterson (co-author and director of last year’s An Iliad) while simultaneously supporting young artists whose work has yet to become mainstream. The impulse behind The Ground Floor is something that we try to replicate throughout our Theatre. Whether it is in our technology, or in our development, marketing, or production departments, we are committed to infusing the entire Theatre with the spirit of experimentation and curiosity that drives our artistic programming.
We still have one non-subscription production to open, Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, but we are rapidly moving toward the conclusion of the 2013–14 season. It is satisfying to look back at our many firsts—and yet we’re already looking toward 2014–15 for what new things lie ahead. I hope you’ll be a part of the grand experiment.
Coffee with Kushner
By Catherine Steindler
Few writers alive today can be spoken about with the level of reverence that is reserved for Tony Kushner. In his impressive career, he has received a Pulitzer Prize, been nominated for two Academy Awards, and was awarded with the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. Kushner, never one to be short on words, met with Catherine Steindler to shed some light on his process, between his office in Manhattan and a café in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Catherine Steindler: You’ve played with illusion and reality quite a bit in your plays.
Tony Kushner: Whatever else is going on onstage and whatever else people are learning and experiencing in the course of a play, they’re always being taught critical consciousness by the inadequate illusion. That’s why I wanted to go back to the theatre of illusion with Angels and have magical things happen. When we did it at the National [The National Theatre in London], Richard Eyre [the artistic director at the time] was concerned that the angel wasn’t flown in on thin, nearly invisible wires but that instead she came swinging in on this big obvious rope. But I loved that. I thought, Exactly. That’s the idea.
In Angels, if you do what Oskar Eustis [who directed the world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum] and I worked out in the stage directions for the first arrival of the angel, if you follow the directions exactly—now the lights flicker, now the bed moves—it works on a whole other level than if you just say, Nobody’s going to believe it’s an angel. Just make some noise and some crashing and have the ceiling split when she comes in. The closer you bring the audience to believing, the more powerful the equal and opposite reaction is—the disbelief. When they see that the stuff falling from the ceiling is Styrofoam—because of Equity you can’t drop real plaster on an actor, alas—and that the crack in the ceiling is precut and the angel’s on visible wires, they’re right on the edge of belief and disbelief.
Watching theatre, you learn that existence is legible but that you have to have a critical mind if you’re going to read it.
You sound like Gus in Intelligent Homosexual.
That’s exactly what Gus is talking about. Marxism-Leninism has made the world become transparent and legible to him. That’s what metatheories are meant to do—not necessarily to explain everything, but to command a magisterial enough vista, to have a deep enough coherence that they become for their adherents a way of understanding the world, at least of beginning an understanding. We’re now in the 21st century and have seen so many metatheories fail that we’re very skeptical, appropriately skeptical, of all of them. But I think we’re still in search of them and always will be, because we apprehend that there is coherence in the universe. We understand that what appears chaotic is merely the result of a limited point of view. If you can view chaos itself from God’s eye, you can see great patterns. Everybody from Aristotle and Plato to Wallace Stevens has written about this.
The point is to pierce the veil of illusion and see underneath to the skeleton, to the infrastructure, to the plumbing, and see how this stuff is actually made and how the magic effect is produced. You can’t live as anything other than history’s fool if you don’t make an effort to do that. I mean, you will always wind up being history’s fool—it’s not like you’re going to get out of it—but the only hope we have is for people not to be literal readers, not to be fundamentalist readers, and to understand that, from the Holy Scriptures on, the whole point is to interpret and to understand. I think theatre forces you to do that.
Is theatre unique in that respect?
No, film demands interpretation, of course, and there are great directors who emphasize the artificiality of film, its theatricality. But in film, the possibility exists of creating overwhelmingly convincing, nearly inescapable illusion, and that doesn’t exist as a possible choice onstage. You just can’t manage it. In a film like Avatar the illusion is almost inescapable, almost all encompassing, and it’s certain that, as we proceed into the future, cinematic illusion is becoming even more so. The flat projection screen is already a kind of archaic convention. It’s just an imitation of the proscenium arch, really. In the future we’re going to take drugs and the screen will be all around us and we’ll have sensory experiences with it and I’m sure it’ll be great, but people will still be going to the theatre to watch Hamlet and Laertes fight. The great thing about having somebody die at the end of a sword fight is that it takes a lot of physical energy to do a sword fight. So they’re dead, but their ribcages are heaving up and down. The incomplete, imperfect illusion will never be unnecessary for human beings, and its home will always be in the theatre, where everything, including death, is simultaneously thoroughly and yet not entirely convincing.
Do you tend to write very quickly and then revise, and revise, and revise?
I tend to delay as long as I possibly can and get into a lot of trouble and get everyone upset. And then it comes out. I always write under panic. I seem to need that.
Does the panic enliven your plays, or is it just a horrible necessity you have to endure?
It’s definitely horrible and I don’t want to believe it’s a necessity, but it seems to be. I don’t want to valorize it in myself, because it has made it hard for me and very hard for the people who work with me…It’s caused problems for many theatres I’ve worked with, for Mike Nichols and for Steven Spielberg. It’s never been a good thing. It’s something I have struggled with and suffered from all of my life.
I find writing very difficult. It’s hard and it hurts sometimes, and it’s scary because of the fear of failure and the very unpleasant feeling that you may have reached the limit of your abilities. You’re smart enough to see that there’s something that lies beyond what you’ve been able to do, but you don’t know how to get there, how to make it happen in the medium in which you’ve decided to work. I can be very masochistic, but that kind of anxiety is something I tend to want to avoid.
I’ve been in therapy and psychoanalysis since I was 17, so I certainly know a lot about why I procrastinate. But the need to do it is still very powerful. The smartest shrinks I’ve had don’t think there’s a clean separation between the salutary and the unsalutary parts of it. And they tell me I’m probably not going to be able to change it. Like sexual taste, your work ethic is formed deep within, and it’s comprised by all sorts of impulses. Why do any of us bother to put on clothes in the first place and accept toilet training and learn how to read and write and count? It’s enormously peculiar, the process of becoming civilized and developing things like a work ethic and a sexual ethic.
Have you developed techniques for dealing with procrastination?
The lesson I learn over and over again—and then forget over and over again—is that writing won’t be so bad once you get into it. One’s reluctance is immensely powerful. It’s like what Proust says about habit—it seems tiny in the grand arc of a person’s life narrative, but it’s the most insidious, powerful thing. Reluctance is like that.
When you feel most terrified—I think this is true of most writers—it’s because the thing isn’t there in your head. I’ve found it to be the case that you’ve got to start writing, and writing almost anything. Because writing is not simply an intellectual act. It doesn’t happen exclusively in your head. It’s a combination of idea and action, what Marx and Freud called praxis, a combining of the material and the immaterial. The action, the physical act of putting things down on paper, changes and produces a writer’s ideas.
Do you feel that psychoanalysis is necessary for a writer?
I don’t want to say that everyone should be in psychoanalysis, but I certainly think Freud is valuable, even essential. Learning to read the text of human behavior and the immensely complex way that language constitutes meaning is important. Being an analysand (a person undergoing psychoanalysis) also teaches a kind of ethics, a kind of scrupulousness about behavior. You learn that you’re going to do things you didn’t consciously intend, things that you intend only on a very deep level. You learn that it’s better, when those things happen, to acknowledge that they happened. You lose your innocence and that’s painful and it makes you a pain in the ass. If you read The Psychopathology of Everyday Life or the theory of the unconscious or Interpretation of Dreams, you start listening to people in an intrusive, slightly domineering, slightly paranoiac way. You start to suspect every motive you have and every motive that everyone else has, but I think what you get in return for that is a degree of consciousness about how we act and interact.
When you talk about doing things that are motivated on an unconscious level and trying to read people, I think about rehearsals. I know you had a tough time in Intelligent Homosexual rehearsals.
I wrote iHo in rehearsal at the Guthrie and then for various reasons found it very hard to get back to before we went into rehearsal again at the Public. Some of the central cast members had been with the play from the beginning, and they’re all enormously smart and talented and very powerful actors, and it wasn’t entirely clear by the end of the rehearsal process at the Public who owned the characters they were playing. It was clear who was going to own them, because it’s my play. But I felt like I was having to negotiate with the actors whenever I wanted to make changes, and sometimes I had to submit to them. A great actor like Linda Emond is not faking it. She’s doing annihilating work, and if I start monkeying around too much with the words, it’s terrifying for her, for any actor working at her level. It’s like brain surgery—it makes her work impossible. A playwright in production is a soul divided. You don’t want to fuck up the production, and you can easily do that by not respecting what the director and actors need. But you must also take care of the play. The needs of these two different things—the play and the production—are often incommensurable.
But production is also the great thing about being a playwright. When your work is reasonably close to completion, you get to go into a room full of wonderful people who will then help you continue to write your play. The solitude of novelists and poets and nonfiction prose writers is a terribly frightening thing for me to contemplate. Actors and directors make my life so much easier, and even sometimes happier. The only problem is that, as my friend George Wolfe always says, a playwright has to be able to know when it’s time to leave the party. Rehearsal rooms are hotbeds of suffering and agony and joy and sex, or at least eroticism and excitement, and you can get very caught up in them. It’s hard to leave and go back and be alone with a blank page. This is something that every writer, playwright or otherwise, goes through. But as a playwright I don’t think you quite develop the same talent for solitude that poets and novelists do. I wish I were a poet.
Excerpted from The Paris Review’s “Art of Theater No. 16: Tony Kushner,” by Catherine Steindler (Issue 201, Summer 2012).
Hear Tony Kushner’s thoughts on his play.
Introducing The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide
Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone introduces The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide.
Want to listen to an extended interview with playwright Tony Kushner, conducted by the theatre’s multimedia producer, Pauline Luppert? Play these audio files online—or download and listen to them on your way to the show.
Photos courtesy of kevinberne.com
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Our literary department has curated this select list of resources about Tony Kushner, Karl Marx, and labor unions.
- A speech by Tony Kushner about the nature of writing, delivered at the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Awards and reprinted by the New Yorker magazine.
- The complete interview conducted between Catherine Steindler and Tony Kushner, as featured in the Paris Review and excerpted in Berkeley Rep’s show program.
- In this essay from the Atlantic, Christopher Hitchins discusses the life and work of Karl Marx in relation to the economic crisis that started in 2007.
- Since 2008, sales of The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, Marx’s masterpiece of political economy, have soared. This article from the Guardian talks about the resurgence of interest in Marxist thinking.
- Founded in 1919 and crippled by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the CPUSA has persevered, still claiming a few thousand loyal members and still fighting for the “wealth of the United States to be for the benefit of all the people.” This BBC News Magazine piece explores the issues party members face, from right-wing attacks to public perception and changing the party’s name.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848
- A short political manuscript containing Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, and the perpetual social tendency toward class warfare.
Das Kapital by Karl Marx, 1867
- While only the first of three volumes was published during his lifetime, Karl Marx’s theory of the self-destructive nature of the capitalist system has had an enduring and influential lifespan.
- The story of the birth of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, originally the Pacific Coast district of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the union responsible for approximately 42,000 hardworking laborers.
- A short video documenting the life of a longshoreman working at the port of Los Angeles in 1947.
- A 2009 fact sheet about the EFCA from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, an independent nonpartisan education and advocacy organization.
- An account of the life and career of Vito Marcantonio, the real-life radical politician who was written into The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… as a deceased relative of the protagonists.
Free Speech pre- and post-show enrichment programs
Meet us in the Theatre an hour before the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 30-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.
Post-show docent-led discussions follow matinees.
Our docents also offer talks off-site:
- Tuesday, May 20 · 7pm—Orinda Library
- Monday, June 9 · 7pm—Kensington Library
- Wednesday, June 18 · 2pm—Moraga Library
- Tuesday, June 24 · 7pm—Lafayette Library
Page to Stage
Every season, Berkeley Rep hosts Page to Stage, a series of free discussions with eminent theatre artists, designed to give audiences additional insight into the plays and playwrights produced at Berkeley Rep. Past programs have featured theatre luminaries such as David Edgar, Sarah Jones, Tony Kushner, Delroy Lindo, Donald Margulies, Terrence McNally, Charles Mee, Rita Moreno, Salman Rushdie, and the Chicano performance trio Culture Clash.
Each talk starts at 7pm and runs about 60 minutes. No tickets are necessary for these free events, but seating is limited. The lobby opens at 6pm, and doors to the Theatre open at 6:30pm for general admission seating. Berkeley Rep donors at the Friend level or higher ($75+) enjoy reserved seating. For more information about Page to Stage or how to become a donor, call 510 647–2906.
- Monday, May 19, 2014
A discussion with playwright Tony Kushner, moderated by KQED’s Michael Krasny
Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.
Past Teen Night guests have included: Tony Taccone, Berkeley Rep’s Michael Leibert Artistic Director; Ray Garcia and Salvatore Vassallo, dancers in Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup; and Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep’s production stage manager.
- Friday, May 16, 2014