Hand to God

Hand to God must close March 26 Hand to God: watch video Hand to God Hand to God

Hand to God

By Robert Askins
Directed by David Ivers
Main Season · Peet’s Theatre
February 3–March 26, 2017
West Coast premiere

Running time: approximately 80 minutes, plus one 15-minute intermission

Be not deceived: The devil is lurking at the Christian Puppet Ministry in Cypress, Texas. And his name is…Tyrone. He may look like an innocent sock puppet, but when he infiltrates the angst-ridden church youth group and takes possession of Jason’s arm, well, all hell breaks loose. Spectacularly foul-mouthed and wickedly scandalous, Tyrone shocks the congregation with his outrageous insinuations, exposing their deepest secrets—and teaching us all about love, grief, and what it means to be human. This fast-paced irreverent comedy is “darkly delightful,” declares the New York Times.

Hand to God includes haze effects, strobe lights, and occasional bright lights directed at the audience. Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. 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.

Season sponsors

BARTPeet’s CoffeeWells Fargo

Hand to God calendar

Creative team

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Robert Askins · Playwright

Robert was born in Cypress, Texas. His hit dark comedy Hand to God opened on Broadway in April 2015, following two critically acclaimed runs at Ensemble Studio Theatre and MCC Theater, where it was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick and called “the most entertaining show of 2014.” His play Permission made its world premiere off Broadway in spring 2015 at MCC Theater. His play Fish Display was part of the 2012 Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Permission was part of the 2014 conference. Rob has received two EST/Sloan grants, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting. Rob is an I-73 and Youngblood alum and a graduate of Baylor University. He’s currently at work on two feature film projects.

David Ivers · Director

David previously directed One Man, Two Guvnors for Berkeley Rep. He is in his seventh season as artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he has been creating productions as director/actor since 1992. In recent seasons, he has directed Twelfth Night, Twelve Angry Men, Romeo and Juliet, Cyrano De Bergerac, and others. Additionally, he spent 10 years as a resident artist with the Denver Center Theatre Company, collaborating on over 40 productions as director/actor. Also, David helmed The Taming of the Shrew and a premiere adaptation of The Cocoanuts for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Other regional work includes productions at Pioneer Theatre Company, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, the Alabama and Idaho Shakespeare Festivals, Portland Center Stage, Portland Rep, Artists Repertory Theatre, and Tacoma Actors Guild. David’s upcoming projects include productions at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, and the Guthrie Theater.

Jo Winiarski · Scenic Design

Jo is a set designer and art director. Hand to God is her first production at Berkeley Rep. Her off-Broadway credits include: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey; Love, Loss, and What I Wore; multiple shows with the Pearl Theatre Company; The Jewish American Princess of Comedy; and I Love You Because. Other New York theatre companies she has designed for include Abingdon Theatre Company, New Georges, the New Group, Keen Company, Clubbed Thumb, Relentless Theatre Company, and the Roundtable Ensemble. Jo’s regional design credits include 12 seasons at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (having designed over 35 shows), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Geva Theatre Center, the Hangar Theatre, and Virginia Stage Company. Jo is the art director on Late Night with Seth Meyers. She received an Emmy nomination for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.

Meg Neville · Costume Design

Meg’s recent Berkeley Rep credits include It Can’t Happen Here; Macbeth; One Man, Two Guvnors; Party People; and X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story). She also worked on Tribes; The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures; Pericles, Prince of Tyre; and more. Her productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival include Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2015), The Cocoanuts (2014), Taming of the Shrew (2013), and Ghost Light (2011). Meg is an associate artist with California Shakespeare Theater, where she has designed numerous productions including Lady Windermere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and lots of Shakespeare. Other Bay Area theatre credits include Marin Theatre Company, the Cutting Ball Theater, American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, and Magic Theatre. She has also worked at Second Stage Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Chicago Opera Theater, NY Stage and Film, Hartford Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Portland Stage Company, and Dallas Theater Center. Meg is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Brown University and resides in San Francisco with her husband and three children.

Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design

Alex has designed more than 30 productions for Berkeley Rep. His Broadway credits include Wishful Drinking, 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 has worked at regional theatres throughout the country, including American Conservatory Theater, Mark Taper Forum, National Theatre 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 other projects include the museum installation Circle of Memory, a collaboration with Eleanor Coppola, presented in Stockholm, Sweden, and the video and visual design for Life: A Journey Through Time, a collaboration with Frans Lanting and Philip Glass, presented at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Joe Payne · Sound Design

Joe is currently Assistant Professor of Sound and Digital Media at The University of Tennessee–Knoxville, after 10 years as resident sound designer for Pioneer Theatre Company, and teaching sound design for the University of Utah and Illinois State University. He has been the sound designer for the Utah Shakespeare Festival for the last 16 years, and has designed throughout the country, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Syracuse Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Virginia Stage Company, and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Joe is a member of USA local 829 and TSDCA.

Amanda Villalobos · Puppet Design

Amanda is a puppet designer, fabricator, and performer based in New York. She has had the pleasure of working with many artists and companies including Theodora Skipitares, Lee Breuer, Basil Twist, Half Straddle, Elevator Repair Service, and Sibyl Kempson. Amanda designed the puppets for Amélie, A New Musical, which premiered at Berkeley Rep and opens on Broadway this spring. Other design credits include Fondly, Collette Richland at New York Theatre Workshop and Ghost Rings at New York Live Arts. Amanda’s performances include the Broadway production of The Peewee Herman Show at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag at Abrons Art Center, Rite of Spring at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Arias with a Twist at Abrons and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Amanda recently designed and performed as a Bo Obama puppet on Late Night with Seth Myers. Please visit avpuppets.com.

Danielle O’Dea · Fight Director

Danielle is a New York City and Bay Area-based stunt performer and fight director. This is her second show with Berkeley Rep. Her Broadway credits include associate fight direction at the Atlantic Theatre Company on An Enemy of the People, and at the Cort Theater on Grace. Her off-Broadway credits include work on Bethany at New York City Center, Medieval Play at Signature Theatre, Gabriel at the Atlantic Theatre Company, and That Face at Manhattan Theatre Club. Some of her Bay Area credits include choreography at American Conservatory Theater, TheatreWorks, San Francisco Opera, New Conservatory Theatre Company, and more. Her stunt performance and choreography can also be seen in the video games XCOM 2 and Mafia 3 from 2K Games. Danielle is a BFA graduate from New York University, and has been with the Society of American Fight Directors for 10 years.

Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting

This is Amy’s 27th season at Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays 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 independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. Amy taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and was nominated for Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures and One Man, Two Guvnors.

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 23rd 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.

Chris Waters · Assistant Stage Manager

Chris most recently staged managed Safe House at Aurora Theatre Company. Some of his favorite credits include Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, and King Lear (California Shakespeare Theater); Talley’s Folly and Rapture, Blister, Burn (Aurora Theatre); James and the Giant Peach (Bay Area Children’s Theater/Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre); Orlando (TheatreFIRST); pen/man/ship (Magic Theatre); and A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry (Z Space), starring Danny Scheie. Chris holds an MA in theatre management from University of California, Santa Cruz.

Additional credits

Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Sarah Lafferty · Puppet Construction Assistant


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Michael Doherty · Jason / Tyrone

Michael is making his Berkeley Rep debut. His off-Broadway credits include Dublin by Lamplight (59E59/INIS NUA Theatre Company). His regional credits include Ragtime, Man of La Mancha, A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Peter and the Starcatcher (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), Charley’s Aunt and Taming of the Shrew (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Assistance (the Wilma Theater), Next to Normal and The History Boys (Arden Theatre Company), Mr. Hart and Mr. Brown (People’s Light), Moon Over Buffalo (Gulfshore Playhouse), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Theatre Horizon—Barrymore Award for Supporting Actor), and many more. His TV pilot, Los Jarochos, won Best Writing at the 2013 Independent TV Festival. Michael received his BFA from University of the Arts.

Michael Doherty

David Kelly · Pastor Greg

David previously appeared at Berkeley Rep in It Can’t Happen Here, Fuente Ovejuna, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In 25 seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he appeared in Imaginary Invalid, Pirates of Penzance, My Fair Lady, Henry V, Hamlet, Three Musketeers, Richard II, Coriolanus, Baltimore Waltz, Pravda, Three Sisters, Much Ado About Nothing, Comedy of Errors, Death of a Salesman, Timon of Athens, Humble Boy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Noises Off, Servant of Two Masters, and Cyrano de Bergerac, among others. He also appeared in Harvey at the Guthrie Theater, Lovers and Executioners at South Coast Repertory, American Night at La Jolla Playhouse, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter at the Kennedy Center, and Guys and Dolls at the Wallis Annenberg Center. David is an instructor at Southern Oregon University.

David Kelly

Michael McIntire · Timothy

Michael is making his Berkeley Rep debut. He most recently appeared at the American Conservatory Theater in A Little Night Music; Ah, Wilderness!; A Christmas Carol; and in its MFA Conservatory production of The Rocky Horror Show. Other regional credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Boys Next Door, and Big River (Maples Repertory Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Musical Theater Heritage), and The Kentucky Cycle (Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre). His film credits include Saints Rest, Matched, and If Night Comes. Michael recently received his MFA in acting from ACT.

Michael McIntire

Laura Odeh · Margery

Laura is delighted to be making her debut at Berkeley Rep. She has appeared on Broadway in The Rivals (Lincoln Center Theatre). Her off-Broadway credits include The Aristocrats, Gaslight, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession (the Irish Repertory Theatre), A Body of Water (Primary Stages), and King Lear (the Public Theater). Regional productions include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly (Marin Theatre Company), King Lear (Goodman Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC), 33 Variations (La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage), and The Cherry Orchard (Yale Repertory Theatre). Her television and film credits include The Other Woman; Synecdoche, NY; The Unusuals; and Guiding Light. She has worked with such directors as Robert Falls, James Lapine, Mark Lamos, Bill Rauch, Moisés Kaufman, Charlie Kaufman, and Don Roos. Laura received her MFA from NYU Graduate Acting and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

Laura Odeh

Carolina Sanchez · Jessica

Carolina most recently appeared at Berkeley Rep in It Can’t Happen Here (Sissy). Her off-Broadway credits include Iowa (Amanda) at Playwrights Horizons. Her regional credits include Milk Like Sugar (Margie) at the Huntington Theatre Company, workshops of the musical Murder at the Gates written by Steven Sater (Audrey), and the national tour of West Side Story (Rosalia/Maria U.S.). Carolina is a recent graduate of Westminster College of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in music.

Carolina Sanchez


Best actor ever. All the awards. MFA from skool of hard knocks.

The actors and stage manager are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Miraculously funny…gleefully subversive…David Ivers slyly directs this wonderfully blasphemous comedy…It’s miraculously funny, at a time when many of us need a laugh, but it’s also acutely insightful about the yearning for religion…It’s the eerie symbiotic relationship between Doherty and the puppet that transports this piece out of the realm of comedy and into something so good it’s scary…[Robert] Askins asks some incisive questions about just what constitutes human nature and why we crave a sense of order. Each actor digs into the details of the depravity at hand with unshakable seriousness, which makes it all the funnier. Ivers toggles back and forth between giggles and gore so deftly that it’s hard to catch your breath as the blasphemy bubbles over.”

Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

Hand to God is just the spiritual exploration we deserve at this point in our sordid human existence. Imagine if the current administration reimagined Sesame Street in its own twisted, greedy, egocentric, power-mad image and you might get something like Robert Askins’ hit play…Michael Doherty brings a sweet, blinky reserve to Jason that contrasts nicely with the raunchy spewing of Tyrone, the Muppet-y creature that is slowly taking over his life and giving him an actual personality. Doherty’s whirligig performance is the spinning center of the show, and he’s terrific under the fast-paced direction of David Ivers…There’s a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in this quick 85-minute, two-act show as well as abundant gasps.”

Theater Dogs

Hand to God is a sparkling 100-minutes of comedy and calamity…What is remarkable about Hand to God is how the audience seems to view Tyrone as human, separate and apart from Jason. That’s how talented at acting and puppetry Michael Doherty is as Jason/Tyrone.”


If you’re the kind of person for whom Avenue Q feels more like Sesame Street, who wanted more South Park in The Book of Mormon, then the West Coast premiere of Hand to God…will be manna to your foul, foul desires…In [Robert] Askins’ vision, deviance and debauchery aren’t that different from fervent piety, deep faith, the longing for purity and goodness. They’re all ardent urges, and in seeking to tame some and inflame others, the church often gets its wires crossed—a point that makes every joke, every scandalous sight gag, land with extra bite, some bites drawing gobs of blood.”

San Francisco Chronicle

[A] foul-mouthed, fun-packed play about the urges that drive good men (and women, and boys) to dirty deeds…Mr. Askins possesses a perfect ear for teenage voices and the aggressive jostling for position among troubled or misfit adolescents.”

New York Times (first off-Broadway run)

Almost as disturbing as it is uproarious…ferociously funny…”

New York Times (second off-Broadway run)

Mr. Askins’s black comedy about the divided human soul…stands out as a misfit both merry and scary, and very welcome…Hand to God is not a horror story, or at least not a horror story in which the forces of evil are supernatural. What makes the play so sneakily resonant is how Mr. Askins exposes the base impulses, the sexual, self-destructive, potentially violent ones, that just about everyone harbors to some small degree…You can enjoy Hand to God merely as a festival of filthy hilarity, like The Book of Mormon. But as I watched the play this year, for the third time, I found myself peering more closely into its psychological depths, and finding in it a weird mirror of our unsettling times.”

New York Times (Broadway run)

It entertains the devil out of you.”

Time Out New York

At once a grizzly thriller, a crazily hilarious puppet drama with nods to Avenue Q and a moving exploration of a young, churchgoing adult crying out for help, [Hand to God] is a horror shocker, good date-night fun for college kids, and a deeply compassionate work of theater about ordinary Americans struggling with loss and trying to find their way in the spiritual dark…[It] offer[s] a great deal of outlandish, unpretentious, R-rated craziness…I was blown away.”

Chicago Tribune

A scabrously funny scenario that steadily darkens into suspense and Grand Guignol horror, this fiery clash of the id, ego and superego is also an audacious commentary on the uses of faith, both to comfort and control us.”

Hollywood Reporter

Watch now

Audiences love Hand to God

Hear what they say about this “ferociously funny” comedy. Don’t worry, we caught the spoilers for you.

Official trailer: Hand to God

Get a glimpse at the “miraculously funny” and “gleefully subversive” Tony Award-nominated play by Robert Askins.

Hand to God teaser: Episode One

What the @#$% is this about?

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Docent talks and discussions

Pre-show docent talks

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.

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Teen Night

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.

  • Friday, February 3, 2017

Teen Night begins at 6:30pm at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Tickets are $10. Learn more. To reserve your space, call Teen Council at 510 647–2984 or email teencouncil@berkeleyrep.org.

Post-show discussions

Stick around after select performances for lively Q&A sessions with our artists on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.

  • Thursday, February 23, 2017
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017
  • Friday, March 10, 2017