JAN 21–26, 2022
Running time: 90 min, no intermission
Following her bingeworthy hit Netflix series Pretend It’s a City, Fran Lebowitz returns for six performances only to Berkeley Rep where she played to sold-out crowds in our Roda Theatre in 2018. In a cultural landscape filled with endless pundits and talking heads, Fran Lebowitz stands out as one of our most insightful social commentators. With her acerbic views on everything from current events and pet peeves to politics and the media, each performance promises to be unique and highly entertaining.
Fran Lebowitz has worked odd jobs, such as taxi driving, belt peddling, and apartment cleaning (“with a small specialty in Venetian blinds”), before being hired by Andy Warhol as a columnist for Interview. That was followed by a stint at Mademoiselle. Her first book, a collection of essays titled Metropolitan Life, was a bestseller, as was a second collection, Social Studies. By turns ironic, facetious, deadpan, sarcastic, wry, wisecracking, and waggish, Lebowitz’s prose is wickedly entertaining. Her two books are collected in the Fran Lebowitz Reader, with a new preface by the author. Lebowitz is also the author of the children’s book, Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas. Between 2001 to 2007, Lebowitz had a recurring role as Judge Janice Goldberg on the television drama Law & Order. She also had a part in the Martin Scorsese-directed film, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). A raconteur if ever there was one, Lebowitz has long been a regular on various talk shows including those hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, and Bill Maher. In an interview with the Paris Review, Lebowitz said “I’m not a nervous person. I’m not afraid to be on TV. I’m only afraid when I write. When I’m at my desk I feel like most people would feel if they went on TV.” She can also be seen in various documentary films including the American Experience series on New York City, as well as Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016), Regarding Susan Sontag (2014), and Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (1990), among others. In 2010 Martin Scorsese directed a documentary about Lebowitz for HBO titled Public Speaking. A limited documentary series, Pretend It's a City, also directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered on Netflix in 2021, and was nominated for the 2021 Emmys in the Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series category. In 2021 she was given the Forte dei Marmi Festival della Satira Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lebowitz was named to Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 2008. She remains a style icon. Lebowitz lives in New York City, as she does not believe that she would be allowed to live anywhere else.
Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and founding director of the Greater Good Science Center
Dacher Keltner is a professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center. Dacher’s research focuses on the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, beauty, and humility, as well as power, social class, and inequality. Dacher is the author of several hundred scientific articles, several books, including Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Compassionate Instinct, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, and AWE (to be published January 3, 2023), and has written for popular outlets like the New York Times. Dacher has won many research, teaching, and service awards, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has consulted for Apple, Pinterest, Google, the Sierra Club, and was a scientific consultant for Pixar’s Inside Out and for the Center for Constitutional Rights in its work to outlaw solitary confinement.
Founder of Define American
Jose Antonio Vargas is the founder of Define American, a non-profit culture change organization dedicated to humanizing the narratives surrounding immigrants. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Emmy-nominated filmmaker, he is the author of the bestselling memoir DEAR AMERICA: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperCollins), and is currently working on a book on race, immigration, and identity titled White is Not a Country (Knopf), to be published in 2023. A Tony-nominated producer of Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, he was also a producer, with Schreck, on the Broadway run of Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s Pass Over. A product of the San Francisco Bay Area, an elementary school named after Vargas opened in his hometown of Mountain View, California in August 2019. Follow @joseiswriting and @defineamerican on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Writer and educator
Mark Danner is a writer and educator who has covered foreign affairs, war, and politics for three decades. He has covered wars and political violence in Central America, Haiti, the Balkans, and the Middle East, among other stories. A longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, he is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and many other publications. His books include The Massacre at El Mozote, Torture and Truth, Stripping Bare the Body, and Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War. He is currently Class of 1961 Distinguished Chair in Undergraduate Education at Berkeley, where he teaches in the Graduate School of Journalism and the Department of English. His work has been recognized with a National Magazine Award, three Overseas Press Awards, a Guggenheim, an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, and an Emmy. In 1999, Danner was named a MacArthur Fellow. markdanner.com
Senior Editor for KQED’s Politics and Government Desk
Scott Shafer came to KQED in 1998 to host the statewide California Report. Prior to that he had extended stints in politics and government. Using that inside experience, Scott is now Senior Editor for KQED's Politics and Government Desk where he provides reporting, hosting, and analysis while overseeing the politics desk. Scott co-hosts the weekly show and podcast Political Breakdown and he collaborated on The Political Mind of Jerry Brown, an eight-part series about the life and extraordinary political career of the former governor. For fun, he plays water polo with the San Francisco Tsunami.
Creator and host of the WNYC podcast Death, Sex & Money
Anna Sale is the creator and host of Death, Sex & Money, the interview podcast from WNYC Studios about “the things we think about a lot and need to talk about more.” After debuting at the top of the Apple podcast charts in 2014, Death, Sex & Money was named the #1 podcast of the year by New York Magazine in 2015. Anna won a Gracie for best podcast host in 2016 and the show won the 2018 Webby and 2021 Ambie for best interview show. Before launching Death, Sex & Money, Anna covered politics for nearly a decade. She is the author of the book Let's Talk About Hard Things, which The New Yorker wrote "shows us how supportive listening happens." She grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Berkeley with her husband and two daughters.
Peabody Award-winning documentary maker, film programmer, and interviewer
Peter L. Stein is a Peabody Award-winning documentary maker, film programmer, and interviewer based in San Francisco. As a public speaker and moderator, he has conducted on-stage and broadcast interviews with such diverse talent as Kirk Douglas, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Carlos Santana, Norman Lear, Lily Tomlin, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Miranda July; he has taught both popular and graduate level courses in film, appeared as a guest on such programs as NPR's Fresh Air and Weekend Edition, and moderates the San Francisco chapter of The Cinema Club. During 11 years at PBS station KQED, he created a wide range of documentaries and series for national public television, including the six-hour series Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco, which garnered a Peabody Award (for The Castro, which Peter wrote, produced, and directed) and several regional Emmy Awards for The Fillmore (writer/producer) and Chinatown (executive producer). He recently produced and directed a biography of legendary chef Jacques Pépin for the PBS series American Masters, and his culinary television series have garnered four James Beard Awards. Peter’s latest documentary, Moving San Francisco, addresses the history and future of Bay Area transit. He was Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival for eight years, and since 2014 has served as Senior Programmer for Frameline, the world’s longest-running and largest LGBTQ+ film festival. He is a third-generation San Franciscan, and among other idiosyncrasies constructed a crossword puzzle published in the New York Times (on a Wednesday). More at peterlstein.com and @peterlstein.
Michael stage managed over 100 productions for Berkeley Rep since arriving as an intern in 1984 and served as the production stage manager from 1994 through 2020. (he/him/his)
Light Board Op
* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe