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Octet digital program

Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Signature Theatre present
The West Coast premiere of

Octet

By special arrangement with
Diana DiMenna and Plate Spinner Productions

Music, lyrics, book, and vocal arrangements by Dave Malloy
Directed by Annie Tippe
Music supervision and music direction by Or Matias

April 20–May 29, 2022
Peet’s Theatre

This show has no intermission.

We acknowledge that Berkeley Rep sits on the unceded ancestral lands of the Ohlone people.

 

Meet the Creative team | Meet the Company | Discover Octet

I sat in the theatre, this theatre, the other night as the actors came onto the stage for the first time. The work they had done in their several weeks in the rehearsal room was rigorous and thorough, and they were ready for this next step. (This is what we always strive for, but readiness is a spectrum and sometimes there is some catch-up work to do!) The first hour or so in the actual theatre is always about touring a cast around the set, pointing out any safety issues, introducing them to our amazing performance crew, showing them how to get to the dressing rooms, etc etc etc. Then the actors gathered onstage together to begin to work through the surprisingly complicated sound systems that support this show.

 

And then they began to sing. Eight voices coming together. Timeless, primal, unmediated by any additional instrumentation. And simultaneously, because they were singing the music of Dave Malloy, complex, layered, full of wit and sophistication. Deeply human and moving in a way that sidestepped my intellectual response and went straight to my heart.

 

When I saw the first production of Octet in New York, during what I somewhat ruefully call The Before Times, I knew this was a show I wanted to bring to Berkeley Rep. Dave has developed work at Berkeley Rep in The Ground Floor, and has many fans within the company, as well as in the Bay Area. His collaboration with Annie Tippe has yielded a series of beautiful productions. And to do a show that asks each of us to examine our own relationship to technology, here in proximity to Silicon Valley, seemed like a great opportunity.

 

I don’t know anyone who would say that the last two years haven’t profoundly shifted the way we engage with technology. We have depended on it for connection, for entertainment, to allow us to work in collaboration with our colleagues while spread across geography and time zones, to shop for groceries, and toilet paper, to attend school. And so this production suddenly feels all the more relevant. But part of what I find so moving about this piece is that it is also about people yearning to connect to other people, in real life, in real time. Each one of the characters in Octet must wrestle with their own specific obstacles to that kind of intimacy, as each one of us must navigate the challenges of coming back into the shared space that is the theatre. I know that people will approach this journey in their own way, in their own time. And I’m deeply grateful that when they do, they will encounter these extraordinary artists whose immense gifts will be shared with generosity, and met by the appetite and engagement for which Berkeley Rep audiences are known.

 

Thank you for being here with us, and for being our partners in the telling of these stories. Enjoy!

 

Warmly,
Johanna Pfaelzer

Octet. Johanna selected this show for a different time and place. And yet, as we gathered for its first rehearsal, we were all struck by how perfectly attuned the show is to these times! Connectedness and isolation, they are ideas that speak to us in new ways now. We are all finding our own ways to come out of the isolation of these past two years and looking around at the world of possibilities that await us. This is also a moment of thinking, with sadness, relief, reluctance…about what we’ve lost, or relinquished, during this time as well.

 

Here at Berkeley Rep, we have lost indeed. We have lost colleagues, we have lost time, some of our muscles have atrophied. And yet the thrill of return has outweighed so much of that burden of loss. Re-opening our doors has been monumental for an organization, and an industry, that was shuttered for two years. So, re-opening has felt glorious. And not just on our stages. At our Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, it has meant a return of real people in real classrooms, renewed energy coming from our Teen Council, preparations for our summer youth programs (which are already filling up!), and the beginning of a grand adventure as we start piloting a new program to reach thousands of 9th graders throughout Northern California.

 

Our adult classes are also picking up steam. As you get more and more at ease with venturing out, and as you stretch all your mental and physical muscles, maybe this is the time to stretch your creative muscles too? Take a class! Learn something new. Meet new people. Have an adventure. Berkeley Rep offers a wide range of programs for adults. So does ACT, for those of you in San Francisco. Cal Shakes offers programs, as do many other theatre companies. There is almost endless opportunity. Spring is a time for new beginnings. So maybe try a little creativity? You might find it habit forming.

 

Susie Medak

Production credits

Creative team

 

Dave Malloy is a composer/writer/performer/orchestrator. He has written music for 15 musicals, including Moby-Dick, a four-part musical reckoning with Melville’s classic novel; Octet, a chamber choir musical about internet addiction; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, an electropop opera based on a slice of Tolstoy’s War & Peace (12 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Score, Book, and Orchestrations); Ghost Quartet, a song cycle about love, death, and whiskey; Preludes, a musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff; Little Bunny Foo Foo, a forest entertainment for small people; Three Pianos, a drunken romp through Schubert’s “Winterreise”; and several shows written in the Bay Area, including Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, an anti-academia rock opera (which was commissioned by the Shotgun Players and did a one-night-only performance on Berkeley Rep’s Roda stage in 2009); Beardo, a reinterpretation of the Rasputin myth (Shotgun Players); Sandwich, a musical about killing animals (EXIT Theatre); and Clown Bible, Genesis to Revelation told through clowns (Willard Metalshop Theater/Ten Red Hen). Other notable shows include All Hands, The Sewers, and (The 99-cent) Miss Saigon. He has won three Obie Awards, a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Lortel Award, a Theater World Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, an ASCAP New Horizons Award, and a Jonathan Larson Grant; has been a MacDowell fellow and Composer-in- Residence at Ars Nova; and is a Residency 5 Writer at the Signature Theatre. He lives in New York. davemalloy.com

 

Photo by Matthew Murphy

 

Annie Tippe is a director and creator of new work, music theatre, and film. Recent theatre credits include the premiere of Dave Malloy’s Octet at Signature Theatre Company, for which she won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Direction and was named an SDC Callaway Award Finalist. She also directed the premiere and subsequent tours of Dave Malloy’s award-winning Ghost Quartet. Other credits include the premiere of Leslye Headland’s Cult of Love (IAMA Theatre Company), Bess Wohl’s Continuity (Goodman Theatre), Tony Meneses’ The Hombres (Two River), Molly Beach Murphy + Jeanna Phillip’s COWBOY BOB (Village Theatre; New York Stage + Film), and James + Jerome’s Ink (co-directed with Rachel Chavkin, Under the Radar/Met Museum), as well as The Conversationalists (Bushwick Starr). She is a former Ars Nova Director-in-Residence, Drama League Directing Fellow, and alumni of the Williamstown Directing Corps. Upcoming shows include Life After (Goodman Theatre ’22) and COWBOY BOB (Alley Theatre ’23). annietippe.com (she/her/hers)

 

Photo by JJ Geiger

 

Or Matias is an Obie Award-winning music director, composer, lyricist, and orchestrator based in NYC. His original musical, The Wave, received its world premiere at the prestigious Landestheater Linz in 2020 and won top prizes at the Germany Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. As music director he has worked extensively with Josh Groban, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ingrid Michaelson, Phillipa Soo, Dave Malloy, Rachel Chavkin, and countless others. Or was the music director and conductor for the hit Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. Other select music director and music supervisor credits include Octet at the Signature Theatre (NYT Critic’s Pick; Special Citation Obie Award), for which he also co-produced the cast album (released by Nonesuch Records and Warner Music Group); First Daughter Suite at the Public Theater (NYT Critic’s Pick); Preludes at Lincoln Center Theater, in which he also co-starred as Sergei Rachmaninoff (Lortel Award nomination); and Moby Dick at American Repertory Theater (Elliot Norton Award nomination). Or was a member of the 2020 New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio and the 2019 Composer-in-Residence at the venerated SPACE on Ryder Farm. He is on faculty at Manhattan School of Music, and serves as music director of ActionPlay, an educational theatre group for performers on the autism spectrum. He holds a BM from The Juilliard School and an MFA from NYU. Or is a Yamaha Artist. ormatiasmusic.com @ormatias

 

Photo by Steph Oberle

Amy Rubin is a designer of environments for theatre, opera, dance, and live events. Recent work in New York includes Octet (Signature Theatre), Cyrano (The New Group), Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Signature Theatre), Gloria: A Life (Daryl Roth Theatre), Miles for Mary (Playwrights Horizons), Acquanetta (Prototype Festival), Aging Magician  (New Victory Theater). Her opera designs include upcoming Omar (Spoleto Festival/LA Opera), Snow Day (Houston Grand Opera), Blue (Michigan Opera Theatre). Amy’s work has been featured at American Repertory Theater, McCarter Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Walker Arts Center, MassMoCA, Z Space, The Kimmel Center, and  numerous TED Talks. (she/her/hers)

Brittany Vasta is a Brooklyn-based scenic designer for live performance. Recent NYC work includes Fucking A (Fordham’s Pope Auditorium); Cardboard Piano (The Juilliard School); Octet (Signature Theatre); Rinse, Repeat (Signature Theatre); Life Sucks (Theatre Row), Bill Irwin’s Harlequin & Pantalone (NY City Center); Happy Birthday, Wanda June (The Duke); I thought I would die but I didn’t (The Tank); Sehnsucht (JACK). Regional work includes Redwood (Portland Center Stage), Welcome to Fear City (Kansas City Repertory Theatre), August: Osage County (Resident Ensemble Players, University of Delaware), My Name Is Asher Lev (Portland Stage Company), Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey). Recent Associate Design: Chicken and Biscuits (Broadway, Circle in the Square), The Green (Lincoln Center public art installation), The Lifespan of a Fact (Broadway, Studio 54), Fairview (Soho Rep). She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her co-set design of Octet. MFA, NYU. brittanyvasta.com | USA 829 (she/her/hers)

Brenda is a New York-based artist and costume designer for stage and film. Her career began as an assistant on and off Broadway working with designers from William Ivey Long to Ann Roth. She received a MFA in design from a NYU Tisch School of the Arts. There she had the opportunity to work with theatre and film directors with whom she would develop long-term collaborative relationships. Brenda’s design career started in the independent film and theatre scene and over time matured into larger ventures with many of her collaborators. She has had the opportunity to work in many genres and styles and do projects as varied as Saturday Night Live, Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winner: The Disaster Artist, and The Wolf Hour with Naomi Watts. She recently worked on the Academy Award-nominated film CODA directed by Sian Heder and Simon Rich’s An American Pickle directed by Brandon Trost. Brenda has also designed numerous off-Broadway and regional plays, many with Rachel Chavkin and the New York theatre company THE TEAM, with whom she serves as associate costume designer. She has also worked with Lyndsey Turner, Daniel Aukin, Heather Christian, and Annie Tippe and, most recently, designed Dave Malloy’s and Rachel Chavkin’s Moby-Dick at American Repertory Theater.

Christopher Bowser is a production, event, and food/hospitality designer/host based in Brooklyn and upstate NY. He is a frequent collaborator of Salty Brine’s Living Record Collection (Joe’s Pub). Recently: production design for Constellations (Geva Theatre), production design for Heather Christian’s Animal Wisdom filmed at Woolly Mammoth, service design for Another Rose onboard Virgin Voyages new ship Scarlet Lady. His work has been recently seen around New York City and at ART Oberon in Cambridge, MA, The Curran Theatre in SF, Seattle Theatre Group, Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, MA, and festivals in Warsaw, Edinburgh, and Nottingham UK. christopherjbowser.com

Hidenori “Hide” Nakajo is a sound designer based in New York. His design work includes Other World (Delaware Theatre Company), Hold These Truths (People’s Light), Autumn Royal (Irish Repertory Theatre), Moby-Dick (American Repertory Theater), Guys & Dolls (Guthrie Theater), Octet (Signature Theatre, NYC), Ghost Quartet (New York Theatre Workshop),  Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo (SoHo Playhouse), and A Hatful of Rain (Lee Strasberg). He also served notable designers as an associate sound designer for The Front Page (Broadway), Darlin’ Corey (Alliance Theatre), Benny & Joon (Old Globe Theatre), Little Gem (Irish Repertory Theatre), and as an assistant designer for The Lightning Thief (Broadway), Be More Chill (Broadway), Allegiance (Broadway), and Gigi (Broadway). He enjoys taking the role as a translator/coordinator for the productions by visiting Japanese theatre companies. The past projects include One Green Bottle (La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club) and the Lincoln Center Festival 2015-17. He is the recipient of an Obie Award Special Citation for Collaboration on the Music and Sound for Octet and an Elliot Norton Award for Moby-Dick. His nominations include Drama Desk Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, and Henry Hewes Design Awards for Octet. (he/him/his)

Sam is an associate sound designer and programmer based in New York. His associate design work on Broadway includes A Strange Loop, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and The Inheritance. Other associate credits include Oklahoma! (First National Tour, St. Ann’s Warehouse), Octet (Signature Theatre), Enemy of the People (Park Avenue Armory), BALLS (One Year Lease at 59E59), and {my lingerie play} (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre). (he/him/his)

Duncan Stewart CSA and Benton Whitley CSA. Broadway/NY: Paradise Square; Hadestown (Artios Award); Chicago the Musical; Rock of Ages; Lightning Thief; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Elf; On the Town; Pippin; La Cage aux Folles; Radio City Christmas Spectacular. TV/Film: Netflix, 20th Century Fox, NBC, Lionsgate, Disney Channel. West End/U.K.: Hadestown, Thriller Live, Menier Chocolate Factory. Tours: Hadestown, Hairspray, Waitress, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, Into the Woods, We Will Rock You. Regional: A.R.T., Berkeley Rep, Alley, Bay Street, For The Record, TUTS, Hollywood Bowl, McCarter, Signature, RCCL. Follow: @stewartwhitley and stewartwhitley.com.

Lizzy is thrilled to rejoin the Octet team at Berkeley Rep. Broadway: Linda Vista. Selected off-Broadway credits include: Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992Cambodian Rock Band; Octet; Boesman and Lena; Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Signature Theatre Company); Toni Stone (Roundabout Theatre Company); Notes from Now (Prospect Theater Company); Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (Elevator Repair Service); Do You Feel Anger? (Vineyard Theatre); Theatre for One (Octopus Theatricals); King Lear (New York Classical Theatre); and 1969: The Second Man (Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop). (she/her/hers)

Dani returns to Berkeley Rep for Octet after a successful run with Swept Away. Local stage management credits: Culture Clash (Still) in America (Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Cymbeline, Communion, and Her Portmanteau (ACT); A Year of Magical Thinking, Detroit ’67, Dry Powder, Luna Gale, and Splendour (Aurora). ACT assistant stage management credits: Testmatch, Heisenberg, The Birthday Party, and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Other notable stage management credits include A Thousand Splendid Suns (Arena Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre). (she/her/hers)

Machel Ross is a Dominican American director and creative collaborator based in NYC, who specializes in the development of new work and aesthetic world building. Regardless of medium, she’s invested in generating rigorous images, in support of framing stories to their fullest potential. She’s developed work with Aziza Barnes (NANA), Agnes Borinsky (A Song of Song), Daniella De Jesús (Mambo Sauce), Deaf West ( T ), PigPen Theatre Company (Phantom Folktales), Ellen Winter (This House Is Your Home), and directed the world premiere of Jeremy O. Harris’ Black Exhibition at The Bushwick Starr. Machel is a 2022 Ars Nova Visionary Artist in Residence, a 2020-2022 WP Directing Fellow, a 2020 Sundance Theater Lab fellow, and a 2019 grant recipient of the Women’s Fund for Film, TV and Theatre for her short film Signs He Made at Home. BFA-NYU Playwrights Horizons Theater School. (she/her/hers)

Simone Allen is a music director, pianist, arranger, and songwriter based in NYC. She recently music-directed Sweeney Todd at the Hangar Theatre, featuring Nik Walker and Donna Lynne Champlin. Simone grew up in the Bay Area and she’s thrilled to be at Berkeley Rep this spring with Octet. Broadway: The Cher Show. Off-Broadway/other: Octet (Signature Theatre, AMD), Black No More (The New Group), Lempicka (La Jolla Playhouse), Suffs (The Public Theater, readings), The Karate Kid, Folk Wandering (Pipeline, AMD), Lake Lucille Chekhov Project, Cruel Intentions, Moulin Rouge (lab), and As You Like It (Public Works). BA Music Tufts University. simoneallenmusic.com

 

Award-winning Music Director Sean Kana is best known for his work on Berkeley Rep’s Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, where he served as Associate Music Director. Shortly after, Sean was invited to serve in the same capacity on the pre-Broadway tour of Ain’t Too Proud in 2018, traveling to New York, Washington DC, Toronto, and Los Angeles. Currently, Sean is the Music Director and Co-Composer/Arranger of new musical work, Larry the Musical, which tells the story of Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong. Sean also currently serves as the Resident Music Director of Broadway by the Bay. His most notable accomplishments were In The Heights (TBA Best Music Direction), Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, and Beauty and the Beast. Sean also is a respondent and masterclass teacher for Lenaea Music Theatre Festivals, where he teaches vocal techniques to musical theatre singing. Sean has been involved in many album recordings and he just completed a holiday album with Broadway by the Bay. Recently, Sean worked at Sitka Fine Arts (Sitka, Alaska) where he served as Music Director for Little Shop of Horrors. In addition to Sean serving as the music director of Swept Away, he also serves as the music contractor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He has worked at other theatre companies, such as TheatreWorks and Center Repertory Theatre. He taught vocal techniques for actors in the MFA program at American Conservatory Theater. He has toured to Cuba, China, Italy, France, and London and throughout the United States music directing, playing keyboards and singing, giving concerts and masterclasses. Sean is an accomplished vocal technician, teaching the fusion of musical styles under the classical technique. Sean obtained his degree from San Francisco State University and is well-known in the Bay Area for being a music director for many different venues. He is a celebrated musician and has a talent for teaching and unleashing creativity. seankana.com (he/him/his)

Original Casting
Dave Caparelliotis · Henry Russell Berstein

 

Additional Casting
Dori Jacob

 

A2
Courtney Jean

 

A3
C. Swan-Streepy

 

COVID Safety Officer
Kathleen Parsons

 

Deck Track Sub
Megan McClintock

 

Electrics
Nikola Capp · Travis Clark · Tristan Fabiunke · Jason Joo · Michael Kessell · Charis Lam · Charlie Mejia · Corey Schaeffer · Chloe Schweizer · Caitlin Steinmann · C. Swan-Streepy

 

Props
Kate Fitt · Garner Takahashi Keene · Sofie Miller · Alaiya Morgane · Samantha Visbal · Brittany Watkins

 

Scene Shop
Brad Hopper · Isaac Jacobs · J Joseph · August Lewallen · Jessica Loney · Carl Martin · Sean Miller · Zach Wziontka

 

Scenic Art
Nathaniel Bice · Katie Holmes · Cayla Ray-Perry · Ember Streshinsky · Sam Welsing · Jenny Yang

 

Assistant Director
Abigail Holland (Peter F. Sloss Artistic Fellow)

 

Assistant Production Manager
Emily Betts (Production Management Fellow)

 

Assistant Lighting Designer
Kiahana Toomer (Electrics Fellow)

 

Assistant Company Manager
Naomi Schiller (Company Management Fellow)

 

Production Assistant
Olivia McQuerry (Stage Management Fellow)

 

Student Study Guide Author
Elijah Punzal (Education Fellow)

 

Props Artisan
Robin Maegawa-Goeser (Properties Fellow)

 

Scenic Painting
Jimmy Nguyen (Scenic Art Fellow)

 

Carpenter
Margret Wentworth (Scenic Construction Fellow)

 

Costume Support
Rachel Mandelstam (Costumes Fellow)

 

Audio Support
Akari Izumi (Harry Weininger Sound Fellow)

 

Grant Writing and Event Planning Support
Maya Simon (Development Fellow)

 

Artistic Support
Des’ree Brown (Bret C. Harte Artistic Fellow)

 

This production was rehearsed in part at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street, NY, NY 10036
signaturetheatre.org

 

Medical consultation for Berkeley Rep provided by Agi E. Ban DC, John Carrigg MD, Cindy J. Chang MD, Christina Corey MD, Neil Claveria PT, Patricia I. Commer DPT, Brenton Dowdy DPT, Kathy Fang MD PhD, Steven Fugaro MD, Whitney R. Johnson DDS, Olivia Lang MD, Allen Ling PT, and Christina S. Wilmer OD.

Company

 

Adam is elated to be returning to this transcendent piece after originating the role of Ed in 2019 at the Signature Theatre. Broadway/national tour: In Transit (OCR), The Phantom of the Opera. Select NYC/regional: Love Life, On Your Toes (City Center Encores), 2 seasons with NYGASP, Octet (OCR), Edwin, Tamar of the River (OCR), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. TV: House of Cards, Oddities. Bass voice in numerous cast recordings and musical theatre demos. Parallel to performing, Adam is a New Jersey-based antiques and artifacts dealer: @Dark.Interiors. Love to my family, Dave, Annie, DSM, Laura, and Victor. adambashian.com @AdamBashian

 

Photo by Jesse Korman

 

A Bay Area native, Kim is over the moon to make her Berkeley Rep debut with Octet! She originated the role of Karly in the world premiere production at New York City’s Signature Theatre. Other New York credits include Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s Alice by Heart (MCC Theater), Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park), Folk Wandering (Pipeline Theatre Company), as well as numerous developmental workshops with The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, and Atlantic Theater Company, among others. Regional credits include the world premiere of Dave Malloy’s Moby-Dick (American Repertory Theater), Twelfth Night (Alley Theatre), Chasing the Song (La Jolla Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tantrum Theater), and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Kim can be seen onscreen in Call Jane, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, the independent feature Friday Afternoon, WeCrashed, and Dr. Death. As a vocalist, she can be heard on the original cast albums of Octet and Alice by Heart, Shaina Taub’s newly released Songs of the Great Hill, and in Liann Kaye’s award-winning miniseries, The Blessing. She earned her BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch and her MFA in Acting from UC San Diego. @kblanck (she/her/hers)

 

Photo by Ellis Dawson

 

Alex is making his Berkeley debut! His Broadway credits include SpongeBob SquarePants and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. New York/regional theatre credits include the off-Broadway premiere of Octet at Signature Theatre (for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award), The Unsinkable Molly Brown at Transport Group, Goodnight, Tyler at the Alliance Theatre, The Pirates of Penzance at Barrington Stage, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Guthrie Theater. Other credits include touring Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic as Scar in Disney On Classic and Adele: Live in New York City at Radio City Music Hall for NBC. alexgibsononline.com (he/him/his)

 

Photo by SubUrban Photography 

 

A New Jersey native, Justin is thrilled to make his Berkeley Repertory debut! Selected off-Broadway credits include Octet (and original cast recording) at the Signature Theatre and bare at New World Stages. He was an ensemble soloist in NBC’s Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar Live starring John Legend. Regional credits include Orlando in a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Milwaukee Repertory Theater with music by The Beatles, Martín in the new musical A Crossing at Barrington Stage, Che in Evita at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby Jeremy in Fun Home at Baltimore Center Stage, Usnavi in In the Heights at the Ordway Center, and originating the role of Armando in the regional tour of Paint Your Wagon which was revived at the 5th Avenue Theatre, among others. You can follow his meme addiction on Instagram: @JGregoryLopez

 

Photo by Michael Kushner

 

J.D. is thrilled to be making his Berkeley Rep debut with Octet after appearing in the world premiere at Signature Theatre, for which he and the original cast were awarded the Drama Desk for Outstanding Ensemble. Other past productions include Moby Dick at American Repertory Theater, X: or, Betty Shabazz v. the Nation with The Acting Company, black odyssey at CalShakes, Venice at The Public Theater, A Civil War Christmas at New York Theatre Workshop, the first Broadway revival of Les Misérables, Jelly’s Last Jam at Alliance Theatre for which he was awarded the Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical, Iphigenia 2.0 at Signature Theatre, A Winter’s Tale at Dallas Theater Center Public Works, Hands Up with National Black Theatre, The Box at The Foundry, Galois with 2g, Greater Angels with Exit Pursued by a Bear, Monstrosity with 13P, Avenue X with Dreamlight Theatre Company, Once On This Island at Baltimore Center Stage, Hair at Barrington Stage Company, and Julius Caesar and Two Gentlemen of Verona with The Acting Company. TV credits include Shameless, Madam Secretary, SVU, Shades of Blue, Hawthorne, and Numb3rs. J.D. can currently be heard in Marcus Gardley’s adaptation of King Lear at Playonpodcasts.com. Training: Carnegie Mellon University. (he/him/his)

 

Photo by Tess Steinkolk

 

Isabel is making her Berkeley Rep debut! She can currently be seen on PBS’ Great Performances as a lead soloist with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein’s MASS. Isabel’s off-Broadway credits include First Daughter Suite and GIANT (The Public Theater). Her national tour, regional, and concert credits include In the Heights (First National Tour), Little Shop of Horrors (Hangar Theatre), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Engeman Theater and Flatrock Playhouse), Show Boat (Gateway Playhouse), West Side Story, Candide (The Philadelphia Orchestra), Leonard Bernstein’s MASS (Ravinia). Her most recent film, television, and recording credits include In the Heights (Warner Bros.), Blue Bloods (CBS), A Gifted Man (CBS), The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS), and Martin Eden. Instagram: @mynamesIsabel (she/her/hers)

 

Photo by Michael Kushner

 

Margo was last seen on stage starring in Playwrights Horizon’s production of Michael Friedman and Daniel Goldstein’s Unknown Soldier, directed by Trip Cullman. Margo received a Special Ensemble Award at the 2020 Drama Desk Awards for her performance in Octet’s award-winning world premiere at Signature Theatre Company. On Broadway, Margo won critical acclaim for her performance as Adrian in the Broadway musical Rocky, a role she originated and for which she was nominated for a Drama League Award. She later starred in the lead role of Jane in Circle in the Square’s Broadway production of the a cappella musical In Transit. Other off-Broadway credits include Playwrights Horizons’ The Thanksgiving Play; Tamar in Marisa Michelson and Josh Cohen’s acclaimed Tamar and the River, for which she received a 2014 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical; and in Rattlestick Playwrights Theater’s The Undeniable Sound of Right Now. She has developed work at The Public, MTC, Playwrights Horizons, NAMT, The O’Neill Center, New Dramatists, and has originated roles in pieces for award-winning writers, including David Byrne, Ahrens & Flaherty, Goldrich & Heisler, Adam Gwon, and more. Television: FBI: International, Instinct, Elementary, The Good Cop, and Boardwalk Empire. Margo is the cofounder of the nonprofit organization Racket, learn more at weracket.com. Margo’s debut album, 77th Street, is out now. margoseibert.com @margo_seibert (she/her/hers)

 

Photo by Natalie Powers

 

Kuhoo is thrilled to reprise the role of Velma in Octet after winning the Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards for her performance in the Signature Theatre production. The role has been an incredible blessing, and they are excited to share it with you! Kuhoo is the breakout star of Hulu’s original film Plan B and will soon star in the Netflix film Murder Mystery 2. Other credits include the Oscar-nominated The Big Sick. As a musician and vocalist, Kuhoo has performed in music venues all over New York City including Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub, and 54 Below. @therealkuhoo (she/they)

 

Photo by Francis Hill

 

Dean is a Berkeley Boy, born and raised, honored to make his Berkeley Rep debut. Bay Area credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Good Person of Szechwan, The Winter’s Tale (California Shakespeare Theater); Twelfth Night, The Three Musketeers, Love’s Labour’s Lost (Marin Shakespeare Company); Hand to God, Bad Jews (Left Edge Theatre — TBA Award); Groundhog Day: The Musical (San Francisco Playhouse — San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award). Regional credits include The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew (Vermont Shakespeare Festival); Thrill Me (Luna Stage); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); The Huntsmen (Portland Playhouse); The Rub (New Orleans Fringe Festival). Dean toured to 25 states with the musical The Lightning Thief. New York credits include the world premiere of Dave Harris’ Tambo & Bones at Playwrights Horizons. Dean holds a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where we was a proud member of the Vocaholics a cappella group. Dean studied at the Stella Adler Studio and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 2020 Dean founded a pandemic-era digital theatre collective called the Anti-Isolation Arts Factory (@ai_artsfactory) to give creative opportunities to out of work artists. deanlinnard.com (he/him/his)

 

Photo by Deborah Lopez

 

Roeen has been absolutely in love with theatre since high school and last year was able to do his first paid show as an understudy/swing in Bratpack by For The Record at Feinstein’s at the Hotel Nikko. From youth theatre to the professional world, he can’t wait to perform for you! IG:@roeennooran (he/him/his)

 

Photo by Rocket Isaac

 

Lili is thrilled to be making her Berkeley Rep debut joining this amazing team! Pre-pandemic, she was at Second Stage in Young Jean Lee’s We’re Gonna Die. She originated lead roles in actor/musician musical The Hello Girls (Off Broadway, Kennedy Center, Symphony Space, Original Cast Album) and Only Human (Off Broadway w/Gary Busey). Select regional credits include A Chorus Line (Ivoryton Playhouse), Rent (Skylight Opera), Cabaret (Milwaukee Rep), Miss Saigon (The Rev), Pippin, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Playhouse on the Square). Her NYC debut was as a soloist in world premiere Garden of Light: Disney Millennium Symphonies at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic. BFA from NYU Tisch. @lilithomas22 (she/her/hers)

 

Photo by Daryl Getman

 

Nicole is thrilled to make her Berkeley Rep debut with Octet after understudying all four women in the Signature Theatre Company production! Off-Broadway: Folk Wandering (Pipeline Theatre Company), The Imbible (New World Stages). National tour: Vocalosity. Other favorites include Shapeshifters: A Queer Comic Book Musical, Prospect Hill: A 90s Park Slope Lesbian Musical, Nuclear Love Affair (HERE). Nicole has performed at the Delacorte Theatre, The Bell House (with John Early), Ars Nova, Rockwood Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, Carnegie Hall, The McKittrick Hotel, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and probably your wedding. She has also performed regularly with Shaina Taub’s Broadway sketch comedy group Shiz at UCB & Asylum NYC. Nicole is currently working on her third EP! BFA NYU/Tisch. @nicole___weiss (she/they)

 

Photo by Lynn Andrews

Diana DiMenna and her colleagues Rachel Sussman and Celia Kenney facilitate storytelling and support artists across media. Plate Spinner commissions, develops, nurtures, and produces theatre, film, TV, audio, and digital projects that ask artists and audiences to question the status quo, and to contribute to a more equitable world. Recent: What the Constitution Means to Me (Broadway, national tour, film), Thoughts of a Colored Man (Broadway), Dana H./Is This a Room (Broadway), Untitled Silverton (film), and numerous projects in development.

Signature Theatre is an artistic home for storytellers. By producing several plays from each Resident Writer, Signature offers a deep dive into their bodies of work. Founded by James Houghton, Signature is led by Artistic Director Paige Evans and Interim Executive Director Timothy J. McClimon. Signature conducts its unique residency programming at the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center. Since its founding, Signature has received over 100 awards and in 2014 became the first New York theatre to receive the Regional Tony Award.

* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

World Premiere commissioned, developed, and produced by Signature Theatre, New York City, Paige Evans, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Executive Director. Dave Malloy is a Signature Theatre resident playwright.

Affiliations

The director is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union. The Scenic, Costume, Lighting, and Sound Designers in LORT Theatres are represented by United Scenic Artists Local USA-829, IATSE.

League of Resident Theatres, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors' Equity Association, United Scenic Artists Local USA-829 IATSE

Discover Octet

A conversation with Annie Tippe and Dave Malloy

By Abigail Holland

Octet lands at Berkeley Rep after an acclaimed 2019 run in New York. Following a week of music rehearsals, the exuberant and dulcet-toned company descended on Berkeley Rep’s campus, led with laughter, wit, and generosity of spirit by director Annie Tippe and writer/composer Dave Malloy. After a day of staging, Tippe and Malloy spoke with Artistic Fellow and Assistant Director Abigail Holland about this piece, their process, and their online lives.

Octet premiered in 2019. A lot has happened since that first production. What feels different about returning to this piece since the pandemic began?

 

Dave Malloy: I’ve been surprised. As catastrophic and life-changing these last two years were, the piece is still just totally resonant. It hits in slightly different ways, but still feels relevant. I’ve made a couple tiny tweaks to some lines to acknowledge that the last two years have been a little different, but nothing major. I do think there’s a whole different show that you could write about online life during the pandemic, but I think that’s just kind of outside of the scope of this show.

 

How do you think Octet will resonate in the Bay Area?

 

Annie Tippe: I think this is the perfect place to produce Octet because we are staunchly planted in the tech community here – it’s the birthplace of this industry that has given way to some amazing changes in our lives, but also has led us into some difficult and questionable relationships with technology. I hope that the audience here will feel the potency of this show, but also feel really welcomed by it.

 

What do you enjoy about working together?

 

DM: Well, we laugh a lot.

 

AT: We love to laugh.

 

DM: I think we just like to just tell jokes a lot.

 

AT: And we love to sing.

 

DM: And sometimes we’ll sing a dumb little jingle, but then it becomes a real thing.

 

Tarot is a key element of this piece. Do you have experience with tarot?

 

DM: I am a total tarot devotee and dilettante. I love it, and I know maybe one percent of everything there is to know about it – not even one percent. But I find the images really, really beautiful – especially the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I have a lot of decks at home; I collect them. I just think it’s a beautiful way of looking at the world. I don’t use the cards in a predictive way, but if I want a new way to think about a situation, I’ll pull a card or do a spread.

 

With Octet, I was frustrated in a moment of writer’s block, because it’s about the internet; there was just way too much information and I didn’t know how to edit and whittle the piece down. So, I actually grabbed a tarot deck off of my shelf to help me. And it really worked. I gave each scene a tarot card connected to what it meant emotionally. That helped me understand how some scenes could be added together. It structurally really helped with the show.

 

Is that how tarot became part of the show – when you did that spread?

 

DM: A hundred percent. A character in the show, Velma, who is obsessed with tarot, originally was obsessed with comic books – her lines about tarot and tarot discourse were originally about Comicsgate (a campaign that made headlines at New York Comic Con in 2017, which involved a lot of misogyny against female comic book writers).

 

Octet takes place in a church basement. How did you land on this setting?

 

DM: I think once I realized that the show was about addiction, AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings became a central guiding principle for how the show would be structured and what it would look like. That’s also how it became a chamber choir musical: it wanted to be about these humans coming together and being really vulnerable with each other, so there couldn’t be a band. The meeting participants had to be the people supporting each other; there couldn’t be external people supporting them, too. Once we realized this is just another kind of 12-step program, it seemed like a church basement made sense, since that’s where those meetings often happen.

 

AT: The show is rooted in spirituality and the pursuit of spirituality, so I like the idea that this space maybe once belonged to a certain denomination – but when you walk into the space, there is the familiarity of a church, yes, but there are also so many layers of paint – so many changes that have happened to the space that it really feels like a nondenominational place with a lot of history and a lot of old equipment that no one has dealt with in a long time. The history lives on the shelves and in the walls and in the floor of the space.

 

It can be difficult to write about technology and online life, as what’s relevant and interesting morphs so rapidly. Can you talk about how you made the show specific without dating it?

 

DM: I tried not to make it too specific; the one actual meme referred to in the show has been around for over 10 years, so I thought, I can trust that because it’s been around for so long, but there’s no way I would touch something that was a current trend on Twitter or Facebook or TikTok right now because it changes, as you said, too rapidly. You can use music and poetry to be a little more vague about things without having to name Facebook or Twitter.

 

AT: Ultimately, I don’t think the show is about calling out specific platforms so much as it is identifying the different ways in which we can find ourselves in an unhealthy relationship with these types of technologies. The show goes beyond Twitter and beyond Facebook and beyond whatever platform is created 10 years from now to ask: what does it feel like to need something so badly that the rest of your life suffers because of your relationship to it? You could substitute any platform or any type of device, and I would hope that an audience would find it relevant.

 

Does Octet use the internet and technology as a vehicle to tell a story about addiction?

 

DM: Ultimately it isn’t really a show about technology; it is a show about addiction and spirituality and about these characters who are very lost and looking for something. So, I think if any of these people didn’t have a phone or a laptop, they would probably be experiencing their spiritual crises in some other medium.

 

AT: I think it’s ultimately a show about how we want to connect with each other in this world. So, in that sense, technology is not necessarily treated as good or bad. It’s the vessel through which we find ourselves communicating, particularly during a pandemic. Octet asks the question of the characters and of us: how do we want to be present with each other?

 

Annie, you’ve expressed how important it is to you that the audience feel welcomed into the piece and like they’re part of the meeting. Why is that?

 

AT: I hope it will be a really special experience for people, because I imagine a large bulk of the audience will not have seen much theatre for the last two years. We haven’t had the opportunity to come into a theatre and feel present with other human beings in a very long time; we’ve really been relegated to our screens. My hope is that folks can come and see the show and let the meeting and the music hit them as it will, but also just feel the joy and the pleasure of being in an audience.

 

One of the many things that Octet is about is online presence. What does your online presence look like?

 

AT: Well, I like Wordle. There’s a new thing that I really like called framed.wtf. Every day, they show you pictures from a movie and they give you five chances to guess what movie it is. I find myself swinging on the pendulum with Instagram; I’m either on it and quite present or I have to deactivate the account and delete it from my phone. I can’t say I’ve found a healthy relationship there. And I follow two of our cast members on Twitter.

 

DM: I deleted everything except for a private Instagram account because I like looking at my friends’ pictures of their babies. That’s nice – and friends having openings; it’s nice to look at their pictures and ‘like’ them. I post pretty rarely, but sometimes I’ll post a picture saying, “this is what I’m doing.” And then my friends ‘like’ it. I deleted Twitter. I play the Wordle.

 

I also do The New York Times crossword. I’ve been going through the archives; I’m back to like 2007, I think. I started at the present day. I only do the Saturdays and sometimes the Thursdays and Sundays.

 

AT: The Mondays I do when I need a confidence boost.

 

DM: I do some gaming. That was a really nice pandemic activity. There are a couple of friends I stayed in touch with through video games. We would get on Discord and play World of Warcraft together. We would go out together and fight a bunch of ogres while we were just talking about our lives. That was fun. I am an avid Spotify user.

 

AT: Deeply avid Spotify user.

 

Do you use Spotify as social media?

 

DM: Well, we follow each other so sometimes I look and see, “Oh, Annie’s listening to this.”

 

AT: I can see what Dave is listening to. I either feel cheerful or I think, “How’s he doing?”

 

DM: That’s actually the one piece of my social media that I have left public.

 

AT: My Instagram is private. Everything else is public. I find it weird that people would want to look at pictures of my mom.

 

DM: We’re friends on Instagram.

 

AT: Of course. You’ve taken some of my favorite pictures on all our travels.

 

Some of the songs are based on online chat boards. Can you talk about your experience sifting through these sites?

 

DM: One song is based on incel boards – men’s rights, men going their own way. That was a dark couple days of research for sure. What I was drawn to with that was, you have these people spitting out this vile, misogynistic, awful stuff, but then there’d be a post and you could see someone just crying out for help so badly. Someone that was so lost and lonely and hurt, trying to reach out for a friend. I found it actually quite moving, those particular boards and forums, because of that.

 

There is also a fair amount of Q-Anon and conspiracy theory stuff in Octet. That stuff I do find fascinating; I don’t believe in it, but I find it fascinating. I do believe that some conspiracies might be possible; who knows what’s actually going on? We don’t know. So that’s stuff that I find more pleasurable to dig into.

 

In the song Monster, there’s a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s rule that one needs 10,000 hours to master a skill. Dave, you annotated the song lyrics on Genius, and asked, “If I spend three to five hours a day scrolling mindlessly through my phone/other screens, after 10 years, what have I mastered?” Whether or not you have reached your 10,000 hours online – no need to calculate – what do you think you have become skilled at with your time spent online?

 

DM: Nothing good.

 

AT: Skim reading, hot takes.

 

DM: Having your own opinions calcified into unmoving thoughts.

 

AT: Memorizing what other people’s lives look like, even though you have no relationship to them.

 

DM: I’ve gotten good at killing ogres. In World of Warcraft.

 

AT: And Wordle.

 

DM: I was going to say that I think from doing crosswords my vocabulary has improved, but I don’t actually think that’s true. It’s just my crossword vocabulary.

 

What parts of online life do you two personally enjoy?

 

DM: Enjoy?

Is there any greater equalizer than a church basement? It doesn’t matter whether your life appears to be the lap of luxury or a cautionary tale; enter a church basement, and you are simply a person — no more, no less. These humble, unassuming rooms often feel like time capsules connecting the past and the present. The walls quietly hum with years of accumulated good intentions. The furniture, functional at best, has usually seen better days, and the latest technology is nowhere to be found. Yet somehow, these unremarkable spaces possess a magical ability to make the ordinary feel sacred.

 

For this show, when you arrive in the lobby, you have the opportunity to enter the theatre through a special door. I highly recommend doing this. (If this makes you anxious, don’t worry — nothing will be asked of you!) It will give you a different experience of the world you are walking into, and a moment to appreciate just how much detail went into the crafting of the environment. The set spills out into the lobby in a very intentional way, helping to blur the boundary a little bit between performer and audience member. This kind of porousness appears frequently in Dave Malloy’s work. (For more about this, see this piece in the program.)

 

Octet operates on multiple levels at any given time, and there’s always something more to discover. My favorite example of this is a tiny moment — an extremely short lighting cue that happens during a line about self-checkout at the grocery store. It’s both subtle and not all at once — it’s so quick that you might ask yourself whether it was intentional or a mistake. And given the lyrical content at that particular moment, it would be a very fortuitous mistake indeed. Which is of course not out of the question…. And I adore that this very wee moment unlocks a whole line of thinking for me about the artists’ intentions, the vocabulary of the show, and the presence of serendipity.

 

Right from the first few notes of Octet, you can tell it’s a Dave Malloy musical. The show starts with a note sung in unison that splinters into glorious harmony, followed by a note progression that to my ear, is quintessential Dave. His scores are musically complex and deceptively difficult (though these eight performers make everything seem effortless), as the intricate rhythms require exquisite timing. And on top of all that, there are a lot of words. Dave’s language marries music and vocabulary in ways that eschew the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure commonly heard in showtunes. In Dave’s work, when something repeats it’s usually giving us some new information or a slightly different texture — rarely does it repeat just for the sake of it. He has a natural sense of how to reveal information and how to propel narrative, as well as how to build a structure and create variation within that structure. He saturates his work with content — both lyrically and musically, filling his storytelling to the brim with ideas.

 

Dave writes a lot about darkness and monsters, but in a fascinatingly gleeful way. His work finds playfulness in the deep, scary, unexplored corners of our minds. He gently coaxes us to peek at the things we keep hidden, inviting us to observe them with curiosity rather than holding them at bay. In Octet, he focuses on something many of us share — a deeply private place where we are alone with the internet. That relationship looks different for everyone — whether it’s a secret online shopping obsession, the compulsive googling of medical information, or something more sinister; we can all agree that the internet rabbit hole is terrifyingly easy to tumble down.

 

Lots has been studied recently about the impact of the internet on our mental health and how the consistency and speed of information flow can reshape our brains in ways that may have dire consequences. We are losing our ability to focus in any kind of sustained way. Which, ironically, is precisely what this piece is asking us to do. Octet invites us to listen deeply and closely, a type of listening that has become an endangered species.

 

Theatre tries not only to preserve this rare listening space, but also to remind us of its rewards, one of which is the chance to engage with complicated ideas. Great art holds contradiction the same way our human existence does — life can’t exist without death, light without dark, etc. This show, while examining how our phones are isolating us, also shows us how they serve to bring us together. At the same time that technology is making us lonelier, it also might connect us to a soul mate or, say…eight kindred spirits.

 

As the show begins, these eight characters invite us into a world that looks very familiar to us. And as it goes on, things get a little strange, reminding us that no matter how much we learn, or how fast technology develops, the universe is infinite. There will always be an intangible expanse just out of reach of our understanding. And while this may be scary, it’s also one of the great gifts of this life — there’s always something else out there. Maybe it’s a monster but maybe it’s a link to the beyond. I hope after seeing Octet you leave feeling a little better about living a messy, complicated, not-fully-knowable life. It’s only human, after all.

 

Madeleine Oldham

By Madeleine Oldham

 

It’s common for musicals to have separate people responsible for writing dialogue, lyrics, and music. It’s extremely rare for a single individual to create all three, which is just one of the many things that makes Dave Malloy special. Well-known for his friendly demeanor and approachable intellect, Dave has added his singular brand of theatre-making to our contemporary canon, and we are all the richer for it.

 

Dave’s path to becoming a theatre artist took a bit of a sideways course. A music major in college, he graduated just a few credits shy of double-majoring in literature. Theatre wasn’t on his radar until after he’d established himself as a working musician in the Bay Area. Some friends asked him to write music for their theatre piece, and he began designing sound for other local productions. His composition skills propelled him quickly into a reputation as a top-notch theatre artist, and things only grew from there.

 

Perhaps because his formal training came from another discipline, Dave approaches the theatre with fresh eyes and an infectious sense of wonder. His playful style respects the stage while at the same time pushing its boundaries and challenging it to evolve. The way he thinks about what a musical can do reveals a strong desire to both entertain and make a meaningful contribution to our cultural conversation.

 

For example, we live in a time in which people like to feel a part of things – not everyone wants a fourth wall separating them from the performers when they come to the theatre. Though some people do recoil at the phrase “audience participation,” they might nonetheless be delighted by a light touch of involvement. Dave consistently invents creative ways to invite the audience into the world of the show. He isn’t interested in embarrassing anyone or generating a laugh at someone else’s expense, which sometimes constitutes the dreaded audience participation. Instead, Dave tries to shape a communal experience where everyone feels welcome and included in what’s going on.

 

He employs a variety of methods to achieve this. For example, the prologue to Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is one of the smartest introductions to a show you’ll ever encounter. Dave puts himself in the position of an audience member and imagines what he would likely feel as the curtain goes up. Knowing that it’s too much information for anyone to take in at one time, he leans into this instead of away from it. He astutely gives people permission to be lost, and thus, instantly puts them at ease about it. In the first four minutes of the show, he distills the sprawl of his cast (drawn from characters in War and Peace) into a bogglingly efficient and delightful overview by adapting a common exercise for remembering people’s names. This invitation lays a foundation for the rest of the show by encouraging the audience to relax into the story instead of worrying about what they might be missing.

 

Other strategies involve food and drink, or very simple ways to join in the music-making. We won’t give it away here, but the ending to his four-person piece Ghost Quartet is truly magical. Or it can be, when it succeeds, which it doesn’t always from night to night. Its success depends on a number of variables, which is all part of the design. Dave’s writing celebrates the fact that theatre lives and breathes, as does the audience, and no two performances will look precisely alike. In this way, while still being highly crafted and structured, his work incorporates a little bit of the freewheeling spontaneity you might find at a jazz concert or a rock show.

 

Dave’s music transcends genre in deeply satisfying ways. It reflects an omnivorous curiosity that weaves wide-ranging subject matter with expansive musical influences. His melodies are catchy without being predictable, and he also doesn’t shy away from making robust use of minor keys. Within a single song he might start with a jaunty tune over a single drum, slipping in some notes from an Arabic scale before we’ve even noticed that we’re back where we started, sweep us up in some lyrical gymnastics, throw in a nod to ’50s doo-wop, and probably many other things we may or may not register. And the next song might feature operatic electro-pop or a beautiful piano ballad that tracks the passage of time. He plays by his own stylistic rules, always finding a way to pull seemingly disparate elements together into a cohesive whole.

 

Even something as banal as the résumé on his website reflects Dave’s gleefully creative use of proscribed forms, seeding irreverence in unexpected places. (We highly recommend checking it out and scrolling down to the bottom.) Dave’s drive to explore far-flung corners of the musical world, as well as his relentless work ethic, flair for all things literary, giant heart, and (let us not forget) the glimmer of mischief in his eye, make for a truly exceptional artist. We’re thrilled to share his Octet with you, and we can’t wait to see what he is going to do next.

By Des’ree Brown

 

“Whoa did tarot cards tell you to come here?” – Henry, Octet

 

Tarot readings have grown immensely popular online, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic began. Jake Trevino (@jxtarot), a college teacher and speech coach who lost his job during the pandemic, began doing online tarot readings on TikTok and found swift success in his new profession, with a following of over 114,000. Trevino is just one of thousands of online tarot readers, and TikTok is one of the largest platforms for readings. Their popularity is so high amongst TikTok users that #tarotreading has 6.4 billion views and #tarot has 21.3 billion. The creators and followers of these readings believe the TikTok algorithm is in sync with the universe. “Nothing you see is by chance,” Trevino asserts in an October 2020 Wired interview. “Even though a message may not resonate entirely, there’s something in that message that you were meant to see.” This innate belief that tarot readings are meant for the right people at the right time have kept Trevino and other tarot readers loyal to their ever-growing online community. During a time of so much uncertainty and fear, maybe something as simple as a card can give us the sense of hope and direction we are searching for.

 

While you may not have experienced tarot in person, odds are you’ve walked past storefronts boasting $1 readings or come across a live-streaming tarot reading. But what is this popular future-predicting phenomenon?

 

While the precise origin of tarot is unknown, tarot cards were most likely invented in Italy in the 1430s. They were used to play a bridge-like game at that point, and not ascribed any predictive or mystical power. In the 18th century, people began using tarot decks for cartomancy (that is, fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards). People have assigned many different interpretations and shades of meaning to the cards; these continue to evolve over time. While tarot cards are often associated with the occult, or supernatural forces, not all practitioners believe the cards possess predictive powers – some enthusiasts use them as a tool for inspiration or reflection.

 

Modern tarot decks typically come in a 78-card pack and are divided into two sections: the 22-card major arcana, comprised of trump (trick) cards, and the 56-card minor arcana. The major arcana cards act as the questioner’s destinations, telling them what they can expect in their future. On the other hand, the minor arcana cards act as the questioner’s roadmap, explaining how the universe is aiding them to reach their potential.

 

Typically, a reading starts with the questioner shuffling the deck. The reader then draws and lays out a few of the cards in a special pattern, or “spread.” The meaning of any card is modified according to its position in the spread, whether it is upside down, and its relationship to the adjacent cards. For example, a card’s meaning will be different when it is drawn upside down than when it is drawn upright. This encourages the person receiving the reading to pay close attention to all cards they receive. Below are generalized meanings behind the tarot cards Dave Malloy assigned to the characters and stories of Octet. (For more on how tarot found its way into the piece, see our interview with Dave and Annie Tippe.)

 

The Moon: Hidden enemies, danger, calumny, darkness, terror, deception, occult forces, error.
Reversed: Instability, inconstancy, silence, lesser degrees of deception and error.

 

The Hierophant: Marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse.
Reversed: Society, good understanding, concord, overkindness, weakness.

 

The Hermit: Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption.
Reversed: Concealment, disguise, policy, fear, unreasoned caution.

 

The High Priestess: Secrets, mystery, the future as yet unrevealed; the woman who interests the Querent, if male; the Querent herself, if female; silence, tenacity; mystery, wisdom, science.
Reversed: Passion, moral or physical ardour, conceit, surface knowledge.

 

Wheel of Fortune: Destiny, fortune, success, elevation, luck, felicity.
Reversed: Increase, abundance, superfluity.

 

The Devil: Ravage, violence, vehemence, extraordinary efforts, force, fatality; that which is predestined but is not for this reason evil.
Reversed: Evil fatality, weakness, pettiness, blindness.

 

The Lovers: Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome.
Reversed: Failure, foolish designs. Another account speaks of marriage frustrated and contrarieties of all kinds.

 

Death: End, mortality, destruction, corruption also, for a man, the loss of a benefactor for a woman, many contrarieties; for a maid, failure of marriage projects.
Reversed: Inertia, sleep, lethargy, petrifaction, somnambulism; hope destroyed.

 

The Magician: Skill, diplomacy, address, subtlety; sickness, pain, loss, disaster, snares of enemies; self-confidence, will; the Querent, if male.
Reversed: Physician, Magus, mental disease, disgrace, disquiet.

 

The Hanged Man: Wisdom, circumspection, discernment, trials, sacrifice, intuition, divination, prophecy.
Reversed: Selfishness, the crowd, body politic.

 

The Tower: Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe.
Reversed: According to one account, the same in a lesser degree also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.

 

The Fool: Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment.
Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.

 

The World: Assured success, recompense, voyage, route, emigration, flight, change of place.
Reversed: Inertia, fixity, stagnation, permanence.

By Dave Malloy

 

“Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse.” ― Sophocles, Antigone

 

Inspiration for Octet came from several books, plays, films, pieces of music, and games about technology, mental health, spirituality, and the intersections of the three. Obviously it’s a pretty enormous topic, so this list is by no means exhaustive! But some of the most influential works included:

 

Text: Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio; John Cage, Silence; Nicholas Carr, The Shallows; Chuang-Tzu; Ernest Cline, Ready Player One; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion; Philip K. Dick, Valis; James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood; Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind; Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near; C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters; Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies; Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind; Catherine Price, How to Break Up with Your Phone; Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed; Rumi, “A Great Wagon;” George Saunders, Tenth of December; Wallace Shawn, Essays; Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash; Alan Watts, The Book; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Pete Walker, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

 

Theatre: Caryl Churchill, Love and Information; Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood Jr. & Nicholas Dante, A Chorus Line; Stephen Sondheim & George Furth, Company

 

Tarot: The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot; Kim Krans, The Wild Unknown Tarot

 

Film: Altered States; Black Mirror: S01E03 “The Entire History of You,” S03E01 “Nosedive,” S03E06 “Hated in the Nation”; Blade Runner; The Matrix; My Dinner with Andre; 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

Podcasts: Reply All; Dear Sugars

 

Games: Candy Crush; Cookie Clicker; Everything; Inside; Journey; Universal Paperclips; The Witness; World of Warcraft

 

Music: Robert Ashley, Perfect Lives; Luciano Berio, Sinfonia; Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach; Meredith Monk, Dolmen Music; Nico Muhly, Two Boys, Mothertongue; Sacred Harp; Caroline Shaw, Partita for 8 Voices; Toby Twining, Chrysalid Requiem

 

Lyrical annotations can be found at genius.com/albums/dave-malloy/octet

Enjoy the original cast recording of Octet.

 

Check out the YouTube and Spotify playlists Dave Malloy created for Octet, “made up of inspirations and influences, resonances and ripoffs.”

 

Octet and Internet Addiction is an episode of the podcast Why We Theatre. It features a conversation with director Annie Tippe; Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, who offers facts about technology’s effects on our brains and socialization; Dr. Hilarie Cash, who treats internet addiction; and software engineer Daphne Larose.

You’ll notice when you come see Octet that our lobby walls are teeming with flyers of every stripe! Need a rabbit-sitter, tenor for your choir, or creek cleanup volunteers? Do you offer social services or healing work, salsa classes or pickleball lessons? Bring a flyer and tape it to our wall, or drop one off at our box office Tue–Sun, noon–7pm (say “I have a flyer for the lobby!”).

Octet sponsors

Octet is made possible thanks to the generous support of

Season Sponsors

Bruce Golden & Michelle Mercer
Frances Hellman & Warren Breslau
Wayne Jordan & Quinn Delaney
Gisele & Kenneth F. Miller
Jack & Betty Schafer
The Strauch Kulhanjian Family

BART Peet's Coffee

In-kind sponsor

Residence Inn by Marriott Berkeley

Lead sponsors

Kelli & Steffan Tomlinson

The Bernard Osher Foundation

Associate sponsors

Lynne Carmichael
William Espey & Margaret Hart Edwards
Scott & Sherry Haber
Wendy Williams

Warren and Frances are avid watchers of live theatre, which includes Berkeley Rep and an annual pilgrimage (when COVID allows) to London's West End. Having loved Berkeley Rep for years, they are thrilled to sign on as 2021/22 season sponsors. They are very proud of the cutting edge, exceptional theatre that Berkeley Rep continuously produces. Frances' day job is as Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley and Warren is a Machinist and Welder at 5th Street Machine Arts.

Betty and Jack are proud to support Berkeley Rep. Jack is a sustaining advisor of the Theatre, having served on the board for many years, and is now on the board of San Francisco Opera. He is an emeritus board chair of the San Francisco Art Institute and the Oxbow School. In San Francisco, Betty is involved with Wise Aging, a program for adults addressing the challenges of growing older. She serves on several non-profit boards. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Roger Strauch is chair of The Roda Group. He has served on Berkeley Rep’s Board of Trustees for over twenty years, often as an executive member. Roger is an engineer, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist. He has helped build technology companies that have had public stock offerings or have been sold to global industry leaders. Currently, Roger focuses on the development of several enterprises whose products and services will mitigate the negative impact of industry on global climate change and human health. Roger serves on the boards of the Chart Industries (NYSE:GTLS); Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI); Northside Center in Harlem, NYC, a mental health service agency; and UC Berkeley's College of Engineering. He is the leader of the Mosse Art Restitution Project, a major international effort to restitute stolen art from his great step family during the Third Reich. Roger and his wife, Dr. Julie Kulhanjian, a retired pediatric infectious disease physician, have three adult children. Roger and Julie divide their time between Piedmont, CA and Martha’s Vineyard.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is the backbone of the Bay Area transit network serving five counties throughout the region. BART’s all-electric trains make it one of the greenest and most energy-efficient transit systems in the world. We encourage our riders to visit bart.gov/welcomeback as the region continues to reopen as we safely welcome you back. To learn more about great destinations and events that are easy to get to on BART (like Berkeley Rep!), visit bart.gov/bartable. At BARTable, you can find discounts, enter sweepstakes offering fantastic prizes, and find unique and exciting things to do just a BART ride away. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for BARTable This Week, a free, weekly email filled with the latest and greatest BARTable fun!

Peet’s Coffee is proud to be the exclusive coffee of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the namesake of Berkeley Rep’s state-of-the-art Peet’s Theatre. In 1966, Alfred Peet opened his first store on Vine and Walnut in Berkeley and Peet’s has been committed to the community ever since. Supporting Berkeley Rep’s high artistic standards and diverse programming is an extension of this mission. As the pioneer of the craft coffee movement in America, Peet’s is dedicated to smallbatch roasting, superior quality beans, freshness, and a darker roasting style that produces a rich, flavorful cup. Peet’s is locally roasted in the first LEED® Gold certified roaster in the nation.

Kelli is a trustee at The Girls’ Middle School and Trinity College, Hartford, CT and director and co-president of the Tomlinson Family Foundation. She is a member of the boards of The Art of Yoga Project and Challenge Success. Steffan is the CFO of Confluent.

Berkeley Rep thanks its community of supporters who play a vital role in furthering our mission to create ambitious theatre that entertains and challenges its audiences, provides civic engagement, and inspires people to experience the world in new and surprising ways.

Staff and board

Artistic Director
Johanna Pfaelzer

 

Managing Director
Susie Medak

 

Artistic

 

Director, The Ground Floor / Resident Dramaturg
Madeleine Oldham

 

Artistic Associate
Katie Craddock

 

Artists Under Commission
Todd Almond · Christina Anderson · Rafael Casal · Daveed Diggs · Dipika Guha · Richard Montoya · Nico Muhly · Lisa Peterson · Sarah Ruhl · Tori Sampson · Jack Thorne · Joe Waechter

 

Production and Company Management

 

Director of Production
Audrey Hoo

 

Associate Production Manager
Zoey Russo

 

Company Manager
Peter Orkiszewski

 

Stage Operations

 

Stage Supervisor
Julia Englehorn

 

Staff Stage Crew
James McGregor

 

Properties

 

Properties Supervisor
Jillian A. Green

 

Associate Properties Supervisor
Amelia Burke-Holt

 

Scene Shop

 

Co-Technical Directors
Jim Smith · Matt Rohner

 

Head Carpenter
Read Tuddenham

 

Scene Shop Supervisor
Patrick Keene

 

Scenic Carpenter
Lisa Fong

 

Scenic Art

 

Charge Scenic Artist
Lisa Lázár

 

Scenic Artist
Lassen Hines

 

Costumes

 

Costume Director
Maggi Yule

 

Draper
Star Rabinowitz

 

Wardrobe Supervisor
Barbara Blair

 

Resident Design Associate
Kiara Montgomery

 

Electrics

 

Master Electrician
Frederick C. Geffken

 

Associate Master Electrician
Sarina Renteria

 

Production Electrician
Kenneth Coté

 

Production Electrician
Desiree Alcocer

 

Sound and Video

 

Sound and Video Supervisor
Lane Elms

 

Associate Sound and Video Supervisor
Chase Nichter

 

Sound Engineers
Angela Don · Michael Kelly

 

Administration

 

Interim General Manager
Sara Danielsen

 

Finance Director
Jared Hammond

 

Associate Managing Director
Sunshine Deffner

 

Associate General Manager
Amanda Williams O’Steen

 

Executive Assistant
Kate Horton

 

Associate Finance Director
Katie Riemann

 

Bookkeeper and Payroll Administrator
Jennifer Light

 

CRM Project Manager
Destiny Askin

 

Web and Database Specialist
Christina Cone

 

Director of Human Resources and Diversity
Modesta Tamayo

 

Development

 

Director of Development
Lynn Eve Komaromi

 

Associate Director of Development
Daria Hepps

 

Director of Individual Giving
Laura Fichtenberg

 

Institutional Grants Manager
Kelsey Scott

 

Special Events Manager
Elaina Guyett

 

Development Coordinator
Nicky Martinez

 

Marketing and Communications

 

Director of Marketing and Communications
Steve Tate

 

Associate Director of Marketing
Seth Macari

 

Director of Public Relations
Tim Etheridge

 

Communications and Digital Content Director
Karen McKevitt

 

Senior Videographer and Producer
Marianna Ellina

 

Video and Multimedia Content Creator
Calvin Ngu

 

Marketing Associate
Katherine Gunn

 

Operations

 

Facilities Director
Mark Morrisette

 

Facilities Manager
Adam Johnson

 

Building Engineers
Kevin Pan · Thomas Tran

 

Building Technician
Jesus Rodriguez

 

Facilities Assistants
Lemont Adams · Theresa Drumgoole · Sophie Li · Guy Nado

 

Patron Services

 

Director of Patron Experience
Brian Davis

 

Front of House Director
Kelly Kelley

 

Front of House Manager
Phoenyx Butts

 

Patron Experience Representatives
Lindsay Abbott · Jessica Bates · Alicia Battle · Megan Bedig · Matthew Canter · Jerry Chirip · Maggie Collette · Fillomena Franchina · Nina Gorham · Kimberly Haynie · Monica Herbert · Saguaro Hurtado · Claire Michael · Cassidy Milano · Rafael Moreno · Leigh Nelson · Tuesday Ray · Anna Riggin · Stephen Salmons · James Sant’Andrea · Alana Scott · Debra Selman · Lena Sibony

 

Subscription Manager
Laurie Barnes

 

Box Office Manager
Julie Gotsch

 

Box Office Agents
Alecia Baxter · Oliver Kampman · Mikee Loria · Dom Refuerzo · Gianna Francesca Vescio

 

Berkeley Rep School of Theatre

 

Director of the School of Theatre
Anthony Jackson

 

Associate Director
Dylan Russell

 

Director of Classes
MaryBeth Cavanaugh

 

Curriculum and Educational Programs Manager
Si Mon’ Emmett

 

Classes and Communications Administrator
Ashley Lim

 

Programs Administrator
Tate Lancaster

 

2021–22 Berkeley Rep Fellowships

 

Bret C. Harte Artistic Fellow
Des’ree Brown

 

Company Management Fellow
Naomi Schiller

 

Costumes Fellow
Rachel Mandelstam

 

Development Fellow
Maya Simon

 

Education Fellow
Elijah Punzal

 

Harry Weininger Sound Fellow
Akari Izumi

 

Lighting Fellow
Kiahana Toomer

 

Peter F. Sloss Artistic Fellow
Abigail Holland

 

Production Management Fellow
Emily Betts

 

Properties Fellow
Robin Maegawa-Goeser

 

Scenic Art Fellow
Jimmy Nguyen

 

Scenic Construction Fellow
Margret Wentworth

 

Stage Management Fellow
Olivia McQuerry

President
Emily Shanks

 

Vice Presidents
Jill Fugaro
Bruce Golden
Stewart Owen
Sudha Pennathur

 

Treasurer
Henning Mathew

 

Secretary
Leonard X Rosenberg

 

Chair, Governance Committee
Anne Nemer Dhanda

 

Chair, Audit Committee
Kerry L. Francis

 

Board Members
Edward D. Baker
Erica Brown
Susan Chamberlin
David Cox
Lauren Edgerton
Sandra Eggers
William T. Espey
Chuck Fanning
Steven Goldin
Scott Haber
Jonathan C. Logan
Sandra R. McCandless
Susie Medak
Juan Oldham
Johanna Pfaelzer
Chris Rupp
Sherry Smith
Roger A. Strauch
Gail Wagner
Brian Watt
Steven C. Wolan
Felicia Woytak

 

Past Presidents
Helen C. Barber
A. George Battle
Carole B. Berg
Robert W. Burt
Shih-Tso Chen
Narsai M. David
Thalia Dorwick, PhD
Nicholas M. Graves
Richard F. Hoskins
Jean Knox
Robert M. Oliver
Stewart Owen
Marjorie Randolph
Harlan M. Richter
Richard A. Rubin
Edwin C. Shiver
Roger A. Strauch
Gail Wagner
Martin Zankel

 

Sustaining Advisors
Rena Bransten
Diana Cohen
Robin Edwards
William Falik
David Fleishhacker
Paul T. Friedman
Karen Galatz
David Hoffman
Richard F. Hoskins
Helen Meyer
Dugan Moore
Peter Pervere
Marjorie Randolph
Patricia Sakai
Jack Schafer
William Schaff
Richard M. Shapiro
Michael Steinberg
Jean Z. Strunsky
Michael S. Strunsky
Martin Zankel

 

Founding Director
Michael W. Leibert
Producing Director, 1968–83

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