Skip to main content

The Waves in Quarantine

A Theatrical Experiment in 6 Movements

Inspired by a stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves
Music and lyrics by DAVID BUCKNAM
Additional music and lyrics by ADAM GWON
Available on demand Apr 29–Jun 30, 2021

Running time: approximately 90 minutes

In kitchens and on couches, at beaches and on rooftops, The Waves in Quarantine invites an audience into the creative process. As Virginia Woolf ingeniously excavated the inner lives of six friends in her groundbreaking novel, Lisa Peterson and her collaborators (including four-time Tony Award nominee and star of Law & Order: SVU, Raúl Esparza) create a film in six movements that meditates on themes from the musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece The Waves.

The Waves in Quarantine builds upon Woolf’s gorgeous prose to reveal an intimate look at where art meets isolation, creating something entirely new in the process. This theatrical experience for the screen gifts us with many of the things we’ve been missing in the past year: music in unexpected places, the intimacy of strangers, metaphor in the ordinary. Through a combination of dazzling choral music, text from the novel itself, exquisite visual imagery, and access behind the scenes as these artists imagine, question, explore, and experiment, The Waves in Quarantine juxtaposes the majestic with the everyday to forge a truly unique work of interdisciplinary art, made of and for this moment.

Please note: The Waves in Quarantine includes open captions.

Movement 1: 16:21 minutes
Memory: Raúl Esparza introduces the piece, sharing how Virginia Woolf’s novel became a musical adaptation became a quarantine film project.

Movement 2: 10:23 minutes
Those We Love: The actors begin to piece together the story of six characters, who they are and their intertwined lives, starting with their first childhood memories.

Movement 3: 19:52 minutes
The Female Gaze: Rhoda (Alice Ripley), Susan (Nikki Renée Daniels), and Jinny (Carmen Cusack) discuss womanhood, motherhood, the feminism of Virginia Woolf, and what it means for them to find their place as women in the world.

Movement 4: 16:57 minutes
Absence: Bernard (Raúl Esparza) and Neville (Darius de Haas), plus co-composer Adam Gwon, discuss the seventh, missing piece of the puzzle.

Movement 5: 10:36 minutes
The Sun Cycle: A day in the life of Louis (Manu Narayan), accompanied by David Bucknam’s rich, dense score.

Movement 6: 19:48 minutes
Reunion: At last, the actors gather virtually for a chance to discuss how their art and their lives have changed this year.

Season sponsors

BART Peet's Coffee

Lead sponsor

The Bernard Osher Foundation

Cast and creative team

Carmen’s recent work was cut short last year when she was to embark upon the role of Clare Booth Luce in James Lapine’s Flying Over Sunset at the Lincoln Center Theater. Now due to open fall 2021. She was last seen on Broadway in Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star (Cort Theater), where she received a Theater World Award and the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and Grammy nominations for playing Alice Murphy. Her regional and off-Broadway credits include Raphael in Lempicka at (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Sally Adams in Call Me Madame (City Center Encores!), Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Ms. Gardner in Carrie (MCC), and Mother in Ragtime (Milwaukee Rep). She was Nellie Forbush in LCT’s national tour of South Pacific and Elpheba in Wicked (first national tour and Melbourne, Australia). Her West End credits include Christine in Phantom of the Opera, Fantine in Les Misérables, Rose in The Secret Garden (Royal Shakespeare Company), and Eva Cassidy in Over the Rainbow. Film and TV credits: A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodSorry for Your Loss (Facebook series).

Nikki recently played Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton at the CIBC Theater in Chicago. Broadway: Company (Jenny); The Book of Mormon (Nabulungi); The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Clara); Les Misérables (Fantine); Anything GoesPromises, PromisesAidaNineLittle Shop of HorrorsLestat; and The Look of Love. Other New York credits include Martha Jefferson in 1776 at City Center Encores, Rose Lennox in The Secret Garden at David Geffen Hall, and Tracy in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. On television, Nikki has appeared on Chappelle’s ShowMadam Secretary, and The Sound of Music: Live. She has performed as a soloist with numerous symphony orchestras across the country and in Canada, and at Carnegie Hall. She holds a BFA in musical theatre from the University of Cincinnati, College–Conservatory of Music.

Darius enjoys a multifaceted career as an actor, singer, and recording artist whose credits range from the Broadway stage to TV to concert venues throughout the world. His notable theatre, regional, and touring credits include his Obie Award-winning leading performance in Running Man (Music-Theater Group), Cain/Japheth in Children of Eden (Paper Mill Playhouse), Saturn Returns (The Public Theater), Cry, The Beloved Country (Goodman Theatre), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Playwrights Horizons), Once on This Island (first national tour), the world premiere of the John Adams/June Jordan opera I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar—Gospel (Alliance Theatre), and Duke Senior in As You Like It (Public Works/The Public Theater Delacorte). He made his Broadway debut in Kiss of the Spider Woman, followed by the premiere productions of Carousel (revival at Lincoln Center), Rent, The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm, Marie Christine, and Shuffle Along. He is the singing voice of Shy Baldwin on the TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He has been a soloist with several leading orchestras and music halls around the country. He has also performed as soloist at Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, and The Kennedy Center. Darius serves on the international board of directors for Covenant House, which provides shelter and services for homeless youth here in the U.S. and South America. He is also a founding member of the organization Black Theatre United whose mission is to address and break down the walls of systemic and institutional racism in the theatre and in our country. He is featured on numerous original cast albums and soundtrack recordings, as well as his solo recording, Darius de Haas: Day Dream—Variations on Strayhorn, and Quiet Please (with renowned pianist Steven Blier). Darius released his first Christmas single last year.

Television: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration (creator, exec. producer, and performer), Broadway Remembers (director), Dopesick, The Good Fight, Law & Order: SVU, Hannibal, The Path, Suspicion, Bojack Horseman, Pushing Daisies. Film: Find Me Guilty, Custody, Ferdinand, My Soul to Take, Elian, Glimpse. Broadway: Leap of Faith, Arcadia, Speed-the-Plow, The Homecoming, Company, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Taboo, Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Show. Off Broadway: Seared; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui; The Normal Heart; Comedians; tick, tick…BOOM!; ENCORES!: Anyone Can Whistle; The Cradle Will Rock; Road Show. Shakespeare in the Park’s Twelfth Night, Cymbeline. Kennedy Center: Chess, 2002 Sondheim Celebration: Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along. Regional: The Waves; Cry, The Beloved Country; Slaughterhouse-Five; Fur; What the Butler Saw; Arcadia. Four-time Tony Award nominee in every acting category. Recipient of the Obie, the New York Outer Critics Award, the Barrymore, the LA Ovation Award, the Jose Ferrer Award, three Drama Desk Awards, and the Theater World Award.

Broadway: Gettin’ the Band Back Together (Robbie), My Fair Lady 2019 Lincoln Center Theater revival (Zoltan), Bombay Dreams (Akaash—Drama League nomination). National Tour: Miss Saigon. Off Broadway: Merrily We Roll Along, Yeast Nation, Falsettoland, Sidd, suburbia, Getting Home, and Fucking A. Regional: La Jolla Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Baltimore Centerstage, Yale Rep, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, The MUNY, Pittsburgh CLO. Film/ TV: 99 homes, The Love Guru, The Last Airbender, Emergence, Bull, Blacklist, Unforgettable, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU, Rubicon, Nurse Jackie, The Sopranos. Manu is a proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

This is Alice’s first project with Berkeley Rep. Alice appeared in The Waves as Rhoda at New York Stage and Film/Vassar. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Diana Goodman in Next to Normal. Original Broadway cast: Next to Normal, Side Show (Tony nomination, Best Actress in a Musical), The Rocky Horror Show, The Who’s Tommy, Sunset Boulevard, James Joyce’s The Dead, American Psycho, King David. Off Broadway: The Vagina Monologues (Westside Theatre), Civil War Christmas (New York Theatre Workshop), Cather County (Playwrights Horizons), Five Flights (Rattlestick Theater). Regional: Clybourne Park (Long Wharf Theatre), Tell Me on a Sunday (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes nomination), Company (Kennedy Center, Helen Hayes nomination), Shakespeare in Hollywood (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes nomination). Film: SUGAR!, Isn’t It Delicious, The Adulterer. Television: 30 Rock, The Tonight Show, The View, Blue Bloods, Hee Haw.

Lisa, formerly Berkeley Rep’s associate director, returns to the Theatre where she directed Culture Clash (Still) in America, The Good Book (co-written with Denis O’Hare), Office Hour, Watch on the Rhine, It Can’t Happen Here (2016 production and 2020 radio play adaptation), The Madwoman in the Volvo, An Iliad (also co-written with Denis O’Hare), Mother Courage, The Fall, and Antony & Cleopatra. She directed Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap at American Conservatory Theater last year. At Center Theatre Group, she recently directed Lynn Nottage’s Sweat as well as Culture Clash’s Chavez Ravine (2015 Ovation Award, Best Production); Palestine, New Mexico; and Water and Power; among other plays. A two-time Obie Award-winner, she has directed world premieres by Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, Naomi Wallace, Chay Yew, Luis Alfaro, Fernanda Coppel, David Henry Hwang, Stephen Belber, Jose Rivera, Ellen McLaughlin, Marlane Meyer, Philip Kan Gotanda, Lisa Ramirez, John Belluso, Caryl Churchill, Janusz Glowacki, Cheryl West, and many others at theatres including New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, Vineyard Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, Seattle Repertory, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, the Alley, and McCarter Theatre Center. She was associate director at La Jolla Playhouse for three years and resident director at Mark Taper Forum for 10 years. She is currently working on a new version of her musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, music by David Bucknam and Adam Gwon (premiered at NYTW 1990 and New York Stage and Film 2018); The Song of Rome with Denis O’Hare, commission for the McCarter Theatre; and The Idea of Order with composer Todd Almond, commissioned by Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, and Seattle Rep.

David was a self-taught pianist, composer, writer, director, choreographer, and teacher. His work for the stage included his musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, written with Lisa Peterson, which received Drama Desk Award nominations for best score and best direction; The Little Hours/Such a Pretty Little Picture, two related one acts based on the writings of Dorothy Parker; The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel with James Magruder and Ms. Peterson; and Mrs. Dalloway and the Aeroplane by Virginia Woolf, again with director Lisa Peterson. His music and lyrics for Lysistrata for The People’s Friendship Theatre in Moscow, Russia, became the first collaboration between Russian and American writers in musical theatre. He devised and composed Street Songs, a live, multimedia musical documentary dramatizing the lives of several street performers in NYC, which had workshops at The Public Theater and Musical Theater Works. He also left behind an unfinished original musical about growing up in upstate New York in the ‘80s called Everything on White Bread, which was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons. In 1989 David joined the faculty of Playwrights Horizons Theater School, where he helped develop the Music Theater Program which he ran until his death in 1998, at the age of 33. He served as the resident composer for the Hangar Theatre and the artistic director of its Lab Company in the early ‘80s. He was a member of the Dramatists Guild and attended Ithaca College.

Adam is a composer and lyricist whose musicals have been produced on six continents, in more than half a dozen languages. His off-Broadway credits include Scotland, PA (Roundabout Theatre Company—Drama Desk nomination, NYT Critic’s Pick), Ordinary Days (Roundabout Theatre Company, Keen Company revival—Drama League Award nomination), and Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside Theatre—NYT Critic’s Pick). Regionally, his musicals String, Cake Off, Cloudlands, The Boy Detective Fails, and Bernice Bobs Her Hair have premiered at South Coast Repertory, Signature Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse, Village Theatre, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, and others. His songs have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and more, by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, and Brian d’Arcy James. Recordings of Adam’s work include Ordinary Days (Ghostlight Records), Audra McDonald’s Go Back Home (Nonesuch), Artists in Residence (Broadway Records), The Essential Liz Callaway, and Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Album.

Mary-Mitchell is a conductor, music director, orchestrator, composer, and arranger. Broadway: The Prom, Mean Girls, My Love Letter to Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth, For The Girls, Tuck Everlasting, Finding Neverland, Big Fish, The Addams Family, Company, and Sweeney Todd. Drama Desk Award for Best Orchestrations for Company. She is the founder and executive director of ASTEP—Artists Striving To End Poverty ( which uses the arts to work with children in under-resourced communities. She is a Founding Member of MUSE—Musicians United for Social Equity ( She is from North Carolina and has taught on the faculties of Juilliard, NYU, and Boston College.

Mêlisa is a Jill of many trades, and is so proud of everyone’s work on The Waves in Quarantine. This is her second producing project during the pandemic, the first being a feature-length movie written and directed by Theresa Rebeck, Glimpse. As well as producing, Mêlisa is an award-winning playwright; her plays have been developed and presented at and with Primary Stages, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Parity Productions, The Lark, The New School, Tangent Theatre, About Face Dublin, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. She is currently working on a new musical The King’s Wife, written with Grammy Award nominee Jamie Floyd. TV and commercial writing includes Jessy & Nessy (Amazon Studios), Trader Joe’s Frequent Flyer segments, and Conde Nast online videos. As a director, Mêlisa has had the pleasure of working with and at Red Bull Theater (Something in the Ground by Theresa Rebeck), Primary Stages (A Walk with Heifetz, The Clinic, A Christmas Carol), The Ambassadors Theatre Group, London (Tom and Jerry vs Fred Quimby by James Inverne), The Arcola Theatre, London (Remember the Future by Yasmine Lever), Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Matilda, the Musical), Athena Film Festival (Lucky 13 by Denise Meyers), Shadowland Stages (The Night Alive, Mystery of Love & Sex, Disgraced), Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (various readings), Clutch Productions at HERE Art Space NYC (The Worth of Water by Tira Palmquist), Tangent Theatre (Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker), Rebellious Subjects (Henry V, Twelfth Night, Hamlet). Mêlisa also teaches at the NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, and she is a fluent Welsh language speaker. Diolch!

Zelmira is a British/Argentine cinematographer. Her recent credits include Luxor (Sundance 2020), The Outside Story (Tribeca 2020), EGG (Tribeca 2018), Tooth and Nail (SXSW 2018), So Good To See You (Sundance 2016), and Havana Motor Club (Tribeca 2016). She has worked all over the world shooting narrative, commercial, and documentary work. She lives between New York and Stockholm.

Rachel is a set designer based in New York. Her work on Broadway includes Hadestown, What the Constitution Means to Me, and Latin History for Morons. Recent work in New York includes The Wrong Man (MCC), Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop), Othello and Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova), You’ll Still Call Me by Name (Sonya Tayeh/Jacob’s Pillow), and Tiny Beautiful Things and Dry Powder (The Public Theater), among others. Rachel is fortunate to have designed for Berkeley Rep many times, including The Good Book, It Can’t Happen Here, Mother Courage, An Iliad, as well as the upcoming Swept Away. She is the recipient of an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence and a Tony Award for her design of Hadestown.

Polina Sapershteyn | Editor
Chris Morrissey | Post Production Supervisor
Mike Karns | Marathon Digital Founder & CEO


Marathon Digital is Broadway’s first social media marketing agency, representing revolutionary shows and other live entertainment clients in New York City and around the world. Marathon specializes in social media marketing, video production, and live and pre-recorded virtual events. Select clients and collaborators include HamiltonHadestownAin’t Too Proud, the Drama Desk Awards, Juilliard, The Kennedy Center, and more.

Benedict is an Australian music director, composer, orchestrator, and music producer, and is thrilled to work with Berkeley Rep for the first time. Recent credits include associate music director for the Mean Girls national tour, associate music director/orchestrator for Kristin Chenoweth: For the Girls on Broadway, and associate music director for Cyrano. Benedict joined the Goodspeed Opera House music team for their 2019 season. He has worked on various virtual galas, including Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Gala, and Broadway Backwards 2021. He was the associate music director for HBO’s Home School Musical: Class of 2020. Recent albums featuring his work include Jessica Vosk’s A Very Coco Christmas and Big Sky City Light’s upcoming record. Benedict is a proud graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Audrey Hoo | Production Manager
Katie Craddock | Production Assistant / Dramaturg
Bill Curran | Additional Cinematography
Lane Elms | Technical Supervisor / Post Production Assistant
Angela Don | Associate Online Camera Operator and Sound
Michael Kelly | Post Production Assistant
Benjamin Michel | Assistant Editor
Madeleine Oldham | Dramaturg

Meg Bucknam
John Carrafa
Michele Esparza
Jesse Frohman
Nick Kourtides
Michael Krass
Jeff Kready
Robert Moss
New York Stage and Film
Jim Nicola
Kyle Rudy
Jen Schriever
Paul Telfer
John Wascavage


Yearning to dive deeper into the world of The Waves in Quarantine and the novel that inspired it? Here are some of our favorite revelatory readings and videos.

  • The great Patti Smith recites a selection from, and riffs on, The Waves at a 2008 exhibition of her photography in Paris.
  • Virginia Woolf’s diary entries about The Waves, from a 1927 entry noting that “slowly ideas began trickling in,” through completing it in 1931 and nervously sharing the manuscript with her husband Leonard: “It is a masterpiece” said L. coming out to my lodge this morning. “And the best of your books.” This note I make; adding that he also thinks the first 100 pages extremely difficult, & is doubtful how far any common reader will follow. But Lord! What a relief!”
  • Matt Levin wrote for the Paris Review about reading The Waves very early in the COVID-19 pandemic and why it’s the perfect novel for the state of interiority induced by quarantine.
  • In a July 2020 piece for the New Yorker, Kamran Javadizadeh wrote about how Virginia Woolf concealed her brother Thoby’s death by typhus from a friend recovering from the same illness, pretending in letters that he was improving. The piece reflects on Woolf’s impulse to leave behind a climate of illness and imagine a different future—and how keenly relatable it is amidst a pandemic. The character Percival in The Waves is based on Thoby.
  • This New York Times travel article, “In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lost Eden in Cornwall,” intersperses gorgeous photographs with descriptions of St. Ives, where Woolf spent each summer as a child. The setting provided inspiration for several of her works, including The Waves.
  • The complete novel The Waves can be read online at Project Gutenberg Australia.

See and hear

Official trailer: The Waves in Quarantine

Featuring Alice Ripley, Raúl Esparza, Carmen Cusack, Nikki Renée Daniels, Darius de Haas, and Manu Narayan, this film in six movements meditates on friendship, loss, and the making of art in this world-changing year, based on a musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1931 masterpiece.

Opening night conversation: The Waves in Quarantine

A conversation about The Waves in Quarantine with director/writer Lisa Peterson, actor and associate director Raúl Esparza, and composer/lyricist Adam Gwon, led by Berkeley Rep’s artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer took place on April 29, 2021.

Join our email list
Be the first to hear about our shows, get a jump on tickets, and take advantage of special offers.


By using this site, you agree to our privacy policy.