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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Theater

Mission: Berkeley Repertory Theatre seeks to set a national standard for ambitious programming, engagement with its audiences and leadership within the community in which it resides. We endeavor to create a diverse body of work that expresses a rigorous, embracing aesthetic and reflects the highest artistic standards, and seek to maintain an environment in which talented artists can do their best work. We strive to engage our audiences in an ongoing dialogue of ideas, and encourage lifelong learning as a core community value. Through productions, outreach and education, Berkeley Rep aspires to use theatre as a means to challenge, thrill and galvanize what is best in the human spirit.

Target demographics: Born in a storefront on College Avenue, Berkeley Rep has moved to the forefront of American theatre—and is still telling unforgettable stories. Founded in 1968 by Michael Leibert, the Theatre quickly earned respect for presenting the finest plays with top-flight actors. In 1980, with the support of the local community, Berkeley Rep built the 400-seat Thrust Stage where its reputation steadily grew over the next two decades. It gained renown for an adventurous combination of work, presenting important new dramatic voices alongside refreshing adaptations of seldom-seen classics. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. The company celebrated by unveiling a new 600-seat proscenium stage in 2001, the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre. It also opened the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, a permanent home for its long tradition of outreach and education programs. The addition of these two buildings transformed a single stage into a vital and versatile performing arts complex, the linchpin of a bustling Downtown Arts District which has helped revitalize Berkeley. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed more than 300 shows at Berkeley Rep, including 50 world premieres. In the last five years, Berkeley Rep has helped send eight hit shows to New York: Bridge & Tunnel, Brundibar, Eurydice, Passing Strange, Taking Over, Wishful Drinking, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, and American Idiot.

Direct beneficiaries per year: The Theatre now welcomes an annual audience of 200,000, serves 20,000 students and hosts dozens of community groups, thanks to 1,000 volunteers and more than 400 artists, artisans and administrators.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: Berkeley repertory theatre presented a record 525 performances of 12 shows for an audience of more than 200,000 attendees. Local media celebrated berkeley rep's shows with several front-page stories, and several productions attracted the attention of critics from los angeles and new york. Berkeley rep had an auspicious start to its 2013-14 season in august with a special engagement of harold pinter's no man's land starring ian mckellen, patrick stewart, billy crudup, and shuler hensley. Under the direction of sean mathias, these phenomenal actors of the stage and screen wowed bay area audiences before taking the production to broadway on a double bill with beckett's waiting for godot in the fall for an acclaimed run. The season officially began with the 2013 tony award winner for best play, christopher durang's vanya and sonia and masha and spike. The rollicking comedy that turned chekhov on his head and delighted audiences also reunited longtime berkeley rep actors sharon lockwood and lorri holt along with director richard e. T. White. The pianist of willesden lane was a surprise hit of the season. The true story of pianist lisa jura, a young jewish musician whose dreams are interrupted by the nazi regime, was played by her daughter mona golabek, a concert pianist who also performed some of the world's most beautiful music live. The show enjoyed two extensions and broke box office records, with many patrons reporting that they saw it two or three times. In march, actor steven epp returned to berkeley rep with a criminally funny accidental death of an anarchist by dario fo, directed by christopher bayes. In keeping with fo's original intention for the play, they updated the script to include references to the great recession, eliciting a passionate response from audience members. Nina raine's tribes followed. The story of a young deaf man trying to find a place in a world where everyone needs to be heard, tribes featured a deaf actor james caverly, who previously performed the role at a theatre on the east coast. James had an asl interpreter who worked with him in rehearsals, performances, and was also available night and day. The production had an asl consultant, anthony natale, who is best known for his performance in the film mr. Holland's opus and who ensured the signs used on stage were appropriate. Berkeley rep did extensive outreach to the deaf community, hiring a consultant from the community and scheduling three asl performances and three open-captioning performances (an additional two). Audiences could use their smartphones to scan images in the show program and in the lobby to view an asl video translation. And the video display in the lobby featured a welcome message in asl. Berkeley rep was proud to present the world premiere of the house that will not stand, a witty and sensuous play that we commissioned from oakland native marcus gardley and developed in the ground floor: berkeley rep's center for the creation and development of new work. This powerful drama about free women of color in 1836 new orleans earned terrific reviews before it went on acclaimed productions at yale repertory theatre and tricycle theatre in london. Berkeley rep also offered up two west coast premieres. Kneehigh returned with tristan & yseult, a fantastically inventive take on the classic love story, which enjoyed an extended run. Artistic director tony taccone teamed up with longtime collaborator tony kushner for the epic tale of love, family, sex, money, and politics in the intelligent homosexual's guide to capitalism and socialism with a key to the scriptures. The winner of two tony awards, three obies, an emmy, and a pulitzer prize, kushner reworked the script significantly for its berkeley rep run, which featured mark margolis, known for his role in the award-winning tv series breaking bad.

the berkeley rep school of theatre provides comprehensive arts experiences for students throughout the bay area each year. Through onsite classes and scholarships, student matinees, and free and deeply discounted arts education in-classroom residencies, berkeley rep ensures broad access to some of the bay area's finest teaching artists and productions. The berkeley rep school of theatre's outreach programs reinforce california state board of education content standards in the fields of english, language arts, history-social science, mathematics, physical education, and visual and performing arts. Over the fiscal year, the berkeley rep school of theatre served 24,136 students through in-classroom programming, onsite classes, student matinees, teen night events, and the teen one acts. Our in-classroom programs for local schools and community centers in nine bay area counties provided 25,170 contact hours - 47% of which were to title 1-funded schools. The school also offered 66 scholarships for its onsite programs totaling nearly $30,000 in program services. Over 400 bay area teens took part in nearly 7,000 contact hours of art and leadership training through the free teen council. Fourteen arts organizations across the country have instituted programs modeled on berkeley rep's teen council.

berkeley rep also offered a number of other special presentations, including audience favorite hershey felder. After the smash success of george gershwin alone in the previous season, he returned with two shows from his composers sonata series: hershey felder as leonard bernstein in maestro and monsieur chopin, both of which enjoyed sold-out performances. We also hosted the 10th anniversary engagement of brian copeland's not a genuine black man, the longest-running solo show in san francisco's history. This tale of growing up black in one of america's most racist suburbs opened our third space, the osher studio. And berkeley rep welcomed back mikhail baryshnikov along with the masterminds behind the obie award-winning big dance theater for an innovative take on two of anton chekhov's short stories, man in a case and about love. At other times, berkeley rep opens its doors to organizations and individuals from the community for a wide range of events. In addition to our downtown campus, we also offered three new studios in the berkeley central building in downtown berkeley. With a 20-year lease on this 13,000-square-foot facility, berkeley rep is providing the studios at a subsidized rate to local nonprofits that do not have permanent homes of their own, such as the bay area children's theatre and ragged wing ensemble. Other organizations that annually use our main theatres include lawrence berkeley national labs, the jewish film festival, and the berkeley fire department, which holds its annual badge ceremony in berkeley reps theatre and courtyard. We are proud to forge partnerships with fellow nonprofits to continue transforming downtown into a destination for theatre lovers.

in the summer of 2014, the ground floor: berkeley rep's center for the creation and development of new work held its third summer lab received 400 applications and welcomed 18 projects featuring more than 30 innovative artists to its west berkeley campus for an intense four-week period where they lived, dined, created, and collaborated--taking advantage of the creative, forward-thinking, and risk-taking culture that is the hallmark of life in the bay area. Some of these projects ultimately land on berkeley rep's stages; many other land on stages throughout the country. Hundreds of our patrons and donors signed up for our ground floor email list, and they received invites to the several free public workshops and staged readings.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Shelley18

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am in avid theater-goer in the San Francisco Bay Area; I have subscriptions to SHN, A.C.T. and Berkeley Rep, and also regularly attend productions at the Shelton Theater, Gough St. Playhouse, BATS, and other small houses in San Francisco. I also have attended many theatrical productions in other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, London, Sydney, and Auckland. Nowhere in all of these places have I seen more consistently compelling, innovative, thought-provoking, and well-done productions than I have at Berkeley Rep. I learn something every time I go to a Berkeley Rep show, but it isn't that painful or unpleasant kind of learning, like taking your medicine. Because the shows are consistently well-staged, well-acted, well-directed, and well-produced, I enjoy watching the productions AND learning from them. I find myself thinking about them long after I've gone home, and bringing them up in conversations with others. I have been to many shows on and off Broadway and in London's West End, but I have to say that the best shows I've ever seen have been at Berkeley Rep.

Comments ( 1 )

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lynneve1 09/23/2014

Thank you for your lovely review! We're pleased to know how much you enjoy theatre, and especially Berkeley Rep.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Berkeley Rep represents the best of Bay Area theater and more. I've been attending plays since the late 70s and it has always produced consistently remarkable theater. No need to go to New York, we have Broadway-caliber theater right here in the Bay Area.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had so many experiences I never would have had otherwise. I never would have bought tickets to Green Day but I loved it so much, i saw it twice. Berkeley Rep has expanded my world.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The first play I ever saw at The Berkeley Rep Theatre was Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot." This was back in 1989. As an English Major I had of course studied the play before, and I knew it was a modern classic. What I experienced that evening was a respectful handling of a classic play, but a stunning example of live theater at its best. From the spare stage design, to the electric performances, The Berkeley Rep brought Becket to life it way that was both heart-breaking and life affirming at the same time.

I have seen many, many productions at Berkeley Rep since then, and it remains for me the company that most embodies what theater can and should be.

1 Sally37

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The actual theater experience is the best in the theater-rich bay area, buy beyond that, Berkeley Rep embodies the spirit of the community. At my level of donation, one of the perks is that I get to donate tickets to a charity of my choice so in addition to enjoying excellent entertainment I am able to make someone else happy or participate in another fundraiser.

1 Cheri F.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The plays are often great and always an interesting experience. The outreach programs for teachers and students is a great resource in the community. We need quality arts!!!

1 Joanne A.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love Berkeley Rep. The professional plays and variety of productions never fail to entertain and give us the opportunity to explore issues that affect us personally or globally

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was actually drawn into participating at Berkeley Rep initially through my childrens' involvemet in their inspiring school of theater. I had been a season ticket holder for a few years and had always enjoyed their wide range of fantastic plays but getting to watch my kids thrive and experiment clarified for me how many ways aside from the actual performances Berkeley Rep was enhancing the community, as well as reinforcing how much fabulous experimentation was occurring onstage, within Berkeley Rep's choices for each season. This past Summer, I got to witness tidbits of truly inspiring new works in progress through their new Ground Floor program. I'm always excited to see what's next!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love Berkeley Rep and have been a subscriber for several years. It's first on my list of how to spend my recreational dollars. I am virtually never disappointed in their selection of works and the quality of the productions. I look forward to each play and bask in the glow of time well spent for several days after attending.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Berkeley Rep always does the unexpected, but An Illiad surpassed them all. A one-man show on a bare stage talking about the Trojan was did not sound promising, but I was captivated after 30 seconds and almost didn't blink for the 100 uninterrupted minutes of the play. Brilliantly written, fresh writing and clear delivery, passion and emotion and humor, with some verbal fireworks included, it was a stellar experience to see a master at work.