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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

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Seeing "An Iliad" was a great theatre experience for myself and my guest. The person I attended with is an expert on ancient Greek literature, and a theatre goer who appreciates good productions. And, as a former stage, TV, and film director, my standards for determining good theatre are pretty high as well. Both of us enjoyed the production and were in awe of the actor's ability. We can honestly say that it was one of the best theatre experiences we've had a long time, and easily the best ever in the Bay Area. Congratulations, and our thanks!