BERKELEY, CALIF.: Berkeley Repertory Theatre has selected 14 projects to be developed in its fourth Ground Floor summer residency lab, an incubator for the creation and development of new work. Among the artists selected out of more than 400 applicants are Lucas Hnath, Julia Cho, Jackie Sibblies Drury and Naomi Iizuka.
“From commissioned artists and returning friends to brand new faces, we feel as though we’re living up to our promise to ourselves to build as diverse and rigorous a creative atmosphere as possible,” said Madeleine Oldham, director of the Ground Floor and resident dramaturg at Berkeley Rep, in a statement. “Playwrights, designers, musicians, directors, actors, and solo performers will come together in a rare opportunity to imagine alongside each other…Now in the fourth year of the Summer Residency Lab, we feel as though we’re hitting our stride.”
The individual artists and teams will begin developing projects at the theatre starting this June. They include:
César Alvarez and Lucas Hnath, Castro. This “musical extravaganza” tells the allegedly true story of Marita Lorenz, Fidel Castro’s lover, who was hired by the CIA to assassinate him.
Christopher Chen and Mei Ann Teo, Passage. A fantasia based on E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, it replaces Britain and India with two imagined countries.
Julia Cho, Aubergine. Billed as “a meditation on family, forgiveness and food,” this play is already slated for its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in February 2016. . Liesl Tommy will direct the workshop.
Jackie Sibblies Drury, Untitled. She’ll work on a new play about surveillance and the people who listen in.
Anne Galjour, The Alligator Ball (working title). In this play set on the eve of the BP oil spill, a couple decides to buy an alligator farm.
Rinne Groff, Fire in Dreamland. This coming-of-age story tells of a girl entangled with a Dutch filmmaker who is trying to create a film about the tragic 1911 fire on Coney Island. It will be directed by Marissa Woolf.
Eric Hoff, Will Davis, and SK Kerastas, Color Guard (working title). This piece will look at how a military ritual became a space for men to express their femininity.
Jamie Hook, Rules to Follow in Cloud Engineering. This is based on story of Dr. Wilhelm Reich Hook, who was once Freud’s heir apparent before turning into a paranoid, UFO-chasing crackpot.
Naomi Iizuka and Rachel Dickstein/Ripe Time, Sleep. Based on the short story by Haruki Murakami, Sleep will weave together dance, language and visual design to tell the story of a Japanese housewife who escapes from her mundane world when she closes her eyes.
Hansol Jung, Wolf Play. A Korean boy’s adoptive father gives him to a new family, who turn out to be a lesbian couple. The boy will be played by a puppet.
Sean Christopher Lewis and Jennifer Fawcett, Ghost Story. This haunting tale about a missing brother will employ found footage and interviews stored in cassette.
Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown. The singer/songwriter will further develop this folk-rock opera based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a post-apocalyptic Depression–era company town. Mitchell will collaborate with arranger/orchestrator Michael Chorney and Bay Area native producer/musician Todd Sickafoose.
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and Danny Scheie, A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry. Confirmed bachelor Weston Ludlow Londonderry will lead this guided tour through an absurdly wealthy and eccentric couple’s mansion.
Annie Smart, The Summer Play. An adaptation of Finnish author Tove Jansson’s 1972 novel The Summer Book, this will follow three generations of one family—a grandmother, a father and daughter Sophia—who spend their first vacation together after the death of Sophia’s mother.
The Ground Floor was inaugurated in 2012, and since then has hosted more than 300 artists working on 45 projects. with more than 300 artists have worked on 45 projects. Three works developed at the Ground Floor has played at Berkeley Rep:KJ Sanchez and Jenny Mercein’s X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story) (2015), Marcus Gardley’s The House that will not Stand (2014), and Dan LeFranc’s Troublemaker, or The Freakin’ Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright (2013).
Berkeley Rep is in the middle of a $50 million capital campaign to transform a vacant warehouse into the site for the Ground Floor, with rehearsal halls and housing for visiting artists.