Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced the cast and creative team for its world premiere of Eve Ensler's EMOTIONAL CREATURE. This positive and propulsive new show – from the Tony Award-winning playwright, performer, and activist who created The Vagina Monologues – features a choreographer, a composer, four top designers, and an ensemble of talented young women. Directed by Obie Award-winner Jo Bonney, Emotional Creature plays only 36 performances in the Roda Theatre. The limited engagement at Berkeley Rep begins previews tonight, June 14, opens June 22, and runs through July 15. The lead producers of this premiere are Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Marjorie Randolph, and Jack and Betty Schafer; the executive producer is the Strauch Kulhanjian Family. The development of this production has been supported in part by The Mosse Artistic Development Fund.
Eve Ensler's latest effort to empower people is based on her bestselling novel I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World. This powerful new play is made up of original monologues, irresistible songs, and music about and for girls. Placing their stories squarely center stage, it gives full expression to their secret voices and innermost thoughts, highlighting the diversity and commonality of the issues they face. Emotional Creature is a call, a reckoning, an education, an act of empowerment for girls, and an illumination for parents and for us all. It debuts in Berkeley following successful workshops in Johannesburg and Paris. Known for launching high-profile projects such as American Idiot and Passing Strange, Berkeley Rep is the perfect place to begin this journey.
"Emotional Creature is about being a girl in the world in 2012 and about discovering the girl in each of us," Ensler remarks. "It is about changing the verb from please to create or defy or resist or imagine. It is about traveling and dancing and refusing. It is about telling secrets and breaking taboos and building a posse. Where else would we begin this in America than Berkeley, in what other theatre than Berkeley Rep, which has a gorgeous history of pushing The Edge, engaging in social issues, and conjuring community. I am thrilled at the extraordinary, diverse, wildly talented, and committed actors, producers, and creative team – and of course our musical director Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and director Jo Bonney – who will take Emotional Creature to the next level."
"Eve Ensler is a force of nature," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "Her passion, joy, and complete commitment to the making of Emotional Creature were immediately apparent to me. She is dedicated to this almost antiquated idea that theatre can change lives – and she settles for nothing less. This show is more evidence of that idea. Ms. Ensler has found a way to give women, girls, and all of us an important opportunity to express ourselves in a creative and dynamic way. It's thrilling for us to be part of it."
Eve Ensler is the author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been translated into 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries, including sold-out runs off Broadway and on London's West End. Her experience performing that show inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Her other work includes plays such as The Good Body and Here, the memoir Insecure at Last, and the anthology A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer, co-edited with Mollie Doyle.
Jo Bonney has directed world premieres for noted writers such as Alan Ball, Eric Bogosian, Culture Clash, Jessica Goldberg, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Lynn Nottage, Darci Picoult, Suzan Lori-Parks, José Rivera, Christopher Shinn, Diana Son, Naomi Wallace, and Michael Weller. At Berkeley Rep, she staged the world premiere of Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals & Hip Hop. Off Broadway, her production of Will Power's The Seven won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and her staging of Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July won the Lortel Award for Best Revival.
The play features music and music direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. Lingenfelder is an actor, musician, musical director, and composer who is renowned in his native South Africa as the creator of highly innovative and controversial shows, He has written original music for more than 50 plays, television programs, and films, and has served as musical director on more than 20 musicals. For the last five years, he has also co-owned the highly successful Warehouse Theatre in Cape Town. The choreographer for Emotional Creature is Luam. She is an internationally renowned choreographer who has worked with top artists including Beyonce, Rihanna, Brittany Spears, and Kanye West. Her film and television credits include Making the Band 4, Step Up Revolution, and Beyonce's new documentary special, Year of 4. Luam has been nominated twice for Best Choreography by Dance Track Magazine, and her videos on YouTube have more than 30 million views.
The cast for Emotional Creature showcases six performers. Ashley Bryant performed on Broadway in A Free Man of Color. Her other New York credits include shows with Creative Destruction, Cypher Productions, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Theatre Askew, and her regional experience includes American Repertory Theatre, Crossroads Theatre Company, Florida Studio Theatre, Hartford Stage, and Shakespeare & Company. Molly Carden has appeared in The Bird, The Two-Ton Weight, and many readings and workshops at Ensemble Studio Theatre, where she is a company member. Her other credits include It's Poison at New York's Red Room and The Great Immensity for The Civilians and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Emily S. Grosland has been seen at the California Theatre Center, Florida Studio Theatre, Sanguine Theatre Company, Stages St. Louis, and Theatre L'Homme Dieu. She also performed in Wagner's Ring Cycle at Los Angeles Opera and the North American tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Joaquina Kalukango performed on Broadway in Godspell. Her off-Broadway credits include Rent at New World Stages and Hurt Village at the Signature Theatre, which earned her a nomination for the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. Sade Namei performed weekly in #Serials@theFlea as part of the Bats, the resident Acting Company at Flea Theater. Her other New York credits include The Flying Latke at the Flea, KNEAD at Performance Space 122, Leaves of Grass at The Cell, and In Medias Res, her one-woman show at the Iranian Theater Festival. Olivia Oguma appeared on Broadway in A Christmas Carol, Les Misérables, and Mamma Mia! and off Broadway in BFE at Playwrights Horizons, La Dispute at National Asian American Theatre Company, and Sarah Plain & Tall at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. She has also been seen on film and TV, at many regional theatres, and in the first national tour of Disney's High School Musical.
The creative team for Emotional Creature features four exceptional designers. Myung Hee Cho (scenic and costume design) created costumes for Berkeley Rep's premiere of 36 Views. Her many credits in the U.S. include productions at Center Theatre Group, Chicago Opera, the Kennedy Center, The Public Theater, Signature Theatre, and South Coast Repertory. Her work has also been seen in Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto, and beyond. Lap Chi Chu (lighting design) served as lighting designer for Berkeley Rep's production of Ruined. His off-Broadway credits include New York Theatre Workshop, P.S. 122, The Public, and Second Stage Theatre, and his regional experience includes Arena Stage, CTG, Goodman Theatre, the Huntington Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, and Portland Center Stage. He earned the Angstrom Award for Career Achievement in Lighting Design from the L.A. Drama Critics Circle. Jake Rodriguez (sound design) is contributing to his fifth world premiere at Berkeley Rep, following Fêtes de la Nuit, Girlfriend, Passing Strange, and The People's Temple. He has countless credits on local stages such as American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, and Z Space. Shawn Sagady (video design) has designed for Broadway (Leap of Faith and Memphis) and off Broadway (By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and Father Comes Home from the War). His regional credits include La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where he worked on The White Snake, which comes to Berkeley Rep this fall. The stage manager for Emotional Creature is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's resident production stage manager.
Tickets for Emotional Creature start at $29 – half that for anyone under 30 years of age. Discounts are also available for groups, seniors, and students – and Berkeley Rep is giving away up to 3,000 free tickets to fellow nonprofits and government agencies that serve key constituencies, including at-risk youth, teens and young adults of both genders, and abuse victims of all ages, with priority given to organizations that serve women and girls. To request ticket donations, to nominate a worthy charity, or to discover other ways to become an Emotional Creature activist, visit berkeleyrep.org/ECaccess.
Let's get Emotional! The Roda Theatre is located at 2015 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots – and only half a block from BART. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or click berkeleyrep.org.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to a national leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. With two stages, a school, and a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Berkeley Rep is proud to premiere exhilarating new plays. In the last six years, the company has helped send six shows to Broadway. Seven more landed off Broadway, one moved to London, two turned into films, and others have toured the nation. Come see tomorrow's plays today at Berkeley Rep.
WHO: Written by Eve Ensler
Directed by Jo Bonney
Music and music direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder
Choreography by Luam
Designed by Myung Hee Cho (sets and costumes), Lap Chi Chu (lights), Jake Rodriguez (sound), and Shawn Sagady (video)
Starring Ashley Bryant, Molly Carden, Emily S. Grosland, Joaquina Kalukango, Sade Namei, and Olivia Oguma
WHAT: Emotional Creature, the world premiere of a new show about the secret lives of girls from the Tony Award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues
WHERE: Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704
WHEN: June 14 –July 15, 2012
· Tuesdays and Fridays @ 8:00 PM
· Wednesdays @ 7:00 PM
· Thursdays @ 8:00 PM – with bonus matinees at 2:00 PM on 7/5 and 7/12
· Saturdays @ 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
· Sundays @ 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM
· No matinees on 6/16 or 6/17
· No performances on 7/4 or 7/13
Low-cost previews: Thursday 6/14 through Thursday 6/21
Teen night: Friday 6/15 @ 6:30 PM
Opening night: Friday 6/22 @ 8:00 PM
Pre-show tasting: Saturday 7/14 @ 7:00 PM (Urbano Cellars)
Featured performances: Sunday 6/17 @ 7 PM (Fathers' Night), Thursday 6/21 @ 8 PM (Summer Solstice), Saturday 6/23 @ 8 PM (Mothers' Night), Thursday 6/28 @ 8 PM (LGBT Night), Friday 6/29 @ 8 PM (Date Night), Thursday 7/5 @ 8 PM (Independence Night)
HOW MUCH: $14.50 - $73 (subject to change)
Discounts: • Half-price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age
• $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain
• Groups of 15 or more, contact (510) 647-2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TIX & INFO: (510) 647-2949 – berkeleyrep.org
Photo Credit: Cheshire Isaacs
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