Berkeley Rep’s The Ground Floor Awards Residencies to 18 Cutting-Edge Theatre Projects

by Michael Eddy
Berkeley Rep
Berkeley Rep

BERKELEY, CA—Madeleine Oldham, director of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, announced the 18 projects accepted into its sixth annual Summer Residency Lab. The projects were chosen from almost 600 submitted applications, the most the program has ever received.

Further information from Berkeley Rep (berkeleyrep.org/groundfloor/index.asp)

In June and July, some of the nation’s most prominent and promising writers, directors, performers, and composers will unite at the Theatre’s Harrison Street campus as part of an extraordinary and collaborative laboratory. Over an intense four-week period, they will share ideas, break bread, and create new plays. Dozens more local and out-of-town actors and directors will join the Summer Residency Lab as part of these projects, bringing the number of participating artists close to 100.

2017 residencies are awarded to Christina Anderson (pen/man/ship), Glen Berger (Underrneath the Lintel), Eugenie Chan (Madame Ho), Dustin Chinn (Let’s Ninja Science Ranger Team Get!), Sarah DeLappe (The Wolves), Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Last Night and the Night Before), Daniel Handler (The Composer is Dead), Martyna Majok (Ironbound), Tony Meneses (Guadalupe in the Guest Room), James Harrison Monaco and Jerome Ellis (Aaron/Marie), Sylvan Oswald (Pony), Lisa Peterson (An Iliad) and Todd Almond (Girlfriend), Max Posner (The Treasurer), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), Kate E. Ryan (Dot), Diana Lynn Small (Mad & a Goat), Jonathan Spector (Good,Better,Best,Bested), and Mfoniso Udofia (Sojourners).

 “The Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab is my favorite four weeks of the year,” says Oldham. “It always feels great to make space for art and imagination, but it’s especially necessary right now to nurture creativity. This outstanding group of artists are some of the most inventive, thoughtful and inspired humans I have met, and we can’t wait to welcome them to Berkeley.”

The Ground Floor was launched with seed funding from the James Irvine Foundation’s Artistic Innovation Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and ArtPlace. This year’s program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtWorks, Bank of America, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and individual supporters of Berkeley Rep’s Create Campaign.

Complete list of the artists and projects selected for the sixth annual Summer Residency Lab:

•Christina Anderson will work on her Berkeley Rep commission, exploring the power of water and the practice of radical healing in a Black community.

•Glen Berger’s The New Frontier, a Berkeley Rep commission, is about the Frontiersmen – the (fictional) most popular folk trio of 1962 – who are holed up in a cabin in Big Sur to finally finish the damn overdue album they owe Capitol Records.

•Eugenie Chan and composer Byron Au Yong will work on The Chan Family Picnic, A Nouvelle Vaudeville, which explores the American legacy of anti-Asian legislation, sex trafficking, race, and exploitation through the story of a Chinese gold rush immigrant family.

•Dustin Chinn’s Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Delicious is a triptych that spans the evolution of Vietnamese noodles, which are indisputably better on the West Coast than in New York.

•Sarah DeLappe’s Richard in 9 Poses is about a community figure drawing class with women artists and a nude male model.

•In Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Laid to Rest, Vanda’s son Clarence becomes yet another hashtag in the ongoing fight against police brutality. While struggling to find a sense of peace, Vanda attempts to reclaim his story in the concrete offline spaces of the real world.

•Daniel Handler’s Imaginary Comforts, or, The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit is a play about death, addiction, and the stories we tell each other… and also what happens when you mistake a rabbi for a rabbit.

•Martyna Majok will be completing a play about two generations of immigrant women whose lives pass through the same basement apartment in Queens, NY from 2001 to 2017.

•In Tony Meneses’ Between Here and the City of Mexico, a girl searches for a path to call her own amidst waves of protests in 1968 Mexico City.

•With Museum, created with director Rachel Chavkin, storyteller-musicians James Harrison Monaco and Jerome Ellis turn their attention to visual art and our relationship to image as inspiration, seeking to create a new kind of “museum tour.”

•Sylvan Oswald’s TRAINERS, or The Brutal Unpleasant Atmosphere of This Most Disagreeable Season imagines a second American civil war, where artists and intellectuals must travel constantly to survive and be ready for battle at a moment’s notice.

•Lisa Peterson and Todd Almond will do further work on their Berkeley Rep commission, The Idea of Order, a musical about the role of poetry in our lives, inspired by the life and work of Wallace Stevens.

•Max Posner’s Giddiness is a private account of an unpredictable and ongoing medical disaster and our chronically nonsensical healthcare system.

•Kemp Powers’ The Two Reds tells the story of the formative years of friends Malcolm X and Redd Foxx, who were working together, hustling together, and even living together (though both were homeless and living on a rooftop) in 1940s Harlem. 

•Kate E. Ryan’s new play (to be produced by Z Space in San Francisco in 2018) tells the story of the confrontation between a group of liberal-minded women in the Bay Area and a woman who holds more conservative beliefs about gender roles.

•Diana Lynn Small’s House Play, a site-specific play performed in a home, aims to diversify the theatre audience by playing in towns that may not have traditional theatre buildings. Audiences will be invited to envision the possibilities of the home as spaces for community engagement, play, liberation, and falling in love with other people.

•Jonathan Spector’s This Much I Know explores how we make decisions and what it takes to change our minds, using the revolutionary work of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman as a lens to look at the distance between what we know and what we think we know.

•Mfoniso Udofia will work to complete an installation in the Ufot Family Cycle entitled Adia and Clora Snatch Joy.

About The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work - As the umbrella for all new play activity at Berkeley Rep, The Ground Floor is a bold initiative designed to raise the bar on the Tony Award–winning nonprofit’s already successful record of artistic innovation. Think of it as an incubator for theatrical startups or a top-notch R&D facility for artists. For more information on each project, and for future announcements or opportunities to interact, visit berkeleyrep.org/groundfloor