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Lisa Peterson New Associate Director at Berkeley Rep

Jacob Coakley • Changing Roles • July 25, 2016
Lisa Peterson
Lisa Peterson

Berkeley Repertory Theatre named two-time Obie-award winning director Lisa Peterson as associate director. Peterson will direct the season opener for Berkeley Rep (a new adaption of the Sinclair Lewis novel It Can’t Happen Here) as well as participate in The Ground Floor, Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work.

Theatre welcomes accomplished director to her new role

July 21, 2016 – Berkeley Rep’s Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone today announced the appointment of Lisa Peterson as associate director starting with the 2016-17 season. Peterson directs the season opener, It Can’t Happen Here, a world premiere adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel, penned by Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen, and other works. Peterson will also participate in The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, where her experience with the development of new plays will be of great value to the company.

“I am excited to welcome Lisa to our staff,” says Taccone. “She has an impressive track record as a preeminent director, of both new works and classics. Lisa is a terrific collaborator, and I feel lucky to be working with her on It Can’t Happen Here.”

“This is a kind of homecoming for me because I have always loved working at Berkeley Rep,” says Peterson. “I feel honored to join their team. Berkeley Rep produces some of the most exciting, challenging, and thoughtful work in the country. I look forward to being part of that crazily creative organization.”


Lisa Peterson is a two-time Obie Award-winning writer and director. Previous projects at Berkeley Rep include An Iliad (2012), which Lisa co-wrote with Denis O’Hare, and which won Obie and Lortel Awards for Best Solo Performance; Mother Courage (2006); The Fall (2001); and Antony & Cleopatra (1999). For California Shakespeare Theater, Lisa directed King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Other recent West Coast productions include Hamlet, Henry IV Pt 2, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Chavez Ravine (Ovation Award for Best Production), Palestine New Mexico, Electricidad, Water, The House of Bernarda Alba, Body of Bourne, and Mules (Mark Taper Forum). In New York, Peterson has directed The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek; Bexley, OH(!), or, Two Tales of One City; Traps; and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Obie Award for Direction), all at New York Theatre Workshop; King Liz (2nd Stage Uptown); Hamlet in Bed (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre);The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters and The Chemistry of Change (Playwrights Horizons); The Square and Tongue of a Bird (the Public Theater); Fourth Sister and Batting Cage (Vineyard Theatre); Collected Stories (Manhattan Theatre Club); and The Model Apartment (Primary Stages). In Canada, she recently directed The Philanderer (Shaw Festival) and The Trouble with Mr. Adams (Tarragon).

She has directed world premieres by many major American writers, including Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, Donald Margulies, Jose Rivera, Ellen McLaughlin, Mac Wellman, Marlane Meyer, Polly Pen, Stephen Belber, Naomi Wallace, and many others. She regularly works at the Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage in Baltimore, Long Wharf, Yale Rep, Hartford Stage, Intiman, Seattle Rep, Arena Stage, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Midwest Playlabs, Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Sundance Theatre Lab.

Upcoming projects include You Never Can Tell (Cal Shakes), Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Sheen Center), and a tour of An Iliad to Santiago and Abu Dhabi. Lisa and Denis are working on a commission for the McCarter Theatre titled The Song of Rome, and Lisa is writing a new music-theatre piece with Todd Almond called The Idea of Order, co-commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, and Seattle Rep.


Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international 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. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed nearly 400 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – which include the 400-seat Peet’s Theatre, the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. Learn more at


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 start-ups or a top-notch R&D facility for artists. 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. For more information on each project, and for future announcements or opportunities to interact, visit

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