The first season at Berkeley Repertory Theatre under incoming artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer is beginning to take shape as four shows were announced Wednesday.
The shows now on the docket for the 2019 - 2020 season (much of which still remains TBA) are:
The Great Wave by Francis Turnly - a geopolitical thriller set in Japan that will be making its American premiere at Berkeley Rep this fall following its run at the National Theatre in London last year.
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh - the 2018 winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, following an off-Broadway run, that tells the story of Paulina, the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school and a hopeful for the Miss Universe pageant.
Culture Clash (Still) in America by Culture Clash - the latest piece by Bay Area-born, LA-based theater company Culture Clash that attempts to skewer the news and the American experience through the lens of Latin culture.
Swept Away, a new musical by John Logan and the Avett Brothers - this world premiere set for summer 2020 tells the story of two young men stranded in Massachusetts in 1888 after their whaling ship sinks.
“I am thrilled to bring this eclectic group of artists to the Bay Area for my first season at Berkeley Rep," Pfaelzer says in a statement.
It should be noted that Pfaelzer won't be doing the traditional duty of directing one or more shows every season as regional theater artistic directors — and her predecessor Tony Taccone — typically do. As she told the Chronicle upon her hiring announcement last September, she's not a director and "I won’t somehow one day become one. It’s not like a secret aspiration."
So Pfaelzer (pronounced like "Feltzer") will be playing the role of producer, editor, and curator at Berkeley Rep, without the ego associated with ferrying one's own work to the stage.
Prior to taking this job at Berkeley Rep, as the Chronicle previously reported, Pfaelzer had a hand in developing Hamilton, the Green Day musical American Idiot (which premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2009), and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, which wowed Bay Area audiences (and me) at The Curran in 2017. The latter was developed partly at New York Stage and Film, where Pfaelzer helped to develop one last summer season of works in progress this year.
Stay tuned for more details as the next season at the theater is fully fleshed out.
Photo of the Avett Brothers at Outside Lands in 2009 by Moses Namkung