After an extended time of restriction due to the current disease, there has been the reintroduction of in-person theatre performances across the Bay Area since . The return, however, is not enough compared to pre-COVID levels of attendance and production. This year has seen a lot of rebirth and turmoil with the departure of the long-time Berkeley Repertory Theatre managing director Susie Medak, as well other artistic directors like California Shakespeare Theatre’s Eric Ting, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Rebecca Ennals, AlterTheater’s Jeanette Harrison and Marin Theatre Company’s Jasson Minadakis. There is no doubt that there is progress despite this significant shift.
In the time of the San the city’s EXIT Theatre and San Jose’s Dragon Productions Theatre Company both closing down their theatres as well as Cal Shakes announcing that it could not present any plays in the coming year, the legendary Uers Playhouse reopened after a time of 6 years of reconstruction. In spite of this sad news however, there were plenty of fantastic productions in local theatres throughout the year; I am incredibly grateful to have been present for 10 of the most memorable moments. It is my intention to highlight “Indecent” which was performed at the San Francisco Playhouse. Paula Vogel’s inventive work centers on Sholem Asch’s Yiddish production.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre presented “Dana H,”” a gripping play by Lucas Hnath. It was a one-person play. There was a controversy over its development, such as the arrest of the entire cast for obscenity, is depicted in this enthralling play. The play is paired with the increasing prevalence of antisemitism within Europe that time. With the guidance of Susi Damilano the production was incredibly resonant due to the incredible cast who effortlessly shifted roles inside a spectacular play-within-a-play. Jordan Baker gives a riveting performance, capturing the words and the voice of writer Hnath’s mom during her abduction for months.
The masterful direction of Les Waters and his authentic story of the play produced a deeply moving and intense experience at “Hadestown,” an exclusive post-Broadway production. This original show impressed audiences with its engaging mix of jazz, blues and folk songs. The show also included an emotional, captivating rendition of Eurydice as well as Orpheuswho descends to Hades. Kimberly Marable’s enthralling performance as Persephone an exuberant leader of in Hades is worthy of praise.
Aurora Theatre Company’s rendition of Jonathan Spector’s “This Much I Know” is an exceptional production, executed by the director Jackson Gay, that relays the story of a family struggling with their personal struggles to incorporate the public pool system in the Kansas city. The story spans several generations and the styles of the era and is expertly told with elegance along with humor and captivating performances. This thought-provoking piece provides a compelling perspective on this important topic.
It was the first time that Berkeley Repertory Theatre premiered “Goddess”, a world-premiere of the show. Rajesh Bose, Anna Ishida and Kenny Toll played their roles as semi-reformed white supremacists. Jocelyn Bioh wrote the musical using Michael Thurber’s lyrics. The production included the character of an African musical god, that was pulsating with rhythm and enthralling choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie, as well as stunning vocals by Amber Iman, who played the title goddess.
As a summary, the Aurora Theatre Company’s production of Jonathan Spector’s “This Much I Know” is a masterful production, directed by Jackson Gay, that artfully depicts the story of one family’s struggles to establish the public pool system in the Kansas city. The multi-decade story as well as the accompanying style is narrated in a lyrical manner with humor and stunning performance. An engaging piece, it offers a stimulating perspectives on this crucial topic.