Snakes and Lovers

19 November, 2012 Theater No comments
Snakes and Lovers

It’s interesting that The White Snake comes to Berkeley Rep hot on the heels of this summer’s big stink over the casting of The Nightingale at La Jolla Playhouse, the latest musical from the Spring Awakening team of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. Based on a Hans Christian Andersen story set in ancient China, the latter show was criticized for having hardly any Asians in the cast, with the emperor of China played by a white guy. Like that show, writer/director Mary Zimmerman’s latest is set in ancient China and—like most of her productions—features a multiethnic cast, albeit one with more Asian actors than the La Jolla show, especially in the lead roles.

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The Empower Ring

The Empower Ring

The two world premieres opening and closing last week at Berkeley Repertory Theatre  turn out to be near-perfect companion pieces to each other. On the older, smaller Thrust Stage, Dael Orlandersmith’s solo show Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men, which closed Sunday, offered a series of grim portraits of abused young boys and the men they become. Opening last Friday next door on the spacious Roda Stage was the latest play by Eve Ensler, author of the ubiquitous Vagina Monologues.  This one, Emotional Creature, is an ensemble piece for six young women exploring the plight of teenage girls all over the world, from American girls desperate to fit in with the in crowd to African girls taken as sex slaves by soldiers in the Congo, to girls making American consumer products in Chinese sweat shops.  It’s an odd mix of powerful, gut-wrenching monologues and peppy inspirational songs like something out of Up with People or a children’s TV program.

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