Roses to Road Apples
Director Mark Wing-Davey is performing a series of "rot experiments" at Berkeley Rep in preparation for the opening of The Beaux' Stratagem on Sept. 13. For this Restoration period play, one of the first to be set outside London, Wing-Davey hopes to re-create the aromas of life on merry old England's highways. "Without giving away too much," spokesman Richard Griffoul says, "we've been sending production assistants to a number of stables. We tell them, 'This is what you went to Yale for.' " The concern is not that the smells of the day can't be reproduced, but rather that they can't be sustained -- which may mean regular trips to the stables. "Mark isn't trying to orchestrate a gross-out; he's trying to capture the richness of an agricultural society," Griffoul assures. Berkeley's environmentally sensitive can take heart -- it's all natural.
Young, Queer, and Gifted
DramaDIVAS, an ongoing writing and performance workshop for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth, is presenting "The Life of a DIVA," original new works by the group (see Stage Listings for details). Having had the honor of sitting in on a Saturday morning meeting, I can say that these remarkably sophisticated young folks are quite insightful about the world at large and serious about their roles as artists. Directed by award-winning playwright CherriŽ Moraga, the members (who range in age from teens to early 20s) undertake writing and improv exercises in creating their mostly collaborative playlets. Their guest teachers have included Dorothy Allison and Brian Freeman. Though the weekly workshop serves, in part, as a support group for its members, Moraga makes sure the budding artists understand the difference between therapy and art -- i.e., just because it's autobiographical doesn't mean an audience necessarily wants to hear about it. (It'd be nice if some of our adult solo performers could fathom that one.) The kids are brave and savvy and have a lot to say. Check them out at Brava! Studio.
To follow up on ACT's out-of-town casting: Sources say that powers that be tried hustling John Turturro and ACT alumna Winona Ryder for roles in the January production of The Tempest. Casting director Meryl Shaw wouldn't confirm or deny the rumor about Ryder, but one thing's for sure: Turturro's wife, Katharine Borowitz, will appear in the fall production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. It is said that Turturro declined The Tempest offer because the couple would have spent too much time apart in non-overlapping shows. Film actor David Strathairn will still play Prospero in The Tempest, however.