East Bay Arts & Entertainment

bayareatheatreEast Bay Entertainment and Arts are equal to anything reachable by bridge or BART, as some of the Bay Area’s greatest theatres will attest to. If you’re interested in intimate looks at some of Shakespeare’s finest dramas, world premieres by respected writers or new favorites in comfortable settings, the East Bay E & A scene has something for you. With theatres both big and small, young and old, you’ll find something entertaining in the East Bay. For a look at the finest in East Bay Arts and Entertainment, visit the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The venue, located on Addison Street in Berkeley offers bold programming, with an emphasis on innovation and artistic standards. With plays diverse enough to attract drama buffs interested in East Bay E & A ranging from modern to educational, queer to children’s theatre, this ambitious, forty year old playhouse has something for everyone’s entertainment and arts options. Last year’s season featured Tony Award Winner Mary Zimmerman’s take on the Persian classic Arabian Nights, the electric world premiere of In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), detailing Victorian methods of stress management and the importance of intimacy, and Carrie Fisher’s solo show, about drinking, divorce and waking up with a dead friend in your bed, Wishful Drinking. Subscribers to the 2009-2010 season have great things to look forward to as well from the East Bay entertainment and arts center. The world premiere of American Idiot, Green Day’s rock musical will be playing from September 4 – October 11, 2009 at the Roda Theatre, directed by Michael Mayer, winner of the Tony Award for Spring Awakening. Premiering in their East Bay hometown, American Idiot is prepared for audience members both deep and shallow: shallow, in that you can bob your head along to melodies you’ll remember from the band’s last two albums, and deep, in that if you listen close enough, you’ll follow the flight of Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and Whatsername as they fight to break free from conformity. This show, along with Coming Home, from January 15 to February 28, 2010, by Athol Fugard, who Time magazine referred to as “the greatest active playwright in the English-speaking world,” and Aurelia’s Oratorio, from December 4, 2009 to January 24, 2010, an acrobatic journey through a surreal world of chamber music and gypsy jazz, are only a few of the fabulous productions that this East Bay company has to offer the arts and entertainment world this season. With a season that runs from September to July, college students, Berkeley alumni and seniors alike are in luck with the broad range of discounts that this East Bay entertainment and arts venue has to offer them. The Berkeley Repertory Theatre sells half-price advance tickets for audience members under 30 years old, gives a $5 discount on tickets to all performances except Saturday evenings to California Alumni Association members, and a $10 discount to students and seniors in sections A and B one hour before each show. If you’re looking for a more intimate answer to East Bay entertainment and arts, try a production by the Shotgun Players. Emphasizing theatre that is bold, relevant and affordable, it’s difficult to find a theatre group that matches the Shotgun Players’ caliber. A concession stand selling Irish coffee, foccaccia bread and homemade cookies aside, this company, which actually began in the basement of a pizza parlor, is steadily on the rise in the hearts of East Bay E & A buffs. Emphasizing community support, any patron lucky enough to run into Artistic Director Patrick Dooley will be pleased to join the Shotgun family. With a focus on the lesser-known plays of well-known playwrights and new work from promising writers, the Shotgun Players have staged King Lear, The Jungle Book, Romeo and Juliet and Skylight, written by the 2008 Academy Award Nominee for Best Screenplay (The Reader). This mixed bag of old favorites and world premieres continues with The Three Penny Opera, Bertolt Brecht’s “opera for beggars,” which follows the adventures of Peachum, the king of London’s beggars, as his daughter becomes involved with Mack the Knife. This groundbreaking story will play at the Ashby Theatre from December 2, 2009-January 17, 2010. Those looking for East Bay arts and entertainment who are concerned about their carbon footprint will be pleased to know that the Ashby Theatre is the only theatre in the world that is 100% solar powered. If you’re more interested in the contents of your wallet, the Shotgun Players put on a free show every year, and every production has at least one “pay-what-you-can” performance. If you’re looking for an East Bay E & A experience outside of Berkeley, head to the north. Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts produces regional plays and musicals, as well as Broadway shows. The three-story building, with a lovely view of the Walnut Creek downtown area, may not boast the same status as the Berkeley Repertory, but has cheap and easy parking in their garage and floor to ceiling windows. The size of the building allows for three simultaneous events, so the Lesher Center for the Arts is always busy. The past season at the Lesher Center for the Arts, the East Bay E & A showcase, has seen productions of Evita, The Producers, Hello, Dolly, a Post Secret campaign and a Speaker series featuring animal activist Jeff Corwin, musician Naomi Judd and world traveler and Oprah correspondent Lisa Ling. Current subscribers can look forward to the Festival Opera’s performances of Turandot from July 11-19, 2009, and Faust, from August 8-16, 2009. For the most family-friendly East Bay Entertainment and Arts, visit the Pittsburg Community Theatre on San Juan Drive, with a season running through the summer for the best in drama, musicals, comedy and children’s shows. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the theatre, and with tickets that cost as much as a trip to the movie theater, visit the Creative Arts Building for tickets to the East Bay theatre group that brought you An Inspector Calls, I Hate Hamlet and Seussical the Musical.