Extended: An Octoroon

An Octoroon extended An Octoroon: watch video Join us for a discussion after each performance The cast of An Octoroon

An Octoroon

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Eric Ting
Limited Season · Peet’s Theatre
June 23–July 29, 2017
West Coast premiere

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, plus one 15-minute intermission

Extended through July 29

Playwright and 2016 MacArthur Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins won the Obie Award for his radical, incendiary, and subversively funny riff on Dion Boucicault’s once-popular 1859 mustache-twirling melodrama. Judge Peyton is dead, and his plantation Terrebonne is on the brink of foreclosure. George, the high-minded heir apparent, falls for the lovely Zoe, who’s one-eighth black. But the bigoted belle Dora has eyes for George, and the dastardly overseer M’Closky plots to keep Zoe and Terrebonne for himself. A spectacular collision of the antebellum South and 21st-century cultural politics, An Octoroon is “This decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America today,” says the New York Times.

Join us after all performances of An Octoroon (excluding June 30 and July 29) for a post-show discussion with Berkeley Rep staff, docents, and artists.

An Octoroon includes haze and smoke effects. Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.


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An Octoroon calendar

Creative team

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Branden Jacobs-Jenkins · Playwright

Branden is a Brooklyn-based playwright whose credits include War (Lincoln Center/LCT3), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award), and Neighbors (the Public Theater). He is a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and is under commissions from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, MTC/Sloan, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His recent honors include the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. In addition to holding an MA in Performance Studies from NYU, Branden is also a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School. He currently teaches in the Hunter College Playwriting MFA Program, where he is a Master-Artist-in-Residence.

Eric Ting · Director

Eric is an Obie Award-winning director and was appointed artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater in November of 2015. Deeply committed throughout his career to the development of new and diverse voices for the theatre, Eric has directed plays (many of them world premieres) by Sam Hunter, Aditi Kapil, Kimber Lee, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Laura Jacqmin, Kenneth Lin, Kristoffer Diaz, Anna Deavere Smith, and others. His work has been seen at Manhattan Theatre Club, Soho Rep, the Public Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, Williamstown Theatre Festival, A.R.T., Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Hartford Stage, BAM Next Wave, Cincinnati Playhouse, and the Alliance Theatre; as well as internationally, including Singapore, France, Canada, Romania, Hungary, and Bali. Upcoming: Octavia E. Bulter’s Parable of the Sower with Toshi Reagon (world premiere, international tour), Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey (Cal Shakes), and Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap (world premiere, Denver Center/Seattle Rep). Eric is a proud member of the SDC board.

Arnulfo Maldonado · Scenic Design

Arnulfo is a New York City-based set and costume designer. This is his Berkeley Rep debut. Notable New York credits include Bull in a China Shop (Lincoln Center Theater), Twelfth Night (the Public Theater), Kingdom Come (Roundabout Theatre Company), Duat and generations (Soho Rep), Caught (the Play Company), Men on Boats and Iowa (Playwrights Horizons), and Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company). Regional credits include Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Women of Padilla (Two River Theater), Hillary and Clinton (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Macbeth (the Old Globe), Evita (Olney Theatre Center), and As You Like It (Center Stage). He also worked on the BAM Next Wave and international tour of The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir. Arnulfo is a Clubbed Thumb affiliated artist, a recipient of a Princess Grace Fabergé Theater Award, and serves as a resident scenic designer at the National Playwrights Conference. He received his MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Visit arnulfomaldonado.com.

Montana Blanco · Costume Design

Montana is making his Berkeley Rep debut. His off-Broadway credits include The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theatre, Lucille Lortel nomination); Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theater); Ghost Light and War (Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3); Red Speedo and Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop); Hamlet, Teenage Dick, and Pretty Hunger (the Public Theater); O, Earth (the Foundry Theatre); and Orange Julius (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater). Regional credits include The Bluest Eye (the Guthrie Theater), War (Yale Repertory Theatre), and Side Show and Our Country’s Good (Brown/Trinity Repertory Company). Upcoming: In the Blood (Signature Theatre), The Last Match (Roundabout Theatre Company), Measure for Measure (Santa Cruz Shakespeare/California Shakespeare Theater), Lookingglass Alice (Center Stage), The Bacchae (Princeton University), and Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (Berkeley Rep). Training: Yale School of Drama, MFA; Brown University, MA; Oberlin College, BA; Oberlin Conservatory of Music, BM. Visit montanaleviblanco.com.

Jiyoun Chang · Lighting Design

Jiyoun last worked at Berkeley Rep on Aubergine. Other design credits include Sojourners and Her Portmanteau (New York Theatre Workshop), The Parchman Hour (the Guthrie Theater), tokyo fish story (the Old Globe), Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Underground), brownsville song (Lincoln Center Theater LCT3), Goldberg’s Variations (BAM Next Wave 2013), The World is Round (Obie Award Special Citation in Lighting Design), The Unfortunates and Troilus and Cressida (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Dance and the Railroad (Signature Theatre), T. 1912 and Peter and the Wolf (Guggenheim Museum), and Light Within (Carnegie Hall). Jiyoun received an MFA in Design from Yale School of Drama. Visit jiyounchang.com.

Jake Rodriguez · Sound Design

Jake is a sound designer and composer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who last worked with Berkeley Rep on X’s and O’s: A Football Love Story. His regional credits include the world premieres of Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright; Girlfriend; and Passing Strange at Berkeley Rep; The Christians at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Playwrights Horizons, and the Mark Taper Forum; the world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns at American Conservatory Theater and Theatre Calgary; Hamlet (2012) at California Shakespeare Theater; the world premieres of Bruja and Oedipus el Rey at Magic Theatre; and The Events at Shotgun Players. Jake is the recipient of a 2004 Princess Grace Award.

Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting

This is Amy’s 27th season at Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. Amy taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and was nominated for Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures and One Man, Two Guvnors.

Calleri Casting · Casting

Calleri Casting’s Broadway credits include Fool for Love, Hughie, The Elephant Man (also West End), Hedwig and The Angry Inch, The Visit, Of Mice and Men, Venus in Fur, Living on Love, 33 Variations, A Raisin in the Sun, Chicago, and James Joyce’s The Dead. Select off-Broadway credits include Buyer & Cellar, Murder for Two, All in the Timing, Passion, Lobby Hero, Fuerza Bruta, and Silence! The Musical. Calleri Casting has cast for Classic Stage Company, Long Wharf Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, the Flea, Keen Company, the Playwrights Realm, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Humana Festival/Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, City Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Playwrights Horizons (10 seasons). TV credits include The Path for Hulu, Army Wives, Lipstick Jungle, Monk, Hope & Faith, and Ed. Calleri Casting’s many film credits include Mike Cahill’s Sundance winners Another Earth and I Origins. Calleri received 13 Artios Awards for Outstanding Casting Achievement, and is a member of CSA. Visit callericasting.com.

Leslie M. Radin* · Stage Manager

Leslie is very pleased to be back at Berkeley Rep after most recently stage managing Aubergine, Head of Passes, and Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. She started at Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern in 2003 and has also worked at American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, Center Repertory Company, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare. She has traveled with Berkeley Rep productions to the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the New Victory Theater in New York. Her favorite past productions include Aubergine, Wittenberg, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Passing Strange, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Secret in the Wings.

Additional credits

Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Director
Sarina Renteria · Lighting Design Assistant
Lisa Quoresimo · Music Director

Cast

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Afi Bijou* · Minnie

Afi makes her Berkeley Rep debut in An Octoroon. Her New York credits include Holler If You Hear Me (Broadway), Fela! (Broadway), Once on This Island (original Broadway cast), Holiday Heart (off Broadway), and Bullet for Adolf (off Broadway). Regional credits include The Blood Quilt (Arena Stage) and Good Goods, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, and Breath Boom (Yale Repertory Theatre). Film/TV credits include roles on The Night of, Crime, Fresh, and Finding Fela, among others.

Afi Bijou

Jasmine Bracey* · Dido

Jasmine is thrilled to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. Her regional theatre credits include Animal Farm (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Clybourne Park, WIT, The Little Foxes, O Beautiful, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and Our Town (Resident Ensemble Players); You Can’t Take It with You (the Alley Theatre); As You Like It (the Acting Company); Macando (the Guthrie Theater); and Antony and Cleopatra (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival). Film/television credits include Chicago P.D., Mothers of God, and Rodney. Training: University of Delaware Professional Theatre Training Program, MFA, class of 2011.

Jasmine Bracey

Afua Busia · Grace

Afua is thrilled to be making her debut at Berkeley Rep this summer! She is currently an MFA candidate at American Conservatory Theater. She most recently appeared in ACT’s MFA production of The Good Woman of Setzuan. She also attended American University where she appeared in Cabaret, Talking With, and Measure for Measure. Regional credits include The Little Mermaid (Imagination Stage).

Afua Busia

Lance Gardner* · BJJ / George / M’Closky

Lance last appeared at Berkeley Rep in Yellowjackets. He most recently appeared in The Christians at SF Playhouse. He has performed at California Shakespeare Theater, TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Encore Theatre, Climate Theatre, and more. He is the producer and host of the upcoming podcast Re: TheatRe.

Lance Gardner

Sydney Morton* · Zoe

Sydney is so excited to make her debut at Berkeley Rep. Original Broadway casts include Memphis, Evita, Motown (Florence Ballard), and American Psycho. National tours include Flashdance (Alex) and Jersey Boys (Chicago company). Regional credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Esmeralda, Ogunquit Playhouse), High School Musical (Gabriella, Paper Mill Playhouse), The Muny, and Pittsburgh CLO. Film credits include The Intern, Service to Man, and Love, New York. TV credits include She’s Gotta Have It (Cheryl Overstreet, Netflix), Jessica Jones (Netflix), and The Sound of Music Live (NBC). Training includes a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Sydney also creates online comedy content, which can be found at sydneymorton.com.

Sydney Morton

Ray Porter* · Playwright / Wahnotee / Lafouche

This is Ray’s first appearance at Berkeley Rep. He was with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 18 seasons and last appeared in the Bay Area as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at American Conservatory Theater. Film/TV credits include Sons of Anarchy, The Mentalist, The Closer, Frasier, Justified, Monk, Almost Famous, The Runaways, Argo, and Justice League.

Ray Porter

Lisa Quoresimo · Br’er Rabbit

Lisa is thrilled to be making her debut at Berkeley Rep. Lisa has most recently been seen music directing The Events at Shotgun Players, and playing Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly. She has written and directed several musicals, including Siddhartha the Bright Path (with Emily Klion and Danny Duncan), which have been produced across the country and internationally. She served for many years as the artistic director of the Kairos Theatre in New York City, trained at Circle in the Square, and taught on the faculties of NYU and the Manhattan School of Music. She is currently in the Theatre/Performance Studies Department at UC Davis.

Lisa Quoresimo

Jennifer Regan* · Dora

Jennifer last appeared at Berkeley Rep in Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. New York credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Born Yesterday, and The Lady from Dubuque (Broadway and West End, London) and How I Learned to Drive, Buffalo Gal, and Pig Farm (off Broadway). Regional credits include Twelfth Night (Hartford Stage); Lost in Yonkers, Resurrection Blues, and The Trojan Women (the Old Globe); Edgardo Mine (the Guthrie Theater); The Royal Family (Pittsburgh Public Theater); and A Streetcar Named Desire (Barrington Stage Company). Film/TV work includes recurring and guest roles on The Heart, She Holler; Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter (Adult Swim); Blindspot; Mysteries of Laura; Happyish; Elementary; Law & Order: SVU and CSI; The Humbling; The Winning Season; Ten Stories Tall; and My Dead Boyfriend, among others.

Jennifer Regan

Amir Talai* · Assistant / Pete / Paul

Amir, a San Francisco native, is thrilled to be back where he grew up and began working professionally. His dad even owned Au Coquelet, around the corner from Berkeley Rep. Soon after graduating from Cal, he worked at Berkeley Rep as an understudy and on a school tour. Since leaving San Francisco, he’s earned over 100 film and TV credits, including What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Harold and Kumar 2, and, most recently, The Circle with Tom Hanks. In 2018 he will appear opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Gunther and on the new Fox series LA to Vegas. In addition to acting, Amir is passionate about and active in several social movements, serving on the boards of The Story of Stuff and Healing Justice, and he volunteers to improve representation for actors of color, oppose police violence, and support progressive politicians.

Amir Talai

* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

An Octoroon is a provocation, but it’s a provocation that manages to be spectacularly entertaining and never one that slips so far into didacticism that it forgets to have any fun…It is, in short, a major play, a major statement on the modern state of race in America and how it relates to the history of racial oppression and slavery, and an experience that one shouldn’t count on leaving your head until long after seeing the production at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre…Director Eric Ting’s staging is chock-full of vaudevillian glee, always careful to stress the comedy and leave the social reality of the play up for the audience to consider, and his ensemble cast of nine is absolutely remarkable…Its execution is so bold and so singular that it is not unwarranted to say that there is simply nothing like An Octoroon.”

Theatre Arts Daily

There’s no denying how effective An Octoroon is at not letting anyone off the hook. This is our mess, our misery, our melodrama, our tragedy, our farce. That Jacobs-Jenkins and the entire on-stage and off-stage crew of An Octoroon have made it so powerful, so baffling and so, dare I say it, so entertaining, is nothing short of a modern theatrical wonder.”

Theater Dogs

Exhilarating…One of Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins’s points is that nothing that deals with race in this racially conflicted country can ever be reduced to an easy showbiz formula, whether satirical or uplifting. His ‘Octoroon’ invites us to laugh loudly and easily at how naïve the old stereotypes now seem, until suddenly nothing seems funny at all.”

New York Times

Leaping manThough this production is gorgeously designed, with performances that are crisp, thoughtful and charged with enough potential for anarchy to keep things always a little (or a lot) dangerous, it’s how Jacobs-Jenkins tells his story that most dazzles…It’s a perfect role for [Lance] Gardner, a local treasure whose performances always seem ready to explode into something silly, something dangerous, or both.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ wild and bracing adaptation…never stops detonating bombs in the endless minefield that is race in America…Mustaches twirl and taboos explode in Eric Ting’s audacious staging of this button-pushing melodrama. Slavery is just one of the subjects dissected in this barbed examination of American racial history…The work-shirking Minnie (Afi Bijou) and her industrious friend Dido (Jasmine Bracey) may be supporting characters but their comic flourishes often steal the show. Speaking in an extremely modern vernacular that’s often hilarious, the slaves’ scenes give this play its teeth and its heart…The dangerous and subversive energy of the play’s opening scenes will live long in the imagination.”

Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

So energetic, funny and entertainingly demented, you can’t look away.”

New York Post

Watch now

Official trailer: An Octoroon

A sneak peek at Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ bold, in-your-face award-winning play.

Behind the scenes: Costumes

Designer Montana Blanco reveals some of his costumes for An Octoroon.

Behind the scenes: An Octoroon

Director Eric Ting and select cast members give us the lowdown on bringing Branden Jacobs-Jenkins script to the stage.

Behind the scenes: Jasmine Bracey

Actor Jasmine Bracey gives us an inside look at Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon.

Behind the scenes: Lance Gardner

Actor Lance Gardner gives us an inside look at Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon.

Behind the scenes: Sydney Morton

Actor Sydney Morton gives us an inside look at Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon.

See photos

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Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

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Docent talks and discussions

Pre-show docent talks

Meet us in the Theatre an hour before the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 30-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.

Post-show docent-led discussions

Join your fellow audience members after all matinees and share your thoughts on the show.

Interested in becoming a docent? Click here for details. For more information about Berkeley Rep’s docent program, please email docent@berkeleyrep.org.

Exploring Form: The Anatomy of a Play

What is the interplay between theatrical form and content? How does a play’s structure shape our experience of its story? An Octoroon uses the same dramatic conventions of Dion Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama, The Octoroon, but it also subverts those conventions to explore race in America in contemporary terms. Looking at source material and examples in the play, participants will unpack how Jacobs-Jenkins uses adaptation, melodrama, and meta-theatre as storytelling tools. The class will be taught by Literary Manager Sarah Rose Leonard.

  • Saturday, June 17, 2017 · 5–6:30pm
    Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre

Post-show discussions

Join us after all performances of An Octoroon (excluding June 30 and July 29) for an audience talkback and discussion moderated by Berkeley Rep’s staff, docents, and artists.