The Madwoman in the Volvo
By Sandra Tsing Loh
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Special Presentation · Peet’s Theatre
December 13, 2016–January 15, 2017
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
NPR personality and best-selling memoirist Sandra Tsing Loh takes the driver’s seat and slams the engine into overdrive in her hilarious, enlightening, and totally candid road trip through the triple M’s—middle-age, menopause, and motherhood. Joined onstage by noted actors Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt, who portray everyone from her BFFs to her ex-husband, lover, therapist, daughters, and more, Loh recounts her tumultuous journey that starts with a spontaneous trip to Burning Man. The LA Times declares The Madwoman in the Volvo “is bracing in its witty sociological commentary and its refusal to accept clichéd notions of biology as destiny.”
The Madwoman in the Volvo includes the use of an herbal cigarette and haze 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.
Cast and creative team
Sandra Tsing Loh · Sandra / Playwright
Sandra Tsing Loh is a writer/performer whose solo theatre shows include Aliens in America and Bad Sex with Bud Kemp (both off Broadway at Second Stage Theatre), Sugar Plum Fairy (Geffen Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre), I Worry (Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville), and The Bitch Is Back (Broad Stage). Her bestselling New York Times Notable Book Mother on Fire was inspired by her hit solo show in 2005, during which Variety named her one of America’s 50 most influential comedians. Her memoir The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones was selected as one of 2014’s New York Times’ 100 Notable Books, and was inspired by her Best American Essay in the Atlantic Monthly, for which she is a contributing editor. After development workshops with Sundance Theatre Lab and the Ojai Playwrights Conference, the dramatic adaptation of Madwoman received its world premiere at South Coast Repertory in January of 2016, and ran subsequently at the Pasadena Playhouse in June. The book has since been optioned by Paramount Television. Sandra has been a regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition, and on PRI’s This American Life and Marketplace; her weekly segment The Loh Life is heard on KPCC, and syndicated radio minute The Loh Down on Science is heard weekly by 4 million people over 150 public radio stations. Sandra is an adjunct professor at UC Irvine in drama and science communication. She is thrilled to be in Berkeley!
Caroline Aaron · Actor A
Caroline made her Broadway debut in Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and later appeared in the film. She then went on to star on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh, Social Security, I Hate Hamlet, and most recently in Woody Allen’s Honeymoon Hotel. Caroline worked extensively with the late director Mike Nichols, first on Broadway and then in film with Working Girl, Primary Colors, and What Planet Are You From? Additionally she has been a staple in other iconic works, including Woody Allen’s films Crimes and Misdemeanors, Alice, Bullets over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, and Deconstructing Harry. She is also a familiar face in Nora Ephron’s work, having appeared in her films Sleepless in Seattle, This Is My Life, Lucky Numbers, and the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Theatre credits also include Lincoln Center’s award-winning play A Kid Like Jake, and the West Coast premiere of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. Other film credits include starring roles in Golden Globe-nominated Beyond the Sea, the cult favorite Edward Scissorhands, Bounce, Hello My Name Is Doris alongside Sally Fields, and the blockbuster hits 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street, among many others. Most recent television credits include recurring roles in the award-winning series Episodes and Transparent, and the CBS series Life in Pieces. Among her numerous honors are Helen Hayes and Drama-Logue awards (The Sisters Rosensweig) and a Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress (Bounce). She has also starred in The Madwoman in the Volvo productions at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA and at the Pasadena Playhouse. Caroline is also a published author, and her original play Such a Pretty Face is due to be produced this fall.
Shannon Holt · Actor B
Shannon is thrilled to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. She recently performed in LA Theaterworks national tour of Judgment In Nuremberg. Her regional credits include South Coast Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, Trinity Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, the Public Theater, and Actors Theatre Of Louisville. In Los Angeles, she has worked on many stages including Evidence Room, Rogue Machine Theatre, The Theatre @ Boston Court, the Actors’ Gang, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, the Matrix Theatre Company, Los Angeles Theatre Center, East-West Players, and the Antaeus Theater Company, where she is a company member. She has received nominations and awards from LA Weekly, Stage Raw, LA Stage Alliance Ovations, and Backstage West. Her film and television credits include The Marc Pease Experience, Elsewhere, The Suite Life on Deck, Seinfeld, That ‘70s Show, and ER, among others.
Lisa Peterson · Director
Lisa is a two-time Obie Award-winning writer and director who is currently the associate director at Berkeley Rep. Previous projects at the Theatre include It Can’t Happen Here (2016); An Iliad (2012), which Lisa cowrote with Denis O’Hare, and which won Obie and Lortel Awards for Best Solo Performance; Mother Courage (2006); The Fall (2001); and Antony & Cleopatra (1999). For California Shakespeare Theater, Lisa directed You Never Can Tell, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Other recent West Coast productions include Hamlet, Henry IV Pt 2, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Chavez Ravine (Ovation Award for Best Production), Palestine New Mexico, Electricidad, Water & Power, The House of Bernarda Alba, Body of Bourne, and Mules (Mark Taper Forum). She has directed world premieres by many major American writers, including Tony Kushner, Beth Henley, Donald Margulies, Jose Rivera, Ellen McLaughlin, Mac Wellman, Marlane Meyer, Polly Pen, Naomi Wallace, and many others. She regularly works at the Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Sundance Theatre Lab. Lisa and Denis are working on a new play about faith and the Bible called The Good Book, and a commission for the McCarter Theatre titled The Song of Rome. Lisa is also writing a new music-theatre piece with Todd Almond called The Idea of Order, co-commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, and Seattle Rep.
Rachel Hauck · Scenic Design
Rachel’s Berkeley Rep credits include It Can’t Happen Here, An Iliad, Mother Courage, Antony & Cleopatra, and Valley Song. Her recent New York credits include Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop); Tiny Beautiful Things and Dry Powder (the Public Theater); All the Ways to Say I Love You (MCC Theater); Antlia Pneumatica, Grand Concourse, Patron Saint of Sea Monsters, The Call, and Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons); Night Is a Room, Our Lady of Kibeho, and And I And Silence (Signature Theatre); Bright Half Life (Women’s Project Theater); To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre); Hamlet in Bed and Stay (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); An Iliad (NYTW, McCarter Theatre, tour); Slowgirl (LCT3); Harper Regan and Bluebird (Atlantic Theater Company); This Wide Night (Naked Angels); and Orange, Hat & Grace (Soho Rep). Her recent regional work includes Poster Boy and And No More Shall We Part (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Animal (Studio Theater in DC); The Good Book (Court Theatre); Roe, Into the Woods, The Music Man, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Annenberg); and Clybourne Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (the Guthrie Theater), as well as work at the O’Neill Playwright’s Conference from 2005 to 2014. Rachel received the Princess Grace Award, Lilly Awards, and an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.
Candice Cain · Costume Design
Candice returns to Berkeley Rep after designing The Beauty Queen of Leenane. She designed The Madwoman in the Volvo for South Coast Repertory and Pasadena Playhouse. She has been the costume director for Center Theatre Group for 23 years and has designed the following shows for the Mark Taper and Kirk Douglas Theatre: different words for the same thing, Nightingale with Lynn Redgrave, Stuff Happens, Living Out, Stones in His Pockets, The Body of Bourne, Blade to the Heat, Mules, Neat, Dealer’s Choice, Tongue of a Bird (Intiman Theatre and the Public Theater), Enigma Variations with Donald Sutherland (Toronto and London), and The Affliction of Glory (a coproduction with the J. Paul Getty Museum), among others. For South Coast Repertory, Candice designed The Injured Party, Shipwrecked, A Feminine Ending, The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin, Dinner with Friends, Collected Stories, and Three Days of Rain (and Manhattan Theatre Club). Other regional credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Virginia Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Stage Company, Empty Space Theatre, and Evidence Room, and she also designed Orphans with Al Pacino at Greenway Court.
Geoff Korf · Lighting Design
Geoff is a member of the ensemble of Cornerstone Theater Company, where he has designed nearly 40 productions over the past 24 years. He also designed lighting for the South Coast Repertory productions of Sight Unseen, Taking Steps, Bach at Leipzig, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Lovers and Executioners, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Dazzle, Making It, Hold Please, Art, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Amy’s View, Two Sisters and a Piano, The Summer Moon, and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. His designs also have appeared in productions at La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Long Beach Opera, San Francisco Opera, Goodman Theatre, Trinity Repertory, Yale Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Guthrie Theater, and on Broadway. Geoff is a graduate of California State University, Chico, and the Yale School of Drama. He also serves as the head of design at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Lindsay Jones · Original Music and Sound Design
Lindsay’s Broadway credits include A Time to Kill and Bronx Bombers. His off-Broadway credits include Privacy, Dry Powder, and Barbecue (the Public Theater), Bootycandy (Playwrights Horizons), Mr. Joy (LCT3), Top Secret (New York Theatre Workshop), Rx (Primary Stages), and many others. His regional credits include the Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Alliance Theatre, Goodman Theatre, the Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, and many others. His international credits include work as Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Canada), Royal Shakespeare Company (England), as well as productions in Ireland, Austria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Scotland. Lindsay received seven Joseph Jefferson Awards and 24 nominations, two Ovation Awards and three nominations, an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, three Drama Desk Award nominations, two Helen Hayes nominations, two Barrymore nominations, as well as many others. Film scoring credits include Magnolia Pictures’ The Brass Teapot and HBO Films’ A Note of Triumph (2006 Academy Award, Best Documentary). Visit lindsayjones.com.
Jerry Patch · Dramaturg
Jerry was affiliated with South Coast Repertory from 1967–2005 and returned in 2014 as literary consultant. He served as dramaturg on nearly 150 new plays developed and seen at SCR including the world premieres of Abundance, Freedomland, Golden Child, Intimate Apparel, Search and Destroy, Three Days of Rain, and Wit. His dramatic writing has been produced at South Coast Repertory and other theatres, and on television. He was project director of SCR’s Pacific Playwrights Festival from its inception in 1998 through 2005 and, for seven years, served as artistic director of the theatre program of Sundance Institute. As a professor of theatre and film, he taught at Long Beach City College, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, CSU Long Beach, and other institutions. He was consulting dramaturg for New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company for nearly a decade and left SCR to become resident artistic director for the Old Globe in San Diego. He is now artistic development consultant following seven seasons as director of artistic development for Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.
Marcy Victoria Reed · Stage Manager
Marcy, a stage and events manager, is delighted to join Berkeley Rep for the first time. Credits include TheatreWorks Silicon Valley (Sweeney Todd, the Gala presentations of Emma and Maria), San Jose Repertory Theatre (Crime and Punishment, Big Meal), the Old Globe (Fiasco’s adaptation of Into the Woods), La Jolla Playhouse (Sleeping Beauty Wakes, An Iliad), McCarter Theatre Center (Into the Woods, Are You There McPhee?, The Convert, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, A Christmas Carol, The How and the Why, An Iliad), New York Theatre Workshop (An Iliad, Belleville), Milwaukee Repertory Theater (The Whipping Man), Transcendence Theatre Company (Broadway Under the Stars 2013/2014), and 24 Hour Musicals on Broadway 2010–2013. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, holds a BFA in Stage Management, and is a proud former McCarter Theater Stage Management Intern.
S.L.F.M. INC. / Frier McCollister · Associate Producer
S.L.F.M. INC. is a management and production company based in Los Angeles, CA. Frier McCollister is a principal managing partner of S.L.F.M. INC. and is an independent theatrical producer and general manager based in Los Angeles. He produced the West Coast premieres of Sandra Tsing Loh’s first two solo shows, Aliens in America and Bad Sex with Bud Kemp, both at the Tiffany Theatre, and the world premieres of her subsequent four shows: I Worry, Sugar Plum Fairy (in association with Seattle Repertory Theatre), Mother on Fire, and The Bitch Is Back (in association with the Broad Stage). He is also currently the managing director of LDOS MEDIA LAB, INC. the nonprofit production company that produces and distributes The Loh Down on Science.
The actors and stage manager are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Funny and, more important, warm and earnest…The show triumphs through sheer honesty and intimacy…It’s a true treat for audiences that [Sandra Tsing Loh] and director Lisa Peterson tweaked the format, creating a kind of solo show with two helpers. Playing a variety of small parts, Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt make delectable contributions.”
San Francisco Chronicle
A polished gem. The Madwoman in the Volvo features Loh onstage with two other performers, the wonderful Caroline Aaron (whose husky Bea Arthuresque voice finds hilarity in throwaway lines) and the game Shannon Holt, both of whom play themselves along with a parade of exaggeratedly sketched comic figures…Loh, a rebel in a black leather jacket with a feminist cause, combines the bouncy presence of a solo performance artist with the vulnerable wildness of a stand-up comic…[The show] is bracing in its witty sociological commentary and its refusal to accept clichéd notions of biology as destiny.”
Los Angeles Times
Witty and lighthearted…[Sandra Tsing Loh] has always turned her foibles into belly laughs, from Aliens in America to Sugar Plum Fairy. Now she’s hit the mother lode of manic laughter with a meandering free fall into the fevers of midlife…Loh has a piercing eye for detail and a flair for self-exposure that makes this confessional show pop.”
Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
Get yourself to Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Peet’s Theatre to see The Madwoman in the Volvo, Sandra Tsing Loh’s disarmingly humorous exploration of her midlife mania…Whether she’s leading the audience in a pre-show Trump frustration scream, tossing Ricola lozenges to coughing audience members or spilling details of her most intimate personal life, Loh has a monologist’s bravery.”
Official trailer: The Madwoman in the Volvo
Get a sneak peek at Sandra Tsing Loh’s comic romp through a midlife crisis.
Sandra Tsing Loh’s lively TEDx Talk touches on the themes of her play The Madwoman in the Volvo.
Teaser: The Madwoman in the Volvo
Get a glimpse of Sandra Tsing Loh’s hilarious and candid road trip through middle-age.
Photos by Debora Robinson
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