By Julia Cho
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Co-production with Long Wharf Theatre
Limited Season · Peet’s Theatre
February 22–March 25, 2018
Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission
After enthralling audiences with Aubergine, Julia Cho returns to Berkeley Rep with a searing and touching play that tunes into the plight of “the other” in a country steeped in mistrust and intolerance. Hiding in the back of the classroom, Dennis’ sullen presence has his fellow students and professors on edge. But during an office visit, his writing instructor seeks to break through Dennis’ silence and earn his trust—with shocking results. A deeply personal story of empathy and redemption, Office Hour explores otherness and paranoia while revealing our essential human need for connection.
Julia Cho · Playwright
Lisa Peterson · Director
Matt Saunders · Scenic Design
Maggie Morgan · Costume Design
Scott Zielinski · Lighting Design
Robert Kaplowitz · Original Music / Sound Design
Thomas Schall · Fight Director
Amy Potozkin · Casting
Calleri Casting · Casting
Chris Waters · Stage Manager
Laura Humphrey · Assistant Director
James McGregor · Production Assistant
Daniel Chung · Dennis
Jackie Chung · Gina
Jeremy Kahn · David
Kerry Warren · Genevieve
Captivating…Masterful…A teacher, both emboldened and terrified, is attempting to cut through the noise of life in America at this moment—the screaming debates, the toxic politics, the horrifying headlines—and connect with a troubled student who needs help before he does himself or others harm. [Julia] Cho approaches the fraught issue of gun violence in our nation’s schools not with a screed or a polemic but with a writer’s deep and messy sense of exploration and revelation. The play itself operates under the conceit that it is a work-in-progress that attempts to make a connection between Gina and Dennis. As Gina fumbles her way through meetings with Dennis, Cho takes scenes to extreme places or corny places or places of hollow inspiration, and then she wipes the stage with a blackout and starts over. She’s allowing this important conversation to unfold in multiple drafts…Director Lisa Peterson, Berkeley Rep’s associate director, keeps what is essentially a two-person drama as tense and intriguing as possible, with welcome moments of humor and one especially dazzling sequence involving fantasy, violence, and the kind of deft stagecraft you don’t expect in such a straightforward play…This Office Hour finds Cho at her provocative best, searching for compassion and seriously wondering if that’s enough to make a difference.”
Chilling…[Office Hour] speaks eloquently to the nation’s collective sense of trauma…[Julia] Cho (The Language Archive) lets the often bloodcurdling narrative unfurl in jagged shards, letting us puzzle through alternative scenarios of what happens to this troubled student, what becomes of the firepower that might be carrying in his backpack and whether Gina will make it out of this alive…Both key actors find shades in the spiral of emotions.”
Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
[Julia Cho] has a keen ear for dialogue, and [Lisa] Peterson keeps the pacing brisk and tight. Both Chungs—Jackie Chung as the determined, tightly wound Gina, and Daniel Chung as the angry, damaged Dennis—play their roles to the hilt, and Jeremy Kahn (David) and Kerry Warren (Genevieve) are spot-on as Gina’s frightened colleagues.”
San Francisco Examiner
Office Hour: Teens have the mic
Members of our Teen Council talk about Julia Cho’s play, gun violence, and how art may make a difference.
Official trailer: Office Hour
See why critics call Julia Cho’s play “masterful” and “chilling!”
Behind the scenes: Fight Director Thomas Schall
The fight director for Julia Cho’s Office Hour shares his love of the play—and a few things about how onstage firearms work.
Behind the scenes: Meet and greet
Go behind the scenes at our meet and greet for Julia Cho’s Office Hour, and hear more about the play from director Lisa Peterson.
Behind the scenes: Director Lisa Peterson
The director of Julia Cho’s Office Hour unveils more about this surprising and uncompromising drama.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
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Meet our community partners working to prevent gun violence
In response to Office Hour, Berkeley Rep partnered with three locally based organizations, out of the many who do this work locally and nationally to prevent gun violence. Here’s some information on who they are and how you can support their work.
Berkeley Media Studies Group
Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) does research on how mass media, especially the news, affects how people understand topics like violence and what to do about it. BMSG believes violence is a preventable public health problem, but many people don’t know that. That’s partly because much of what we know about violence—beyond what we experience personally—comes to us through the filter of the news, and the news tends to focus on graphic details, crime, and punishment. If we want people to see that violence doesn’t have to happen, an important step is making prevention part of the media narrative. BMSG works with advocates and community leaders to do just that, in California and beyond. To learn more about BMSG’s research and strategic communication trainings please visit bmsg.org.
Hope and Heal Fund
Hope and Heal Fund brings together a diverse group of funders around a common goal: to stop the gun violence epidemic in California. The Fund invests in research, strategic communication, and community-based programs to address the gun violence epidemic. They are committed to addressing all forms of gun violence, including homicide, suicide, and domestic violence, and the socioeconomic conditions that make gun violence more likely. They’re also working to support vulnerable and overlooked communities that are most directly affected by gun violence. Find out more at hopeandhealfund.org.
The Oakland/Alameda County Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Chapter
The Oakland/Alameda County Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Chapter is one of 28 Brady Campaign Chapters in California that educate and mobilize their communities to advocate for sensible and responsible gun laws and public policies at the local, state, and national levels. You can support their work in several ways: become a member of the Chapter, receive their email newsletter with updates on issues and activities, form a new Chapter if there is not one near you, or make a donation to the Brady Campaign. Find out more at bradycampaign.org.
The Brady Campaign also supports Speak for Safety, a campaign to raise awareness of the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). The GVRO is a historic, first-of-its-kind tool in California for temporarily removing firearms from loved ones in crisis. Find out more at speakforsafety.org.