Becky Nurse of Salem
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Anne Kauffman
Main Season · Peet’s Theatre
December 12, 2019–January 26, 2020
Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus one 15-minute intermission
A world premiere by MacArthur “Genius” Grant winner Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play); Eurydice), Becky Nurse of Salem is an offbeat dark comedy that follows a woman coming to terms with her family’s legacy and finding her voice in our “lock her up” era.
Becky Nurse is an outspoken, sharp-witted tour guide at the Salem Museum of Witchcraft who’s just trying to get by in post-Obama America. She’s also the descendant of Rebecca Nurse, who was infamously executed for witchcraft in 1692—but things have changed for women since then…haven’t they? After losing her job for calling out The Crucible in front of schoolkids, Becky visits a local witch for help. One spell leads to another, and then everything really goes off the rails.
Becky Nurse of Salem was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and developed in The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work.
Developed with the support of New York Stage and Film & Vassar’s Powerhouse Season, Summer 2019.
Sarah Ruhl · Playwright
Anne Kauffman · Director
Louisa Thompson · Scenic Design
Meg Neville · Costume Design
Russell H. Champa · Lighting Design
Mikaal Sulaiman · Sound Design
Daniel Kluger · Music
Madeleine Oldham · Dramaturg
Amy Potozkin · Casting
Telsey + Company · Casting
Michael Suenkel · Production Stage Manager
Sofie Miller · Assistant Stage Manager
Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Consultant
Maya Herbsman · Intimacy Consultant
Valerie & Michael Nelson of Magical Moonshine Theatre · Puppetry Consultants
William Cantler · Casting
Karyn Casl · Casting
Owen Campbell · Stan
Rod Gnapp · Shape Shifter
Naian González Norvind · Gail
Ruibo Qian · Witch
Pamela Reed · Becky Nurse
Adrian Roberts · Bob
Elissa Beth Stebbins · Shelby
The witchcraft is real in Becky Nurse of Salem…which offers a mischievous, sprightly alternative narrative to the patriarchal one handed down by American history books, by Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, by the way men still talk about and treat women. The show, directed by Anne Kauffman, might send you out of Berkeley Rep ready to summon your own coven, cast your own spells or simply find your own power outside what society allots you. For that invigorating feeling, we can thank the one-of-a-kind voice and vision of [Sarah] Ruhl. She writes with sweeping imagination and puckish glee, yet at a twinkly remove, like a fairy godmother who bops you on the head with a wand then shuffles away, chuckling. Kauffman’s direction makes everything in Becky’s Salem wield totemic power. This production’s real super power is its lead character and actor. [Pamela] Reed’s Becky is the kind of role women don’t often get to play. She’s a big talker, and the world keeps letting her bungle her way through it and forgiving her, loving her anyway, for the pleasure of hearing what she comes up with next. She gets to have sexual desire, be sexually desired and have a charged, breathless make-out scene even though, god forbid, she’s a grandma. It’s a bewitching performance.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Bracing and beguiling…A wildly ambitious denunciation of The Crucible, with its sexualization of women and girls, Becky Nurse of Salem calls out the way women are taken to task for the ills of the world. Ruhl’s shimmering insights gives this new work some truly bewitching moments. The play really comes to life in the witch’s parlor as Becky risks it all for a scrap of hope and happiness.”
Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
Magic abounds in Berkeley Rep’s world premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Becky Nurse of Salem…in the bravura performance of Pamela Reed in the starring role and the delicious direction of Anne Kauffman. Pamela Reed drives the production with her flawless performance…Becky Nurse of Salem has plenty to say, plenty to see and one of the finest acting performances of the year.”
Sarah Ruhl rules! The MacArthur Fellowship ‘genius’ award winner’s latest play, a world premiere, and her sixth at Berkeley Rep, is a thoroughly captivating, charming and ultimately satisfying quirky comedy that ponders the Salem witch trials and much more.”
Official trailer: Becky Nurse of Salem
Get a sneak peek at Sarah Ruhl’s new dark comedy about the legacy of the Salem witch trails, directed by Anne Kauffman and starring Pamela Reed.
REPISODES: The Berkeley Rep Podcast presents a series of conversations with artists and experts around the shows in Johanna Pfaelzer’s inaugural season. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud to keep up with the whole series.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
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