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 dark comedy about the legacy of the Salem witch trials
“Once upon a time people thought the devil explained everything. Then a hundred years later they thought sex explained everything. And now? They think statistics explain everything. But numbers don’t explain anything. Numbers didn’t explain the election, did they? Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring that up.”
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.
An important note regarding health and content advisories:
Becky Nurse of Salem includes use of a strobe effect, 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 unsolicited content advisories as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have concerns about content or themes, we are happy to provide details. Please call our box office at 510 647–2949 or email email@example.com.
Sarah Ruhl · Playwright
Becky Nurse of Salem marks Sarah’s sixth production at Berkeley Rep; previous productions at Berkeley Rep include For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday, the West Coast premiere of Eurydice, the world premiere of In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and the West Coast premiere of Dear Elizabeth. In the Next Room went on to Broadway, playing at Lyceum Theatre. Sarah’s other plays include The Oldest Boy, The Clean House, Passion Play, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Melancholy Play, Orlando, Late: a cowboy song, and Stage Kiss. Her plays have been seen off Broadway at Women’s Project Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage Theatre, and Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Her select regional credits include Yale Repertory Theatre and the Goodman Theatre. Sarah received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Whiting Award, the Lilly Award, a PEN Award, and the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award. She has been a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, was a New York Times notable book of the year. She teaches at Yale school of drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Anne Kauffman · Director
Anne is a New York-based freelance director. She is the artistic director of New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center. Her recent credits include Fire in My Mouth (New York Philharmonic), Hundred Days (New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, La Jolla Playhouse), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova), Mary Jane (NYTW & Yale Rep), A Life (Playwrights Horizons), The Nether (MCC), The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (Goodman Theatre), Belleville (Steppenwolf Theatre, NYTW). She is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a resident director at Roundabout Theatre, a founding member of The Civilians, a board member and associate artist with Clubbed Thumb, is on the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Executive Board and a trustee of SDCF. Anne’s awards include three Obie Awards, the Joan and Joseph Cullman Award for Exceptional Creativity from Lincoln Center, the Alan Schneider Director Award, two Barrymore Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and a Lilly Award.
Louisa Thompson · Scenic Design
Louisa was the scenic designer for Berkeley Rep’s production of Red. New York City credits: Playwrights Horizons, Elevator Repair Service, Soho Repertory Theatre, The Play Company, Target Margin Theater, Clubbed Thumb, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Theatreworks USA, The Foundry Theater Company, MCC Theatre. Regional credits: Alliance Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Arden Theatre, Bard Summerscape, McCarter Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, La Jolla Playhouse, The Children’s Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Geva Theatre, Triad Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre. MFA from Yale School of Drama. Associate Professor at Hunter College New York.
Meg Neville · Costume Design
Meg’s Berkeley Rep productions include Imaginary Comforts; It Can’t Happen Here; Hand to God; One Man, Two Guvnors; Party People; Macbeth; Pericles; The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…; Ghost Light; Eurydice. Regional credits include The Great Leap and Heisenberg at American Conservatory Theater, The Music Man at Arizona Theater Company, Blithe Spirit and The Cocoanuts at the Guthrie Theater, and Taming of the Shrew, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and The Cocoanuts at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as shows at California Shakespeare Theater, the Magic Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, Marin Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Yale Rep, Hartford Stage, Center Stage Baltimore, Second Stage, Dallas Theater Center, Atlantic Theater Company, BAM, New York Stage and Film. She resides in Marin with her family. megneville.com
Russell H. Champa · Lighting Design
Previous projects at Berkeley Rep include The Pillowman, Eurydice, and Dear Elizabeth, among others. Upcoming and recent projects include Wakey Wakey (American Conservatory Theater), Macbeth (California Shakespeare Theater), About Alice (Theatre for a New Audience), Romeo and Juliet (Huntington Stage Company), Everest (Kansas City Opera), and Thresh|Hold (Pilobolus). Broadway credits include China Doll (Gerald Schoenfeld Theater), In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) (Lyceum Theatre/Lincoln Center Theater), and Julia Sweeney’s God Said “Ha!” (Lyceum Theatre). New York work includes Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center Theater, The Public Theater, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, MCC, Julliard, and New York Stage and Film. Regional work includes Steppenwolf, The Old Globe, The Wilma, Trinity Rep, Mark Taper Forum, and The Kennedy Center.
Mikaal Sulaiman · Sound Design
Mikaal’s previous Berkeley Rep credits include White Noise. Off-Broadway: Continuity (Manhattan Theatre Club); Passage, Fairview (Soho Rep; Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Award nominations); Recent Alien Abductions, Time’s Journey Through a Room (Play Co.); Meet Vera Stark (Signature Theatre); Blue Ridge (Atlantic Theatre); The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons); Rags Parkland (Ars Nova; Drama Desk Award nomination); Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova); Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (New York Theatre Workshop); Master (Foundry Theatre Co.); Skittles: The Broadway Musical. Regional: Berkeley Rep (Fairview), Alley Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Trinity Rep, Pig Iron, Arden Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Early Morning Opera. mikaal.com
Daniel Kluger · Music
Broadway: Oklahoma! (2019 Tony nomination, Orchestrations), The Sound Inside, Seawall / A Life, revival of Marvin’s Room, world premiere of Significant Other. Off Broadway: premieres of Sunday, I Was Most Alive With You, Animal, The Village Bike, Man From Nebraska, Tribes, and Women or Nothing. Daniel has produced scores for many off-Broadway theatres including Lincoln Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, Atlantic Theater Company, Second Stage, Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard Theatre. danielkluger.com
Madeleine Oldham · Dramaturg
Madeleine is the director of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work and the Theatre’s resident dramaturg. She oversees commissioning and new play development, and dramaturged the world premiere productions of Fairview, Aubergine, The House that will not Stand, Passing Strange, and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), among others. As literary manager and associate dramaturg at Center Stage in Baltimore, she produced the First Look reading series and headed up its young audience initiative. Before moving to Baltimore, she was the literary manager at Seattle Children’s Theatre, where she oversaw an extensive commissioning program. She also acted as assistant and interim literary manager at Intiman Theatre in Seattle. Madeleine served for four years on the executive committee of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and has also worked with ACT (Seattle), Austin Scriptworks, Crowded Fire, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Kennedy Center, New Dramatists, Playwrights Center, and Portland Center Stage.
Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting
Amy begins her 30th season with 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. She worked on various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; The 8th Year of the Emergency by Maureen Towey; 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. She 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. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and received an Artios Award for Excellence in Casting for Angels in America.
Telsey + Company · Casting
Broadway/Tours: West Side Story, Tina, The Sound Inside, Linda Vista, Beetlejuice, Oklahoma!, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mean Girls, Frozen, Come From Away, Waitress, Hamilton, Wicked, My Fair Lady, Once on This Island, Hello, Dolly!, Anastasia. Off Broadway: Atlantic Theater Company, Classic Stage Company, MCC Theater, New Group, Park Avenue Armory, Second Stage Theatre. Film: The Kitchen, Mary Poppins Returns, Ben Is Back, The Greatest Showman, Into the Woods, Rachel Getting Married. TV: Tales of the City, Fosse/Verdon, NOS4A2, This Is Us, NCIS: New Orleans, One Day at a Time, Rent, commercials. telseyandco.com
Michael Suenkel · Production Stage Manager
Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 26th season as production stage manager. He has also worked with the Huntington Theatre (Boston), The Public Theater and New Victory Theatre (New York), La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, and many others. Internationally he has stage managed shows in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Among his favorite Berkeley Rep productions are Angels in America, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, Eurydice, Endgame, The Beaux’ Stratagem, and Mad Forest.
Sofie Miller · Assistant Stage Manager
Sofie is grateful to be in her seventh season with Berkeley Rep. Favorite productions include Angels in America, Kiss My Aztec, Imaginary Comforts, Roe, Party People, Latin History for Morons, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Sofie has also worked regionally with Aurora Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and California Shakespeare Theater, and has stage managed concerts in NYC at Joe’s Pub and Urban Stages. Sofie holds a BA in Theater Arts and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Theater Management from University of California, Santa Cruz.
Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Consultant
Maya Herbsman · Intimacy Consultant
Valerie & Michael Nelson of Magical Moonshine Theatre · Puppetry Consultants
William Cantler, CSA · Casting
Karyn Casl, CSA · Casting
Owen Campbell · Stan
Owen is an actor and arts organizer from Brooklyn, NY. This is Owen’s Berkeley Rep debut. Past New York productions include Hangmen (Atlantic Theater) and Indian Summer (Playwrights Horizons). Selected past film work includes The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Super Dark Times, and As You Are. Owen has recurred on FX’s The Americans and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, among other television series. He is a founding member of the Zoo City art collective and co-director of 999 [Triple Nine], an organization which temporarily converts unused industrial spaces into donation-based studio and rehearsal space. He is a Gemini.
Rod Gnapp · Shape Shifter
Rod is happy to return to Berkeley Rep, where he has appeared in Mad Forest, How I Learned to Drive, Pentecost, and many others. A veteran of Bay Area stages, Rod recently appeared in Visible From Four States with the Magic Theatre, Sweat at American Conservatory Theater, and Seared at the San Francisco Playhouse. Theatre credits also include work at California Shakespeare Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, Word for Word, the Huntington Theatre Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Virginia Playhouse, and Pittsburgh Public Theater. Rod can be seen in the Miller brothers’ independent feature film Touching Home with Ed Harris. He can also be seen in Valley of the Heart’s Delight, Calendar Confloption (Pixar), and Back to the Streets of San Francisco and heard in Cars 3. He is the recipient of many San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards and is a graduate of the ACT Master of Fine Arts Program. He is an Aries.
Naian González Norvind · Gail
Berkeley Rep debut. Naian made her New York stage debut off Broadway in Her Requiem (LCT3). Her other theatre credits include Illyria (The Public Theater) and How To Transcend a Happy Marriage (Lincoln Center Theatre). She co-wrote and stars in Leona (Winner Best Actress FICM). Her other film and TV credits include Cubby, South Mountain, Rebel in the Rye, Everybody’s Got Somebody…Not Me (Winner Best Actress Guanajuato Film Festival), Chicago Med, Gotham (recurring guest star), The Devil You Know (HBO), Blue Bloods, Cronica de Castas, Pacientes (ONCE TV). Education/Training: Sorbonne University, Major: Literature, Minor: Film; London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. She is an Aquarius.
Ruibo Qian · Witch
Ruibo is making her Berkeley Rep debut. New York and regional credits include Bull in a China Shop (Lincoln Center Theater), Fucking A (Signature Theatre), Tiger Style! (Huntington Theatre Company, Alliance Theatre), Henry IV Part I (Pearl Theatre Company), Water by the Spoonful (The Old Globe), The Great Leap (American Conservatory Theater), and The Nether and Significant Other (San Francisco Playhouse). Film and television credits include Manchester by the Sea, Black Mirror, Mozart in the Jungle, High Maintenance, New Amsterdam, The Sinner, Living with Yourself, Broad City, and Jessica Jones. Ruibo holds a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from New York University’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program. She is a proud recipient of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship. She is a Capricorn. ruiboqian.com
Pamela Reed · Becky Nurse
Pamela is a veteran actor of theatre, film, and television. On and off-Broadway credits include Fools, Standing on My Knees, Getting Out (Drama Desk Award), Curse of the Starving Class (Drama Desk nomination), Aunt Dan and Lemon, Fen, Sorrows of Stephen, All’s Well That Ends Well, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, world premiere of Ezra Pound’s translation of Sophocles’ Elektra, and the National Broadway tour of The Humans. Regional theatre includes Old Times, Curse of the Starving Class, and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (American Conservatory Theater); Other Desert Cities and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle); and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Gregory Award, Best Actress), Luna Gale (Gregory Award, Best Actress), and A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Seattle Repertory Theatre). Notable film and TV roles include Kindergarten Cop, The Long Riders, Bean, Junior, Melvin & Howard, The Best of Times, Cadillac Man, Passed Away, Proof of Life, The Right Stuff, Tanner 88 (Cable Ace Award, Best Actress), Grand, NCIS: LA, and Parks and Rec. Pamela has received the Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance.
Adrian Roberts · Bob
Adrian is thrilled to be working at Berkeley Rep again where he was last seen as Commander Osembenga in Ruined by Lynn Nottage, directed by Liesl Tommy. His most recent Bay Area credits are the title role of Macbeth at African American Shakespeare Company and Chaucer Mosely in Urban Retreat at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. Other Bay Area credits include Steve Daniels in A Lesson from Aloes at Z Space, James T in Barbecue at SF Playhouse, Willie in Master Harold and the Boys and Gabriel in Breakfast with Mugabi at Aurora Theatre Company, Claudius in Hamlet and King Basillio in Life Is a Dream at Cal Shakes, Martin Luther King Jr. in Mountaintop at TheaterWorks, Disciple Ufot in Runboyrun and Charles Boyd in Pen/Man/Ship at the Magic Theatre, and Gabriel/Troy in Fences at Marin Theatre Company. Adrian’s regional credits include three seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Booster in Jitney at American Stage, and Ken in the Playboy of the West Indies at Lincoln Center, among others. He has been seen in television shows such as Scrubs, Criminal Minds, and Brothers & Sisters. Adrian is a graduate of ACT’s MFA program.
Elissa Beth Stebbins · Shelby
Elissa is delighted to make her Berkeley Rep main stage debut, after performing in The Ground Floor reading of Watch Me. Recent regional credits include Kings, Kiss, The Village Bike, and Caught (Shotgun Players); In Braunau (San Francisco Playhouse Sandbox Series); Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. and You For Me For You (Crowded Fire Theatre); The Little Prince (Marin Theatre Company); and Minneola Twins (Cutting Ball), among others. She is a TBA Award winner, and a Titan grant recipient. Elissa graduated from Santa Clara University, and has continued training with Shakespeare and Company, and Atelier Matteo Destro. She is an Aquarius.
The actors and stage managers are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
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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Docent talks and discussions
Pre-show docent talks
Meet us in the Theatre 55 minutes before the show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings and Sunday matinees 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 25-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.
Page to Stage
Every season, Berkeley Rep hosts Page to Stage, a series of free discussions with eminent theatre artists, designed to give audiences additional insight into the plays and playwrights produced at Berkeley Rep. Past programs have featured theatre luminaries such as Tony Kushner, Mary Zimmerman, Emma Rice, and Mira Nair.
- Monday, November 11, 2019
Resident Dramaturg Madeleine Oldham leads a conversation with award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl about her new play Becky Nurse of Salem in the Peet’s Theatre
Page to Stage starts at 7pm and runs about 60 minutes. No tickets are necessary, but seating is limited. The lobby opens at 6:15pm, and doors to the Theatre open at 6:30pm for general admission seating. Berkeley Rep donors at the Contributor level or higher ($150+) enjoy reserved seating. For more information about Page to Stage or how to become a donor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.
- Friday, December 13, 2019
Teen Night begins at 6:30pm at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Learn more and reserve your space.
Actor Q & A’s
Stick around after the show on select Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights for lively Q & A sessions with our artists.
- Thursday, January 2, 2020
- Tuesday, January 7, 2020
- Friday, January 17, 2020