How to Write a New Book for the Bible – Berkeley Repertory Theatre [Review]

I’ve always loved good coming-of age-stories, origin stories, and memoirs. Bill Cain’s latest play, How to Write a New Book for the Bible (directed by Kent Nicholson at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre), indeed satisfies my thirst for this kind of psycho-analytical character-driven drama. However, while I walked into this play understanding that it was autobiographical and written following the death of Cain’s mother, Mary, what I didn’t expect was how hard and often I could laugh while watching a play written in such somber circumstances, and how much I could actually enjoy a bit of “preachiness” in a play.

Tyler Pierce and Linda Gehringer. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

It may be unfair to describe How to Write as preachy. Cain is actually a Jesuit Priest/award-winning-playwright, so it is entirely appropriate that at key moments, Bill, (played charmingly by Tyler Pierce) speaks directly to the audience, combining funny and entirely relatable observations with reverent revelation. Pierce plays Bill Cain as if he were the impossible offspring of Ray Romano and Henry David Thoreau. And although these monologues are certainly informed by Cain’s clerical past (the character half-waxes-half-admits that “all writing is prayer”), they seem to trod the inviting meanderings of a philosopher-poet, eschewing the guilt-laden homilies which former-Catholics fervently avoid.

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Workin for the Weekend – eventseekr’s Top Picks for 10/21/11-10/23/11

In addition to the Bridge School Benefit concert going down this weekend,  we think there are some other events here in the Bay Area that you won’t want to miss. Here are our picks for this weekend:

Shakespeare’s Richard III at the Curran Theatre (October 19-29): Uh, three words: Shakespeare, Spacey and Mendes. Sam Mendes directed Kevin Spacey in the critically acclaimed movie, American Beauty, and the two have teamed up again to bring audiences their version of Shakespeare’s epic history play, Richard III. The British/American cast is only making 10 stops on their international tour, and the show is already mostly sold out, so get your tickets while you still can! Brought to San Francisco by the SHN, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s The Bridge Project and London’s Old Vic, this play will be performed at the Curran Theatre 12 times over the next 10 days.

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Bon Iver w/ Other Lives at the Greek Theatre 9/22/2011 [Review]

I had the bar set high for the this show–so high that on my way to the venue, I began worrying that all the hype I created would be the downfall of it all. Sometimes, I’m really happy when I’m wrong.

The scene was set when Other Lives took the stage. The sun had just disappeared, leaving an orange and pink glow around the stage that would eventually fade into the dark backdrop of the sky. I was ready for the band’s meditative sounds to slowly transition my day into night, but Other Lives had other plans. The band set the night on fire with a steady flow of instrumental music that was much more intense live than it was in recordings. Its layered sound was magnified by the performance of the drummer and percussionist, who gave their drums and cymbals a thorough beating throughout the show. Front-man Jesse Tabish had his guitar slung around his back as he bounced back and forth between his keyboard and cymbal, nearly breaking his drumstick in the process. Of course, driven by textured harmonies, the songs always took on pensive overtones that still kept the ambiance of the Greek Theatre contemplative. The life that Tabish and his band pumped into their music was a pleasant surprise.

Bon Iver at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

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