Welcome to the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley website!

The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Very Nearly Shakespeare in the Park
By Francis Beaumont
Adapted by Vicki Siegel
Directed by Lelan Fernando
Weekends in John Hinkel Park (Directions)

Free: Saturday and Sunday August 19th-September 3rd at 4 p.m., plus Monday September 4th (Labor Day) at 4 p.m. (Click Here For Photos)

Knight of the Burning Pestle Poster"The Knight of the Burning Pestle", written by the accomplished Jacobean playwright Francis Beaumont and first performed around 1607, finds the audience interrupting the (apparently rather dull) Elizabethan drama "The London Merchant", insisting instead the players perform a different play (made up on the spot) starring the Citizen's apprentice Rafe as "The Knight of the Burning Pestle".  The players themselves stumble on, alternately trying to get through "Merchant" while periodically returning to the adventures of "The Knight".

The first parody written in the English language, the first to break the 4th wall, and perhaps the first modern play, it has been more and more frequently revived in the 21st century, as the antics of the "audience" and the consternation of "the players" tickle the funny bones of modern audiences just as much or more as they tickled the courts of King James and King Charles.

The production will be infused with music and directed by newly minted U.C. Berkeley theatre graduate Lelan Fernando, fresh off directing a number of works at Cal during his senior year, with stage management by Tessa Maurer.  Lelan will be assisted by Michael R. Cohen, who directed our first foray at John Hinkel Park, "Fortinbras" back in 2013.

Performances begin Saturday, August 19th at 4 p.m. at John Hinkel Park in Berkeley, and continue on weekends at 4 p.m. through September 3rd, with a special performance on Monday, September 4th at 4 p.m.

Productions are Free-of-Charge, no reservation necessary.  John Hinkel Park is an outdoor amphitheatre consisting of a series of stone terraces - pillows, blankets, and low lawnchairs are recommended. For folks with limited mobility we will reserve spots at ground level and/or the first few rows - call 510-649-5999 for a reservation.  Wheelchair accessible.  The performance will last 1 1/2 hours, including a 15 minute intermission, with hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob on offer! Portable restrooms on-site.  Directions and transit information on our website.

"Pestle" features Actors Ensemble veterans Marsha van Broek as the Wife/Nell, Lee Vogt as The Citizen/George, Polina Litvak as Humphrey, Susannah Wood as Mistress Merrythought, Bruce Kaplan as Merrythought, and Peter Weiss as The Merchant, with newcomers Alexander Espinosa Pieb as Rafe, Shannon Maudlin as Michael, Kaz Valtchev as Jasper, and Katherine Garcia as Luce.  Set design by Elena Childs and costume design by Marie Morley.

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley has been producing high-quality theatre with a community flavor since 1957.

Directions to John Hinkel Park


The Knight of the Burning Pestle
The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Questions?  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Actors Ensemble Facebook Group

Thank You

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is delighted to acknowledge the Berkeley Civic Arts Program and Civic Arts Commission's support in the form of a grant of $8,000.00 awarded in 2017. Also, a thank you to Theatre Bay Area for a grant of $2,500.00.

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley - P.O. Box 663 - Berkeley - California - 94701 ¦ Our Answering Service: (510) 649-5999 ¦

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Federal Tax ID #946139640, since 04-1967