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A Particle of Dread: Oedipus Variations

By Sam Shepard | Directed by Robert Estes
Oct 18 to Nov 10, 2019
Friday & Saturday at 8 PM | Sundays at 2:30 PM
Tuesday Show, Nov. 5 at 8 PM
No Show Sunday, Oct. 20th

Tickets | Reservations: 510 649 5999 | Press Photos | Program PDF

Performed at Old Finnish Hall, 1819 10th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. The venue is not Wheelchair Accessible. Directions to Old Finnish Hall.

Anton's Well Theater Company and Actors Ensemble of Berkeley are proud to present the Bay Area premiere of Sam Shepard's last play, A PARTICLE OF DREAD: OEDIPUS VARIATIONS.

The play brilliantly fractures the Oedipus myth into the times of both then and now--with many of the actors playing both the roles of the myth's central characters:  Oedipus, Jocasta, Laius, Antigone, Tiresias, and their modern counterparts:  Otto, Jocelyn, Langos, Annalee, and Uncle Del. As the play delves deeply into the mysteries of family and fate, Shepard's signature rambunctious language is gorgeously present in numerous monologues, and, in the searing, conflicted encounters between the mythic characters.

It's as if Shepard is revisiting and deepening his exhumation of society's buried secrets that began in the 1970s with the world pemiere of his family plays (BURIED CHILD, CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS, TRUE WEST, and FOOL FOR LOVE) at the Magic Theater, where he was the resident playwright. In bringing Shepard's last play to the Bay Area, where so many of his great plays began, AWTC and AEB hope once again his always timely and prescient theatrical voice will thrill local audiences.  The New York Times says the play is a "must-see for fans of Shepard."

The cast includes the accomplished local actors Amanda Artru, Bruce Avery, Zoe Curzi, Clay David, Leticia Duarte, Francisco Rodriguez, and Don Wood. The play is directed by Robert Estes, who previously helmed Anton's Well's Bay Area premiere production of Sam Shepard's AGES OF THE MOON, which the San Francisco Chronicle praised for its "great feeling in the stillness."

  • Description: Bruce Avery
  • Description: Francisco Rodriguez
  • Description: Clay David and Zoe Curzi
  • Description: Cast and Crew: Top Row, L-R, William Razo, Jerome Solberg, Robert Estes, Don Wood, Francisco Rodriguez, Leticia Duarte. Bottom Row: Amanda Artru, Bruce Avery, Zoe Curzi. In front: Nathan Bogner. Not shown - Clay David


Oedipus/Otto - Clay David
Jocasta/Jocelyn - Leticia Duarte
Uncle Del/Traveler/Maniac of the Outskirts/Oracle - Don Wood
Annalee/Antigone - Zoe Curzi
Lawrence/Langos/Laius - Francisco Rodriguez
Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Harrington - Bruce Avery
Forensic Investigator Ronnie Randolph - Amanda Artru

Tickets are $20-$25

Presented October 18-November 10, Fridays and Saturday, 8PM; Sunday, 2:30PM. One Tuesday performance on November 5, 8PM. No performance on Sunday, October 20. Old Finnish Hall, 1819 Tenth Street, Berkeley, 94710   The venue is not wheelchair accessible.  For reservations or questions call 510 649 5999.

About the Playwright: Sam Shepard, "the greatest American playwright of his generation" per the New York Times, was a Bay Area resident for many years and won a Pulitzer Prize for Buried Child, premiering in San Francisco at the Magic Theatre in 1978.  As the Magic's playwright-in-residence, he wrote some of his best work:  Curse of the Starving Class (1976), True West (1980), Fool for Love (1983), and A Lie of the Mind (1985).  Anton's Well presented Ages of the Moon in 2016. Mr. Shepard was also an author, actor, director, and screenwriter.  A Particle of Dread:  Oedipus Variations is his final play.

About the Director: Robert Estes began his directing career by helming Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class at the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, where he also directed Heartbreak House, Arcadia, Rock 'n' Roll, and Falstaff!  For Anton's Well, Robert directed Old Times, Or,, Dying City, What Rhymes with America, Ages of the Moon, Tender Napalm, This Wide Night, The Human Ear, 4.48 Psychosis, dirty butterfly, Escaped Alone, Here We Go, and Knives in Hens.  Mr. Estes also directed at other local theaters such as The Masquers Playhouse and RAW at Ross Valley Players.  He served as a dramaturg at the California Shakespeare Theatre, the Magic Theater, and Town Hall Theater.

About the Companies Co-Producing A PARTICLE OF DREAD:  OEDIPUS VARIATIONS: ANTON'S WELL THEATER COMPANY began in late 2014 with a production of Harold Pinter's Old Times. In the five years since then, the company has presented Bay Area pemieres by Caryl Churchill, Sam Shepard, debbie tucker green, Alexandra Wood, Philip Ridley, Melissa James Gibson, and Christopher Shinn (the productions by the last five playwrights being the first time any of their work has been presented here in the Bay Area). The company also produced the rarely seen "4.48 Psychosis" by Sarah Kane. Anton's Well plans to offer a four-play season in 2020, made up of plays exploring the possibilities of theatrical language, while engaging with the eternal question of what is to be human. antonswell.org

About ACTORS ENSEMBLE OF BERKELEY: The company was. founded in 1957 by a group of friends who wanted to continue the legacy of Fred and Mary Harris, the founders of UC Berkeley's Dramatic Arts department, with an emphasis on the ensemble.  It has been producing plays in Berkeley continuously since that time. In recent years AEB has produced 2-3 main stage productions per year, both indoors at Live Oak Theatre and outdoors at the John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, along with numerous staged readings, all in Berkeley.  Notable recent productions include Hamlet with the role of Hamlet himself shared amongst the ensemble, an adaption of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged with 9 actors, both at John Hinkel, and Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth at Live Oak Theatre.  AEB is governed and operated collectively by a volunteer board of directors, who donate their time to ensure ensemble theatre is alive and thriving in the East Bay.  We are proud to be helping to produce this wondrous play with Robert and Anton's Well.

AEB is producing in conjunction with A PARTICLE OF DREAD our Fall Staged Reading Series, comprising Jizo, by local playwright Jane Goldsmith, directed by Gary Green, Lysistrata, adapted by Ellen McLaughlin, directed by Kayla Kaufman, and A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Bolt, directed by Gabriel Ross, playing in succession on Monday evenings during the run of PARTICLE at The Old Finnish Hall. 

Coming up in January 2020 is our principal stage production of She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen, directed by Kayla Kaufman, opening January 10th at LaVal's Subterranean Theatre in Berkeley. 

About the Venue:  OLD FINNISH HALL: In the early 1900s there existed a thriving Finnish community in Berkeley, drawn to the Bay Area as a welcoming place for their skills as fisherman and craftsmen.  After the 1906 Earthquake, the community was further strengthened by refugees from across the bay.  The strong sense of community led to the building of Toveri Tupa (Comrades' Lodge) at 1819 10th Street in Berkeley, comprising a community kitchen and meeting rooms along with a cavernous auditorium, handcrafted by the community itself.  The Finnish community included a large contingent drawn to workers' movements of all stripes, and the Hall was notable throughout the 1920s and 1930s as a hotbed of activism.  Significant stress was put on the Finnish community by the Finnish Civil War of 1918, and the divisions this engendered led finally to a split in 1935 with the building nearby of the Finnish Kavela (Brotherhood) Hall, also known White Finn Hall.  Thenceforth Toveri Tupa was known as Red Finn Hall, and continued as center for Finnish community and workers' movements through to the 1970s.  The hall was then sold and endures now as a cultural and community center for the neighborhood.  We hope you enjoy this magnificent setting for these mythic characters. http://oldfinnishhall.org

Upcoming Events:

  • Auditions for our Fall 2019 Staged Reading Series:  October 6th and 7th 7-10 p.m.  Write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and/or an appointment.
  • Auditions for our She Kills Monsters:  Oct. 13th and 14th, Callbacks Oct. 20th.  Opens January 10th, 2020.  Write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and/or an appointment.
  • Sam Shepard's A Particle of Dread: Oedipus Variations directed by Robert Estes, Fridays and Saturday October 18th - November 10th, 2019 at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees October 27th, November 3rd and November 10th, 2:30 p.m., special show Tuesday November 5th at 8 p.m., Old Finnish Hall, 1819 10th Street in Berkeley.
  • Staged Reading:  Jizo by Jane Goldsmith, directed by Gary Green.  Old Finnish Hall, 8 p.m. Monday Oct. 21st, 2019, pay-what-you-will.
    * Staged Reading:  Lysistrata adapted by Ellen McLaughlin, directed by Kayla Kaufman.  Old Finnish Hall, 8 p.m. Monday Oct. 28th, 2019, pay-what-you-will.
  • Staged Reading:  A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt, directed by Gabe Ross.  Old Finnish Hall, 8 p.m. Monday Nov. 4th, 2019 pay-what-you-will.
  • She Kills Monsters, by Qui Nguyen, directed by Kayla Kaufman. January 10th - February 1st, 2020, 8 p.m., LaVal's Subterranean Theatre.
  • Winter Staged Readings Series, TBD January 13th through 27th, 2020, LaVal's Subterranean Theatre

Actors Ensemble
P.O. Box 663
Berkeley, CA 94701
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A 501(3)(c) organization

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.

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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