A Room With A View
This summer, Actors Ensemble of Berkeley will be bringing a new adaptation of EM Forster's beloved novel, A Room With A View, to the John Hinkle Park Amphitheatre on weekends July 1st - July 16th plus a special show on Tuesday, July 4th, all at 4 p.m.
Written by Bay Area playwright Stuart Eugene Bousel, who has long considered the book and the 1985 Merchant Ivory film of it to be one of his favorites, this production will be directed by local actor/director Andrew Calabrese.
The story of a young English woman who, while on a holiday in Italy, meets a rich ensemble of characters who will change her life and shape her emerging consciousness, A Room With A View was Forster's third novel to be published and his first great success. Later adapted into an award winning film directed by James Ivory (with an Oscar winning screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), it was through the movie that Bousel became aware of the material. "I saw it when I was 15 or 16 years old, one night on the Bravo! channel, when I was up late and couldn't sleep. I was immediately captivated by the beauty of the film, but also the simple and yet profound nature of the story. I could see myself in every character, from the young woman who is learning what it means to take control of your own life, to the young man who discovers there is joy to be found in the world we live in now, to the other young man who doesn't understand that a love of aesthetic beauty is not the same as a love for humanity."
After reading the novel (and every other book by Forster that has been published) he began a tradition of watching A Room With A View every Easter, and later adapted Celestial Omnibus, a collection of short stories by Forster, into the play Pandemonium, which had a reading at the EXIT Theatre in 2014. Included in the cast of that reading was Andrew Calabrese, who was Bousel's first pick to direct this summer's production.
Andrew Calabrese has collaborated with Bousel on at least a half dozen projects including full-staged productions, readings, and on-line content that was produced during the pandemic. Andrew was also present for at least a half dozen viewings of the Merchant Ivory film at Stuart's annual Easter brunch. Calabrese says, "I really love what Stuart has done with his script. It is so sleek and pared down. The production will rely soley on the actors, the Berkeley Hills and, of course, the audience's imagination to evoke the magnificent Italian vistas, opulent English drawing rooms, and suppressed passion in Forster's work. It's like Our Town meets A Room with a View. It's incredibly theatrical and literary all at once."
Actors Ensemble is the longest-running theatrical organization in Berkeley. An entirely volunteer-run organization, they have produced shows in venues throughout Berkeley consistently since 1957, with free productions in John Hinkel Park since 2013. A Room With A View marks their return to the beautiful John Hinkel Amphitheater after the pandemic and renovation work completed by the City of Berkeley in late summer 2022. Actors Ensemble board member Jerome Solberg remarks "When Stuart Bousel presented his concept of A Room With a View to us, we immediately seized upon the project as an ideal vehicle to mark our return to the park. The work is accessible on many levels, with humor, passion, and a zest for life - we anticipate the audience as well as the actors will savor every moment." Though the show will undoubtedly be influenced by the film and, naturally, the novel it is based on, it also provides a chance to bring a fresh, relevant take on the story. As Bousel writes, "I became aware, re-reading the book now, that it not only has so much to say to us, but says a number of things which are not in the film. When a piece has been adapted into something so iconic, one can easily forget that no one adaptation can do it all. I definitely make some very different choices, some of which I hope will help bring this work to new audiences and take advantage of theater as a medium apart from and just as engaging as film."
This July, we hope you'll join us for this celebration of love, life, and the everlasting "Yes!"
A Room With a View
by E.M. Forster
adapted by Stuart Bousel
directed by Andrew Calabrese
produced by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley
4 p.m. Weekends July 1st - July 16th plus Tuesday, July 4th.
John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre
41 Somerset Pl., Berkeley, CA 94707.
Free, reservations TBA