Berkeley Repertory Theatre has announced plans to conclude its 45th season with a reunion of Broadway talent. Tony Award-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl and director Les Waters, who have collaborated on several works including Eurydice, Three Sisters, and In the Next Room, for which Ruhl earned her Tony nomination, will come together to put on the West Coast premiere of Ruhl's Dear Elizabeth at Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre this May. The play follows the intimate friendship that blossomed between American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell as they traded hundreds of cross-continental letters, filled with passion and wit.
"It's a delight to come back to Berkeley Rep, which has been an artistic home for me — and for Sarah — for many years," Waters said in a statement. "It's always a pleasure to direct in the Bay Area, as audiences here crave smart and savvy new works. I hope that they are as engaged by this subtle and touching story as we have been."
Ruhl remarked, "I'm so happy to be working again at Berkeley Rep with Les…I think there is no better town to receive an unconventional love story between two brilliant and unconventional poets. I was terribly moved when Les signed on to direct the play before I'd finished writing it, and when Tony signed on to produce it while it was still in process. Having an artistic home like that in this day in age is rare and radical."
Drama Desk Award nominee Mary Beth Fisher (Boy Gets Girl), who premiered the play at Yale Rep in 2012, will reprise her role as Bishop, with Broadway veteran Tom Nelis (Enron) in the role of Lowell. Performances will begin May 24 with an official opening set for May 29. The production is scheduled to run through July 7.
The creative team for Dear Elizabeth will feature set design by Annie Smart, costume design by Maria Hooper, lighting design by Russell Champa, sound design by Bray Poor, and projections by Hannah Wasileski, with Cynthia Cahill stage managing. Mary and Nicholas Graves, John and Helen Meyer, and Jean and Michael Strunsky are the production's executive producers.