"I think there are things I notice and find odd, weird, exciting, inspiring and different about American politics which probably an American wouldn't."
-- David Edgar
View Spark segment on David Edgar. Original air date: January 2004. (Running Time: 8:45)
English playwright David Edgar was commissioned to write "Continental Divide" in 2000 by Berkeley Repertory Theatre's artistic director Tony Taccone, as a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Three years later, after months of research, the play opened as part of Berkeley Rep's 2003-04 season. From first meeting to opening night, Spark is there for the backstage drama as the script is finalized against the backdrop of California's real-life gubernatorial drama.
Edgar describes this production as a "European epic play that has an American subject." Taking the form of two three-hour interconnected plays that explore the complex political landscape of contemporary America, the setting is a gubernatorial election -- "Mothers Against" looks at the Republican campaign and "Daughters of the Revolution" concentrates on the Democratic Party. With the same characters appearing in both plays, the plays can be seen in either order, and each one can also stand alone.
"Continental Divide" explores what has happened to the ideals of the 1960s, exploring the dissipation of the beliefs of the American Right and Left. Although "Continental Divide" takes place in a state that seems to resemble the West Coast of the United States, Edgar maintains that any resemblance to real events in Californian politics is purely coincidental. Additionally, the ending is deliberately ambiguous so that the focus of the play is the political process and the possibilities of the future as seen on either side.
More about David Edgar
Edgar lives in Birmingham, England, and has been a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party. Politics have always been his central concern as a dramatist, but he does not use drama to answer questions, rather to raise them. His works include the Tony Award-winning adaptation of Dickens's "Nicholas Nickleby" along with the original plays "Death Story," "That Summer" and "Entertaining Strangers." Edgar is a professor at the University of Birmingham, where he founded and directed Britain's first postgraduate course in playwriting.
More about Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Michael W. Leibert founded Berkeley Rep in 1968 as a storefront community theater. Winner of the 1997 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, its national reputation draws theater artists from around the country to work on a variety of productions from September through July. The season consists of seven productions of the finest classic, contemporary and new plays. The Berkeley Rep School of Theatre offers classes and activities for both youth and adults and tours a fully staged professional production to schools throughout the 11-county greater Bay Area.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Where: 2025 Addison St., Berkeley
Phone: (510) 647-2949
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