The Ground Floor

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Funding Received: 2011
Berkeley, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 29, 2011

During the creation of a new program like The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. We are asking ourselves how to create enough of a structure that will guide us in decision making, and also striving to remain flexible enough so that we can continue to foster innovation. It requires us to take another look at and refine our core values and goals.

This week we'd like to share some of the big questions we’ve been grappling with and how we’re working to tackle the answers.


Q: How do we redefine the process by which we do new work? How do we define new work? How has Berkeley Rep supported new work and innovation in the past and how do we capture that spirit? How do we support multidisciplinary projects? What role should new technologies play? How do we support artists that work in different ways from our norm?

A: We are continuing to question our assumptions about what processes are best in the creation of new work. In addition to enhancing existing relationships, we hope to invite artists who work in different ways from us to join us in residencies and open our eyes to some new alternatives. In order to keep challenging ourselves and build on our past new work success, we are looking at the way we’ve supported and communicated the need for risk-taking in the past and trying to apply those lessons to this program.

Action item: We just received over 200 applications from artists across the nation (and a few abroad!) that are interested in participating in our first summer residency lab. Through this process we hope to identify some new (to us) artists who will help us stretch our artistic muscles in different ways.

Outreach and engagement

Q: Who is the core audience for this program? What is our responsibility to the local artistic community and how do we connect with them? How do we meaningfully provide access to the public for this project and how might that translate into the larger workings of our theatre while still maintaining a safe creation space for artists?

A: We recognize a lot of these questions will be answered through experimentation. We are starting off by making sure we’re having conversations with all different types of potential audiences and participants to see where their interests lie. We’re hoping these inquiries will help us to anticipate the ways in which people will get involved so that we can have avenues of participation set up for them.

Action item: We’re holding numerous brainstorm sessions both with our staff and with key community members. We are asking everyone to think about how we can experiment with technology, media, the audience’s relationship to the development process and the ways in which we can involve larger West Berkeley artist community.