Poet, playwright, director, and performer Brian Freeman and Berkeley Repertory Theatre proposed to develop the original play, Here and There, exploring the politics of HIV/AIDS in South Africa through the story of Simon Tseko Nkoli, a colorful character who has been described as “The Harvey Milk of South Africa”. The Creative Work Fund grant enabled Freeman to begin his research and work closely with Berkeley Repertory’s Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Dramaturg Luan Schooler in developing the initial script.
The Berkeley Repertory Theatre portion of the project culminated with a two-week workshop and staged reading for an invited audience in summer 2003. It was postponed indefinitely when Luan Schooler moved away, and Freeman needed additional time to work on research. The collaborators agreed to return the unspent balance of the grant, which was later transferred to The Magic Theatre. The Magic Theatre presented a staged reading four years later.
Lead artist Brian Freeman was a member of the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe for eight seasons. He went on to collaborate with the African American performance ensemble Cultural Odyssey and co-founded the performance trio Pomo Afro Homos. His play Civil Sex, based on the life of the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, premiered at the Marsh Theater in 1997, and received the Will Glickman Award for Best New Play. Later it was mounted successfully at Berkeley Repertory Theater.
Established in 1968 as a storefront community theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown to become one of the United States’ pre-eminent professional nonprofit theater companies, with a reputation for quality productions and an ambitious, eclectic repertoire that includes both new works and fresh adaptations of classic plays.
Photo credit: Sarah Rice, Special to The Chronicle