Eight individuals meet to share their tales and lift their voices up in music. They are a 12-stage team of sorts, but the habit they are seeking to kick is the internet.
Whether they’re obsessively checking their mentions on social media, playing “Candy Crush” or working with dating apps, they come across themselves dropping on their own on the net.
That’s the essential premise of “Octet,” the spellbinding chamber choir musical by Dave Malloy obtaining its West Coast debut at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
“I was doing the job on a piece on Taoism, and that piece under no circumstances basically quite coalesced into anything,” Malloy recalls. “Taoism has this central tenet that argument by itself is type of a futile physical exercise, simply because if something was naturally correct there would be no need to argue about it. So I was considering about that, and the way that men and women argue with just about every other on the net, and the way that discourse unravels online. And it turned into this larger sized piece about on the internet things in normal.”
“I ordinarily make theater about a thing that I’m obsessed with presently,” he provides, “and I noticed my very own online tendencies have been having into obsessive and addictive sites. So it was like, it’s possible I really should be searching at this.”
“Octet” premiered in 2019 at New York’s Signature Theatre Business, the place Malloy is playwright in residence. Directed by Annie Tippe, Berkeley Rep’s creation options 7 out of 8 of the initial solid.
“I’ve finished some quite small revisions listed here and there, just a pair of musical factors that had been bugging me, and there is some tiny adjustments that have built it submit-COVID, some traces that just felt so out of area immediately after obtaining just professional the past two a long time,” Malloy suggests. “I consider to actually do a piece about monitor time in the course of the time of COVID would be just a wholly different piece. It was just this sort of a cataclysmic improve. So it is even now a piece that was written before individuals times, but there are just some minor alterations to reflect it.”
Now dependent in Brooklyn, Malloy begun his profession in the Bay Space, generating and accomplishing in exhibits with Banana Bag & Bodice in San Francisco and Berkeley (“Sandwich,” “Gulag Ha Ha,” “The Sewers”) and with 10 Purple Hen in the steel store of Berkeley’s Willard Middle School (“(The 99-cent) Skip Saigon,” “Clown Bible”).
“Beowulf — A Thousand Several years of Baggage,” his “songplay” with BB&B and Shotgun Players, won the Glickman Award for best perform to premiere in the Bay Space in 2008 and went on to a operate in New York that helped start his vocation there.
He and “Beowulf” collaborator Jason Craig returned to Shotgun in 2011 with “Beardo,” a songplay about Rasputin. Malloy’s “Ghost Quartet,” which begun in Berkeley Rep’s new works incubator the Floor Floor, performed San Francisco’s Curran Theater in 2015.
In 2016 Malloy manufactured his Broadway debut with “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” an electropop opera centered on a section of “War and Peace,” which went on to be nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won two, for lights and established structure.
It also finished in controversy, when producers tried to revitalize ticket sales by replacing “Hamilton” veteran Okieriete Onaodowan with Mandy Patinkin in the direct, which had been at first performed by Malloy, and on Broadway by Josh Groban. Instantly changing a Black actor with a white star sparked criticism on social media, Patinkin pulled out, and Malloy ended up stepping back into the part.
That knowledge also had an affect on “Octet” and its depiction of internet discourse.
“‘Comet’ finished in a a little bit negative way that that was really Twitter-fueled,” Malloy claims. “And so I did have that practical experience of not fairly currently being canceled, but it was something unfolding on the world wide web. So yeah, there was absolutely an influence there.”
Bay Location audiences will at last get a taste of “Comet” when Shotgun produces it this November.
Malloy’s musicals have a tendency to be eclectic and musically omnivorous. “Octet” is a departure in staying completely a cappella, reflecting a multitude of models and influences.
“Honestly, it was rather frightening to create, just simply because it is the first time that I have created that I have penned some thing that is actually about the earth right now,” Malloy provides. “I have a tendency to do diversifications of matters that had been prepared 200 or much more yrs ago. So it did come to feel truly distinctive for me to be crafting about folks truly living in the 21st century.”
Contact Sam Hurwitt at [email protected], and follow him at Twitter.com/shurwitt.
By Dave Malloy, presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre
When: In previews April 20-27 key operate is April 27-May well 29
Wherever: Berkeley Rep’s Peet’s Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley
Health & basic safety: Proof of vaccination needed masks should be worn in the theater
Tickets: $29-$159 www.berkeleyrep.org