"Diversity: A catch word for the 90's." Yeah, yeah whatever. But what about the person? Vanessa Green is a young woman, of mixed heritage, living in Bohemia - a town like any other. Vanessa has her dysfunctional family. She has her eclectic friends. She has her cool job. Vanessa's only trouble is, that even in a town as "diverse" as Bohemia, there is still division.
Stage Manager Shannon Zura
Set & Lighting Designer Joe Koroly
Sound Designer Raelle Myrick-Hodges
Costume Designer Nora Berger-Green
Jessica Graham ...Sarah
Amanda Schoonover ..Vanessa
Catherine Mary Moroney .. Alison
Donovan Hagins .Micah
Mark H. Andrews ...Tristan
W. Shay Hammond .Bennett
and featuring Julie Funderburk
Berkeley, California - latitude 37 degrees, 52 minutes, longitude 122 degrees, 16 minutes - is squished between Oakland and San Francisco. As the realistic location of Trouble with Bohemia, Berkeley grounds the plays events in the history of American social trends. In our national consciousness, Berkeley is the home of the University of California, the grocery co-op, left wing politics, coffee shops, marijuana cultivators and a vibrant, integrated, tolerant community.
Previous to the impact of social reform, however, Berkeley's polarized communities created a clearly divided society. The white middle and upper class community, led by a conservative city government, dominated the area. The radical demographic changed with World War II, when the federal government constructed a large public housing project in Berkeley for war workers, including many blacks from the South. The dramatic influx in the black population produced a source of opposition to the prevailing conservative power. A "bohemia" that developed around Telegraph Avenue, the center of Berkeley, strengthened this opposition. Students, writers, jazz musicians, stragglers, and children of the dominant middle class unified the interest of the black population and the bohemians. Both communities, fueled by the hypocrisy of American ideals of freedom and rights, rejected the realities of McCarthyism and racial prejudice.
Social reform and racial integration fused together the polarized communities of Berkeley, and as a result, the alternative lifestyle has become a middle class value. The lifestyle and attitudes of the beats and the hippies, the first two waves of bohemians in Berkeley, is more of the standard today.
An interest in Albert Camus or the appreciation of jazz music is not perceived as treacherous or elitist, neither are they qualities that would make any of the characters of Trouble with Bohemia seem radical or separate. Like Camus and jazz music, pot smoking in Berkeley, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and even the upper class town of Tiburon, has lost its taboo.
The policy of diversity is also more of the standard today. As a racially integrated community, Trouble with Bohemia describes a trend that moves beyond the confines of Berkeley. Race related issues have moved from the outright hypocrisy of the 50's and 60's to a more internalized conflict, transforming the revolutionary chant of "I have a dream: into it's own antithesis of "Who cares".
The town of Bohemia, California, offers an integrated, tolerant community by its name alone - but it must compete with the subtle questions of racial identity and its value. As the characters of Trouble with Bohemia discover the value of "eclectic idealism" which binds them together, it is also the only thing that can pull them apart.
- Dramaturgical notes by Tatiana Pollard
Sources: Berkeley at War, W.J. Rorabough; Omi Gazette of the US, editor Frank Abate; The American Heritage Encyclopedia of American History, editor Mack Faraghen.
Tatiana Pollard is a Philadelphia based writer who graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1998. Trouble with Bohemia was her debut as both Assistant Director and Dramaturg. She looks forward to future collaborative work in theatre. Much thanks to her family, Raelle and Azuka Theatre Collective for this opportunity.