Most Masterful Theater Director

Les Waters, Berkeley Rep

Waters is an intensely visual director. Before he joined the Rep’s artistic staff, he made a guest appearance to direct the hectic, wonderful Big Love, with men tossing saw blades, women throwing themselves in great billowing white clouds of wedding dresses at the bright-pink wrestling mats padding the stage, and one actor climbing up the proscenium like a monkey. Even if Waters has reused some of this silliness in recent productions, it was so charming watching Danny Scheie climb the arch in Fêtes and squeaking “You lookin’ at me?” that it’s hard to stay jaded. If you get caught up in the fluff around something like Big Love or Fêtes de la Nuit, or you’re horrified by either a little nudity or people smoking cigarettes onstage, it’s hard to see that Waters has range. But while Fêtes was pure spun sugar, Eurydice was deep, intelligent, and sweetly wrenching. Not only did Waters get great performances from his actors, he worked with his designers to create a lyrical, unforgettable space to frame the story, full of haunting sounds and images. We’re lucky to have him on staff now at the Rep.

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