Party People

Party People
By UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, and William Ruiz, aka Ninja) Directed/Developed by Liesl Tommy

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

Party People is a high-energy, infectious mix of theatre, poetry, jazz, blues, hip-hop, boleros and salsa as UNIVERSES digs into the story and legacy of an American revolution. Four decades ago, the Black Panthers and Puerto Rican Young Lords were young activists providing food and health care in their impoverished communities while in a desperate struggle to survive the systematic dismantling of their movements. Now they are 60-somethings untangling a traumatic past and an unclear future. In ensemble, OSF actors and UNIVERSES toggle between then and now in this meticulously researched, compelling work of fiction.

Berkeley Rep. Production photos by

_________________ follow-me-on-pinterest-button _________________

The Story: An opening at an art gallery of works inspired by the 1960s and ’70s activities of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords presents a unique opportunity for members of both groups to gather and reflect on the past and present. As those from younger generations confront party members, they wrestle with how the ideals of yesterday are reflected in the present. Old lovers reconnect, and friends who haven’t talked in 25 to 30 years reunite. Meanwhile, former frenemies—and informants, too—meet and catch up. As the evening proceeds, however, certain facts that were taken as truths come into question. Songs and poetic monologues flare up to reveal the inner thoughts of party leaders as well as rank and file who had contributed to the party’s cause. By evening’s end, history does not seem as black and white as it sometimes reads in history books.

Party People was originally commissioned as part of the American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Original version premiered at OSF July 3, 2012-November 3, 2013 - OSF.
New Theatre.
Party People has been redeveloped/reimagined in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's ground Floor,
for it's New World Premier at Berkeley Rep's Thrust Theatre - October 24th, 2014-November 23rd, 2014.

“These deeply gifted artists bring new perspectives and artistic styles to the Cycle and continue to deepen this portrait of our nation" -- Alison Carey, OSF

“As intellectually stimulating as its fluid, nonstop action is overwhelming…Fast, confrontational, reflective by turns, and packed with music and dance as propulsive as the years when the groups were spawned…Volatile, fiery choreography and spirit-moving blues, jazz, work-song and Latino songs…Showstopping numbers…A well-deserved, prolonged standing ovation…Power to the people, indeed!”—San Francisco Chronicle

“As relevant and as thought-provoking as it is, Party People is also mightily entertaining…From the extraordinary opening musical number that creates historical context for this intertwining story of the Panthers and the Lords, we become caught up in the flow of revolutionary zeal…The audience was instantly on its collective feet at show’s end, applauding thunderously, shouting and hooting.”—Theater Dogs

“People can (and should) debate how Party People stands as a political statement, but as a piece of theater it’s a crusher. Maybe it’s all too much for Oregon, but the Berkeley crowd ate it up. And why shouldn’t they? The show is good for: Revolutionaries, bystanders and regretful sellouts alike. The show is not good for: The Man.”—Edge San Francisco

“This play is extraordinarily valuable, it’s crucial to an understanding of that turbulent time…Let me tell you, I was there, and this play captures us. It captures the coalition of black and brown young people trying to make change and fighting the repression that came down against us.”—Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers with Huey P. Newton

“High-energy, vibrant, roller coaster ride—via dialogue, monologue, poetry, music and dance—of the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, two minority-based revolutionary groups of the 1960s and 1970s.”—Ashland Daily Tidings

“Thrilling…A relentlessly kinetic musical memoir about the ambitions and regrets of 1960s revolutionaries…Powerful and raw…Millicent Johnnie’s choreography is haunting, evoking complicated themes with simple movements. The music, which incorporates salsa, hip-hop, gospel and blues, is flat-out hypnotic…Let the production wash over you like a jagged theatrical collage, [and] Party People will leave its mark on you.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

“This show is all about feeling and, more generally, humanity…Takes the standard musical formula and completely rips it up, unceremonious shreds it to pieces, and thankfully refuses to acknowledge the restrictions of standard theater convention. And thank our lucky stars for that. This is pure adrenaline.”—Stark Insider

“You’re in for an exhilarating evening…Under the direction of Liesl Tommy, the evening’s insistent and infectious music, including the hip-hop (of which I confess, I am not a fan), the choreography, scenic and lighting design, camera projection and general stage craft are all original and all first rate. The talented actors make the topnotch writing come alive. Party People has outstanding visceral, emotional and intellectual impact. That’s very rare in one piece of theater.”—Berkeleyside

“A dazzling creation by the New York-based theatre collective known as UNIVERSES…Party People is an artful mixture of spoken poetry, hip-hop theatre, blues, jazz, gospel and rap. Mesmerizing monologues punctuate this well-balanced theatrical potpourri.”—KLCC Radio Eugene

  • stacks_image_2200stacks_image_2201
  • stacks_image_2202stacks_image_2069stacks_image_2110
  • stacks_image_2113
  • stacks_image_2116stacks_image_2065
Berkeley Rep Building Art Work provided by The Oakland Museum.

  • stacks_image_2122
  • stacks_image_2078
  • stacks_image_2083
  • stacks_image_2090
© 2015 MRS Contact Me