ABOUT JESSE BERGER, FOUNDER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Since founding Red Bull Theater in 2003, Jesse Berger has directed productions of Pericles, The Revenger’s Tragedy, Edward the Second, Women Beware Women, The Duchess of Malfi, The Witch of Edmonton, The Maids, Volpone, Loot, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Changeling, and The Government Inspector for the company. Jesse’s adaptations of The Revenger’s Tragedy and Women Beware Women are published by Dramatists Play Service. Red Bull Theater produces a variety of classical and contemporary work under Jesse’s leadership, including the OBIE Award-Winning Revelation Reading Series, free Bull Session discussions, Shakespeare in Schools education outreach, Master Classes in classical acting, Developmental Workshops, and the annual Short New Play Festival. Jesse has also directed in New York and across the country at such theaters as Denver Center Theatre Company (Richard III), The Old Globe (Othello), Pittsburgh Public Theatre (The Laramie Project, I Am My Own Wife, Life X 3, A Number, Circle Mirror Transformation, An Iliad, Venus in Fur), PlayMakers Repertory (An Iliad), Barrington Stage (Sleuth, Absurd Person Singular), New York Theater Workshop's Larson Lab, SoHo Rep, Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab at Here, Theaterworks/USA, The Pearl Theatre, Urban Stages, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Dorset Theatre Festival, Theatre J, the Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Hamptons, and St. Louis Shakespeare Festivals, the Asolo Theatre Company, Washington Shakespeare Company (Marat/Sade), among others. He has also directed and helped develop new plays at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and the Playwright’s Center. Jesse received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Direction of Marat/Sade, and he has been thrice-nominated for the SDC Joe A. Callaway Award for excellence in directing productions at Red Bull Theater: for The Government Inspector, The Witch of Edmonton, and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. His production of The Maids was nominated as Outstanding Revival by both the Drama League and Lucille Lortel Awards. Jesse received a 2018 OBIE Award for Outstanding Direction of The Government Inspector.
Jesse was Assistant Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC for three seasons working with Michael Kahn, Joanne Akalaitis, Patrick Stewart, Garland Wright and others on over 20 productions, as well as remounting productions of King Lear and Merry Wives of Windsor for the Shakespeare Theatre Company at the 4,000-seat outdoor Carter Barron Amphitheater. Jesse assistant directed the 2000 Broadway revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, and was the 1999 US Directing Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, where he assisted Tim Carroll and Mark Rylance. Jesse began his professional career as an apprentice to Garland Wright at The Guthrie Theater on his production of The Sea Gull, and was assistant director for his productions of The Tempest, Old Times, Babes in Arms, and King Lear.
Jesse has taught and directed at the Juilliard School of Drama, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University, the Shakespeare Theatre Academy for Classical Acting, University of Texas-Austin, the Guthrie Theater/University of Minnesota, Bard College, New School/Lang College, Virginia Commonwealth University, Michael Howard Studios, the American Academy of Dramatic Art, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Jesse trained at Central College in London and Southern Utah University, home of the Utah Shakespearean Festival. A recipient of the NEA/TCG Directors grant and a nominee for the Alan Schneider Award, Jesse is a member of Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, the Society of Directors and Choreographers, and New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects. Jesse also sits on the National Advisory Board of Southern Utah University College of Performing and Visual Arts, and the Drama League Directors Project's National Advisory Council.
IN THE NEWS
INTERVIEWS | MAY/JUNE 2020
His Red Bull Theater puts its emphasis on the language in both its core texts and beyond.
By WENDY SMITH
"When John Douglas Thompson first heard that Jesse Berger intended to start a theatre company dedicated to Jacobean drama, the actor recalls, “I thought, C’mon, man: You’re going to last as long as your first production!”
On the contrary, 17 years after Berger founded RED BULL THEATERwith a credit card and three friends to sign the 501(c)(3) paperwork, the New York City company boasts a formidable track record of 20 full productions and 150-plus staged readings in its Obie-winning Revelation Readings series. Named for a Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull has built a well-deserved reputation as a fearless interpreter of seldom-seen classics. From Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside in 2003 to John Webster’s The White Devil in 2019, it has given the Jacobeans a contemporary edge without scanting their 17th-century particulars—indeed, the Jacobeans’ cynical take on a corrupt society plays very well in the 21st century. The company draws on a cadre of committed actors who speak the tricky verse in an assured, unfussy fashion that might be called the Red Bull house style...."