BERKELEY — California Shakespeare Theater opens its 2013 season on May 29 with “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José,” by Richard Montoya and developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney.

Directed by CalShakes artistic director Jonathan Moscone, the production will run through June 23 at the Bruns Amphitheater.

The 2010 world premiere of “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José” at Oregon Shakespeare Festival was the first show in the company’s history to be extended due to popular demand. The New York Times deemed the play (in its recent Yale Rep production), “a lovable hodgepodge of references, historical and pop-cultural, with a deadly serious message at its heart.”

Both funny and deep, “American Night” tells the story of Juan José, whose search for the American dream finds him anxiously exhausted on the night before taking his citizenship exam. José falls asleep and experiences a phantasmagoric 90-minute fever dream in which he travels throughout American history, meeting a wildly-drawn cast of iconic characters: Jackie Robinson, Teddy Roosevelt, Joan Baez, Abe Lincoln, and Sacajawea, to name a few.

Inspired by the inimitable Culture Clash style, this comedy marks Montoya’s return to the Bay Area, following close on the heels of the world premiere this April of his play The River at Intersection for the Arts + Campo Santo in San Francisco.

This cast of this fast-paced, surreal look at American history through the lens of the immigrant experience includes Campo Santo co-founder Sean San José in his CalShakes debut as the play’s title character.

Richard Montoya is a co-founder of the performance trio known as Culture Clash which began in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1984. The collective created plays large and small for national stages such as the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Seattle Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Goodman Theater, Yale Rep, Mark Taper Forum, the Public Theater, and the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, as well as La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley and the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

As a solo writer, Montoya has written “Water & Power” (Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Play of the Year 2007), “Palestine New Mexico,” “Anthems” and “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José.”

Last year, he wrote and directed the feature film “Water & Power.” He is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute’s Writers and Directors labs. He was a staff writer on the first season of “Southland” for NBC and is writing several new works for theaters across the country.

Subscriptions, flexpasses and single tickets for the 2013 season are available. Single tickets for ”American Night: The Ballad of Juan José” range from $35 to $72, with discounts available for seniors, students, military families, persons 30 and under, and groups.

For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard, or American Express, call the CalShakes Box Office at 510-548-9666. Additional information and online ticketing are available at


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