8 p.m. Wednesday: Best Place for a Daring Opening Night 

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

On the other hand, we'll be glad to send you to the Berkeley Rep. Like too many arts organizations, the Rep has been hit hard by recent world events and a faltering economy. But unlike companies that are battening down the hatches by choosing more familiar, less risky plays, this one is plowing ahead with its thought-provoking work. The just-announced 2003-'04 season includes a world premiere: David Edgar's two-play cycle Continental Divide. There's also Mary Zimmerman's Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci; the intense Yellowman; the campily Gothic The Mystery of Irma Vep; and Rita Moreno's Rep debut in Terrence McNally's Master Class, directed by the Tectonic Theater Project's Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project). The Rep has also brought on director Les Waters as associate artistic director, which should stir the pot -- his previous shows for the Rep (Suddenly Last Summer, Big Love) were visually and viscerally exciting. Scoring tickets for the Rep's opening night gives you the best shot at seeing actors from other shows holding court in the lobby at intermission, and the hors d'oeuvres afterward aren't too shabby either.

Readers' Pick for Best Professional Theater Company: Berkeley Rep

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