Berkeley Rep play aids real-life rescue effort

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Yellowjackets, a drama about Berkeley High School’s student newspaper, The Jacket, had some real-life consequences. Audiences raised more than $6,600 to help rescue the flailing publication. Ben Freeman (left) and Kevin Hsieh were part of the just-closed show’s young cast. Photo by


Sadly, it’s no secret that newspaper industry in this country is in a freefall.

But the crisis in print journalism has ripple effects that extend even into the world of high school newspapers.

The teenage staff of The Jacket, the Berkeley High School newspaper and the subject of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s just-closed hit show Yellowjackets, recently announced that the paper was in danger of going under because of “mounting financial challenges.”

As the play Yellowjackets by Berkeley High alum and former Jacket editor Itamar Moses, neared the end of its run, Berkeley Rep made appeals to audience members, who raised $6,688.81 to provide a student journalism bailout and ensure the 50-year-old paper survives.

“We’re so proud of our patrons and so glad we could be of help to local teens,” says Susan Medak, Berkeley Rep’s managing director. “After each performance of the show, the audience was encouraged to help save The Jacket through old-fashioned civic engagement: by putting donations in a coffee can on their way out of the theater. People responded with tremendous generosity. They contributed more than $6,000 – enough to keep the paper alive for at least another year.”

In other Berkeley Rep young people news, for local kids have been cast in the company’s next show, August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, running Oct. 31 through Dec. 14 in the Roda Theatre.

Director Delroy Lindo, returning to the show that earned him a Tony nomination on Broadway, says of his young actors: “The children in this show represent the future. They are the next generation in the evolution of people of African descent on this continent. They have critical scenes in this story, and I look forward to exploring them with these talented young actors.”

The lucky actors are:

  • 12-year-old Keanu Beausier of Oakland.
  • 10-year-old Inglish Amore Hills of Pleasanton
  • 11-year-old Victor McElhaney of Oakland.
  • 10-year-old Nia Renee Warren of Oakland.


For information about Berkeley Repertory Theatre visit

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