How To Write a New Book for the Bible

How To Write a New Book for the Bible

By Bill Cain

Directed by Kent Nicholson

Originally produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre Berkeley,CA .

October 7, 2011 through November 20, 2011

About the Premiere Production:
Every family creates a sacred story out of love. In Bill Cain’s poignant new play, a man moves in with his mother when she becomes too frail to care for herself. Their reunion heals old wounds, opening a heartfelt and humorous new chapter in their relationship. From the award-winning author of Equivocation and 9 Circles, this timeless tale celebrates a mother’s love and a son’s devotion. Respected director Kent Nicholson comes back to the Bay Area for the world premiere of How to Write a New Book for the Bible.

Artistic Statement: Several months ago we put in a call to Bill Cain, the author of this play, with a question about publicity. How did he want to advertise the play? We knew that the text was based on his real-life experience, but we didn’t want to make any assumptions about Bill’s desire for transparency. Writers, as you might expect, vary widely in their choices about how much information about themselves they want to publicly disclose.

Bill’s answer was surprisingly disarming. “Given the names of the characters,” he said, “I think we should embrace the autobiographical nature of the play.” He sounded both resigned and excited. “The easiest way to approach this is to say that the play is based on an unpublished book I wrote from my diary of the same title as the play. It’s a ritual made from the events of an actual person’s passing.”

The key word is “ritual.” Mr. Cain was able to craft a script that that re-imagines the events surrounding the death of his mother. The diary-based nature of the material lends authenticity to the play, but his intention as an artist goes beyond the recording of his own experience. He sought some kind of release from the personal pain of his ordeal, some kind of communion with others who had gone through similar trials. He needed to feel a deeper sense of compassion. First for himself. Then for his characters and their considerable suffering. Ultimately, what he discovered was joy — the mysterious joy that comes from the singular act of creation, and the beneficent joy that is contained in the heart of every profound loss.

By doing so, Bill taps into one of the essential functions of theatre: to re-visit a difficult experience through the protective lens of an imagined story. And in this delicate, beautiful play, he has managed to do just that. Through his honesty and artistry, he allows us to be transported into the imagined world of his family, a world so recognizable that it connects us to our own families. And he does it with humor. With sadness. And with joy.

Kent Nicholson, a long-time collaborator of the author, returns to the Bay Area to make his directorial debut at Berkeley Rep. We welcome him and his entire creative team to our theatre, our staff, and to you, our extended family. Enjoy.

-Tony Taccone

Grant Statement:
Managing Director Susan Medak says, “Berkeley Rep prides itself on the range of resources the Theatre allocates to support the world premiere of new works. The one component we have the least control over, however, is time. Time for the playwright to generate rewrites, time for the director and actors to work through revised scripts, and -- especially with a play like How to Write a New Book for the Bible -- time for Bill Cain to help his performers and directors understand the nuances of a play that contains so much autobiographical content. We therefore asked the Edgerton Foundation to consider a grant to support one additional week of rehearsal time, and we are grateful that this will allow us to do so during the continued development of this script.”

Director: Kent Nicholson

Set Design: Scott Bradley

Lighting Design: Alexander V Nichols

Sound Design: Matt Starritt

Costume Design: Callie Floor

Cast: Starring Aaron Blakely (Paul), Linda Gehringer (Mary), Leo Marks (Pete), and Tyler Pierce (Bill)




A Jesuit playwright explores his family's faith

Washington City Paper

April 26, 2013

South Coast Rep's Bible of Life

OC Weekly

November 15, 2012


Bitter Lemons

November 9, 2012

How to Write a New Book for the Bible

Los Alamitos SealBeach-Patch

October 30, 2012


Stage Scene L.A.

October 30, 2012

How to Write a New Book for the Bible


October 30, 2012

Review: 'New Book for the Bible' struggles toward resonance

Los Angeles Times

October 29, 2012

Death comes slowly, very slowly, in Bill Cain's play at SCR

The Orange County Register

October 27, 2012

Art imitates life and death for playwright, actress

The Orange County Register

October 24, 2012


Daily Pilot

October 22, 2012


South Coast Repertory

October 20, 2012


Daily Pilot

October 11, 2012

September 19, 2012


Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau

August 26, 2012


Round House Theatre's new artistic director swaps out two shows for the coming season

The Washington Post

August 16, 2012


How to Write a New Book for the Bible review

San Francisco Chronicle

October 14, 2011


Review: 'How to Write A New Book for the Bible' at Berkeley Rep

San Jose Mercury News

October 13, 2011


Grace, God and family in Berkeley Rep’s brilliant Bible

Theatre Dogs

October 13, 2011


How to Write a New Book for the Bible at Berkeley Rep


October 13, 2011


Cain's 'Bible' sees God in family tale's details

San Francisco Chronicle

October 6, 2011

Subsequent Productions:

South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA October 19, 2012 - November 18, 2012

Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD April 10, 2013 - May 5, 2013

People's Light  in Malvern, PA June 3, 2015 - June 28, 2015

Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle, WA January 13, 2012 - February 5, 2012 (Co-production with Berekely Rep)

Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee, WI April 4, 2019 - April 28, 2019

Taproot Theatre Company in Seattle, WA March 20, 2024 - April 20, 2024