Aurora Theatre Company to Present WITTENBERG, 4/4-5/4

Aurora Theatre Company to Present WITTENBERG, 4/4-5/4

Aurora Theatre Company presents the Bay Area Premiere of WITTENBERG, David Davalos' audacious comedy about reason versus faith. Josh Costello (San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, Impact Theatre) directs this smarty-pants celebration of history, language, academia, and religion, featuring Dan Hiatt (The Arsonists), Elizabeth Carter (Trouble in Mind), Jeremy Kahn, and Michael Stevenson. WITTENBERG plays April 4 through May 4 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($32-60) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.

It is October 1517 and the beginning of another fall semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class of 1518), suffering from a sudden crisis of faith, has just returned from summer break with a revelation that threatens the very order of the universe. As the Prince who should be King laughably ping-pongs between the contrary advice of Martin Luther (Professor, theology) and Doctor John Faustus (Professor, philosophy), two of history's most stubborn intellectuals go head-to-head in comic combat for the conflicted Dane's allegiance. Will Faustus, the philosopher with a lust for life, win the confused young man's mind, or can Luther, the cleric who ignited the Protestant Reformation, win his soul?

WITTENBERG premiered at the Arden Theatre in 2008 and is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. The New York Times dubbed the play "crackling good...Hilarity, thy name is WITTENBERG," while the Philadelphia Inquirer praised "Finally - a decent Protestant Reformation comedy!" The New York Post called WITTENBERG "...a delightful romp that's as accessible as it is thought-provoking. Tom Stoppard, eat your heart out." Playwright David Davalos was inspired to write WITTENBERG while playing the part of Rosencrantz in the Utah Shakespearean Festival's production of Hamlet. During his acting days, Davalos wrote several parodies of Shakespeare's plays and credits his playwriting style to Tom Stoppard and "the Travesties school of interesting juxtaposition of historical characters."

Aurora Theatre Company has assembled a gifted ensemble of Aurora veterans and newcomers for WITTENBERG. Bay Area favorite Dan Hiatt, who appeared last season in Aurora's hit production of The Arsonists, returns as Martin Luther in WITTENBERG. Recent credits include 1776 at American Conservatory Theater, Major Barbara at American Conservatory Theater and Theatre Calgary, and Romeo & Juliet at California Shakespeare Theater. Additional credits include productions at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and Pasadena Playhouse, among others. A veteran of the Aurora stage, Hiatt performed during the company's inaugural Addison Street season in Knock Knock.

Elizabeth Carter returns to Aurora Theatre Company in multiple roles as The Eternal Feminine in WITTENBERG; she last appeared at Aurora in the company's hit production of Trouble In Mind. Additional credits include productions at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Word for Word, and San Jose Stage, among others. She teaches Shakespeare performance at San Francisco School of the Arts.

Jeremy Kahn makes his Aurora Theatre Company debut as Hamlet in WITTENBERG. Credits include productions at Magic Theatre (Another Way Home), San Francisco Playhouse (Kimberly Akimbo, The Fantasticks, Tigers Be Still), Center Repertory Company (The Storytelling Ability of a Boy), and San Diego Repertory Theatre (Tortilla Curtain), among others. Additional credits include productions at the New York International Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Chicago Playworks. He has participated in the development of new plays at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Crowded Fire, and PlayGround.

Also making his Aurora Theatre Company debut is Michael Stevenson as Faustus. Credits include productions at Capital Stage Company (In The Next Room), B Street Theatre (Bob, What the Butler Saw), 42nd Street Moon (Zorba!), Sacramento Theater Company, Sacramento Opera, California Musical Theatre, and Utah Shakespearean Festival, among others. He is co-director of the B Street Theatre Conservatory and a member of the B Street Theatre Acting Company.

Josh Costello makes his Aurora Theatre Company main-stage directing debut with WITTENBERG. Recent directing credits include his adaptation of Little Brother by Cory Doctorow for Custom Made Theatre Company, Ideation by Aaron Loeb and Reborning by Zayd Dohrn at San Francisco Playhouse, and Toil and Trouble by Lauren Gunderson at Impact Theatre (all World Premieres). As the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs at Marin Theatre Company, Costello directed My Children! My Africa!, the Bay Area premiere of Lovers & Executioners, and several touring productions for children. Additional directing credits include productions at Magic Theatre (House of Lucky), The Crucible (Romeo and Juliet: A Fire Ballet), and Shakespeare-by-the-Sea in Los Angeles (Hamlet); his adaptation of The Rover for The Chance Theater in Orange County aired as a live television broadcast on the Los Angeles and Orange County PBS affiliate. The founder and first Artistic Director of Impact Theatre, Costello has been a faculty member at California Shakespeare Theater, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, UC Riverside, Cal State Long Beach, South Coast Repertory, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood. Costello is the Literary Manager at Aurora Theatre Company.

Writer, actor, and director David Davalos was born in Auburn, Alabama in 1965, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated with a BFA in Theatre from the University of Texas at Austin. Craving more exploration into his craft, he continued his theater arts training in acting at Ohio University, receiving his MFA in 1991; the next 15 years were spent as an actor based in New York City. His acting credits include Master Harold...And the Boys at the Cleveland Playhouse, Hamlet at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and Seascape at the Public Theater in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to WITTENBERG (2008), Davalos' first two full-length plays, Darkfall (1999), a modern sequel to Paradise Lost, and Daedalus (2001), a fictionalization of Leonardo Da Vinci's time as a military architect for Cesare Borgia, explore historical landscapes. Other works for the stage include Willie the Slick, Richard the Thug, Orenthello, Shrewy and the Bandit, and The Tragedie of Johnnius Caerson; Davalos' next play is a contemporary look at Dante's Divine Comedy.

Following WITTENBERG, Aurora Theatre Company's season concludes in June with David Mamet's searing drama AMERICAN BUFFALO, directed by Barbara Damashek. As a special addition to the season, Aurora Theatre Company presents its first fully-staged production in the company's new second stage performance space, Harry's UpStage; award-winning Bay Area auteur Mark Jackson directs this sixth addition to the season in April, John W. Lowell's taut two-person drama THE LETTERS.

Voted Best Theater Company in 2012 by SF Weekly, Aurora Theatre Company continues to offer challenging, literate, intelligent stage works to the Bay Area, each year increasing its reputation for top-notch theater. Located in the heart of the Downtown Berkeley Arts District, Aurora Theatre Company, declared "one of the best regional theaters around" by 7x7 magazine, has been called "one of the most important regional theaters in the area" and "a must-see midsize company" by the San Francisco Chronicle, while The Wall Street Journal has "nothing but praise for the Aurora." The Contra Costa Times stated "perfection is probably an unattainable ideal in a medium as fluid as live performance, but the Aurora Theatre comes luminously close," while the San Jose Mercury News affirmed Aurora Theatre Company is "arguably the finest small theater in the Bay Area," and the Oakland Tribune stated "it's all about choices, and if you value good theater, choose the Aurora."
FOR CALENDAR EDITORS:

Aurora Theatre Company presents the Bay Area Premiere of WITTENBERG, David Davalos' audacious comedy about reason versus faith. It is October 1517 and the beginning of another fall semester at the University of Wittenberg finds certain members of the faculty and student body at personal and professional crossroads. Hamlet (senior, class of 1518), suffering from a sudden crisis of faith, has just returned from summer break with a revelation that threatens the very order of the universe. As the Prince who should be King laughably ping-pongs between the contrary advice of Martin Luther (Professor, theology) and Doctor John Faustus (Professor, philosophy), two of history's most stubborn intellectuals go head-to-head in comic combat for the conflicted Dane's allegiance. Will Faustus, the philosopher with a lust for life, win the confused young man's mind, or can Luther, the cleric who ignited the Protestant Reformation, win his soul? Josh Costello (San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, Impact Theatre) directs this smarty-pants celebration of history, language, academia, and religion, featuring Dan Hiatt (The Arsonists), Elizabeth Carter (Trouble in Mind), Jeremy Kahn, and Michael Stevenson.

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