OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN Plays Aurora Theatre Company, 1/25-3/3

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Aurora Theatre Company continues its 21st season with the World Premiere of OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN from acclaimed playwright Anthony Clarvoe (Pick Up Ax, Show and Tell, Ambition Facing West). This family drama, which originated as one of Aurora Theatre Company's Global Age Project (GAP) finalists in 2011, is the third main stage production to develop from the GAP.

GAP director Allen McKelvey helms this six character play, featuring original GAP cast members Julia Brothers (The First Grade), Joy Carlin (Thérèse Raquin), and Anne Darragh (A Delicate Balance), reprising their roles for Aurora's main stage production, along with Blythe Foster, Lauren Spencer, and Adrienne Walters.

OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN plays January 25 through March 3 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($35-60) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.

In OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN, three generations of family gather over three holidays in a home none of them expects to long survive the rising sea. They do chores, text each other, and dance. They watch the birds, and watch each other, while struggling for loyalty, legacy, and turf. By the end, everything has shifted and a new generation is in charge, but of what? OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN addresses the changing tides of communication, gender roles, and society in a place where even the notions of home and family remain fluid.

OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN will be the fully-staged anchor production in this season's Global Age Project, an Aurora Theatre Company initiative that encourages playwrights and directors to explore life in the 21st century and beyond. This year's GAP finalists include: In From the Cold by Jonathan Spector; The Drinking Problem by Sarah Gubbins; Luce by J.C. Lee; and The Bandaged Place by Harrison David Rivers. The selected GAP plays will be presented as staged readings in a four-week festival at the Aurora Theatre, Mondays, February 4-25, 7:30pm. All GAP readings are free and open to the public.

In addition to OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN, playwright Anthony Clarvoe's works for the stage include Show and Tell (Thick House in San Francisco); Ambition Facing West (premiered at Trinity Repertory Company); Ghosts (translated from Ibsen, Intiman Theatre); The Brothers Karamazov (based on the Dostoevsky novel, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Living (Denver Center Theatre); Let's Play Two (South Coast Repertory); and Pick Up Ax (Eureka Theatre Company), among others. Additionally, his work has been produced or received commissions at Mark Taper Forum, Playwrights' Horizons, Signature Theatre, TheatreWorks, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others. His play Cello recently premiered as part of the Bay Area One Acts Festival, and his play Gizmo was part of Cutting Ball Theater's RISK IS THIS...festival in 2012.

Aurora Theatre Company has assembled a gifted ensemble for OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN. Julia Brothers returns to Aurora Theatre Company as Willa in OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN. Brothers previously appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's World Premiere of The First Grade and in the company's hit production of Salome. She has appeared in productions at the Magic Theatre (The Lily's Revenge), Marin Theatre Company (Seagull), TheatreWorks (Superior Donuts), San Jose Stage, and Brava Theater, in addition to numerous Off-Broadway productions. Recent Broadway credits include Relatively Speaking - Three One Act Comedies by Ethan Coen, Elaine May, Woody Allen. Additional credits include productions at Pacific Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company, where she appeared opposite Marlo Thomas in George Is Dead, written and directed by Elaine May. Her television credits include a recurring role on the NBC daytime drama Days of Our Lives.

Joy Carlin returns to the Aurora stage as Vera in OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN. In addition to appearing in Aurora Theatre Company's productions of The Belle of Amherst and Thérèse Raquin, Carlin directed the company's productions of Annie Baker's Body Awareness, Clifford Odet's Awake and Sing! and Bob Glaudini's Off-Broadway hit Jack Goes Boating, as well as productions of Terry Johnson's Hysteria, John Guare's Bosoms and Neglect, Arthur Miller's The Price, Conor McPherson's Dublin Carol, David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood, and Michael Frayn's Benefactors. Additionally, she has appeared in multiple stage roles at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and San Jose Repertory Theatre, among others, and is the recipient of numerous Bay Area Critics Circle Awards and Dramalogue Awards for both acting and directing. An original member of Chicago's Playwrights' Theatre, she has been a leading actress, director, and teacher in the Bay Area since 1969.

Also returning to Aurora Theatre Company is Anne Darragh as Sasha in OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN. Darragh most recently appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, the West Coast Premiere of The Busy World is Hushed, and Ibsen's The Master Builder. Additional regional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Brava Theater, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Encore Theatre Company, and Campo Santo, among others.

Rounding out the cast of OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN is Blythe Foster as Suze, Lauren Spencer as Magz, and Adrienne Walters as Leez. Foster's credits include productions at FoolsFURY, Bread and Puppet Theater, and the Playwrights' Center of San Francisco, as well as productions in New York. Spencer's credits include productions at Crowded Fire Theater, Boxcar Theatre, and Magic Theatre, among others. Walter's credits include productions at New Conservatory Theatre Center, City Lights Theater Company, and Custom Made Theatre Company, among others.

Director Allen McKelvey founded the AmeRican CitiZeNs' TheatRE, which garnered numerous Bay Area awards for excellence in directing, technical achievement, and performance under his artistic direction. Additional directing and design credits include productions at Encore Theatre Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, B Street Theatre in Sacramento, and the radio drama Path to the New Music for the American Baroque Ensemble.

Following OUR PRACTICAL HEAVEN, award-winning Bay Area auteur Mark Jackson returns to Aurora Theatre Company in April to put his spin on Alistair Beaton's new translation of Max Frisch's West End hit THE ARSONISTS. The season concludes in June with the Bay Area Premiere of Neil LaBute's searing dark comedy THIS IS HOW IT GOES, directed by Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross.

Nominated for 33 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for 2011, 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] lives up to its reputation as a theater that feeds the mind," and the Oakland Tribune stated "it's all about choices, and if you value good theater, choose the Aurora."

Pictured: Magz and Suze (front l-r, Lauren Spencer, Blythe Foster) bond on the beach while Vera (back l, Joy Carlin) and Leez (c, Adrienne Walters) look on in the World Premiere of Our Practical Heaven. Photo Credit: David Allen.

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