Buffalo Theatre Ensemble to Round Out 2016-17 Season with Alan Ayckbourn's IMPROBABLE FICTION

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble (BTE) rounds out its 2016-2017 "Year of the Phoenix" Season in the McAninch Arts Center's intimate Playhouse Theatre with Alan Ayckbourn's "Improbable Fiction," directed by BTE ensemble member, Bryan Burke,* May 4-June 4. There will be a preview performance on Thursday, May 4 at 8 p.m.; press opening is Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m. Performances run through Sunday, June 4.

The plot of this hilarious comedy revolves around an amateur writing group in rural England, The Pendon Writers' Circle, led by Chairman Arnold Hassock. The members writing interests are all different-from Victorian romance to detective fiction to sci-fi and even musical adaptation, but all members share a common trait...none are actually able to get their ideas down on paper. On a dark and stormy night we find the group's meeting in the throes of a clash of personalities. In the middle of the meeting Ilsa, the caregiver for Arnold's mother, enters the room to serve tea and soon becomes the subject of creative conjecture by the members. Ilsa leaves, the meeting wraps up with the chair encouraging them to "just write something" as members depart. Arnold goes searching for Ilsa just as the lights fail with a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder. When the power returns, their world is inexplicably altered as is Ilsa, Arnold and the members of the writing circle find themselves witnessing and participating in the realization of all of the writing circle members pent up inspirations. As the individual stories unfold and are resolved in the second act we, the audience, are left thinking:" If this were played upon a stage now I would condemn it as an improbable fiction" ("Twelfth Night," Act 3 Scene 4).

Observed the Yorkshire Evening Press " ... the style of each writer overlap, giving Ayckbourn the chance to send up Jane Austen, Dorothy L Sayers and The Matrix," and the U.K. Guardian gives it "4-Stars." "Improbable Fiction" officially opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on May 31, 2005. The production toured in 2006 and the play had its American premiere on 1 May, 2009, at the Black River Playhouse, Chester, New Jersey.

Chicagoan and BTE Ensemble member Robert Jordan Bailey* is featured in the role of Arnold Hassock. Other members of the cast include Plano's Becca Morello (Ilsa Wolby), La Grange's Laura Leonardo Ownby (Jess Bales), Lombard's Denise Blank (Grace Sims), Chicago's Conor Burke (Clem Pepp) and Rebecca Cox (Vivi Dickens) and Arlington Heights' Gary Simmers (Brevis Winterton).

The design team includes Glen Ellyn's Bryan Burke* (director), Creston, IA Galen Ramsey* (scenic, sound and properties design), Charlotte, NC Allison Greaves Amidei* (costume, hair, make-up design), and Glen Ellyn's Jon Gantt* (lighting design). Stage manager is Chicago's Bula Bulicek.

Ayckbourn is an Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright who has written 81 plays, many of which have been produced in London's West End as well as around the world. As an acclaimed director, he has worked extensively in the West End and has also run his own company at the National Theatre. Between 1972 and 2009, he was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, where the majority of his work has been premiered. In recent years, he has been inducted into American Theatre's Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts. He was knighted in 1997 for services to theater.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents Alan Ayckbourn's "Improbable Fiction" in The Playhouse Theatre of the McAninch Arts Center, located at 425 Fawell Blvd. on the campus of College of DuPage May 4-June 4, 2017. There will be a preview performance on Thursday, May 4; press opening is Friday, May 5. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $35. For tickets or more information visit or call 630.942.4000.

BTE Company members and visiting artists are a vital part of both the college's educational mission and the fabric of the community through programming that includes producing a three-show season beginning with the 2016-2017 season, creating master classes for students, presenting demonstrations of theater arts, hosting performance talk backs and subscriber nights, and participating in community outreach.

Since 1986 BTE has staged more than 110 shows. In 2013, BTE went on hiatus, following the College of DuPage's decision to not house BTE. This past April, following a strong more than two year campaign by BTE supporters, the COD board reconsidered and BTE has returned for its 30th anniversary season as a 501(c)3 theatre. For more information about BTE visit

BTE would like to thank the DuPage Foundation for their generous support in the reinstatement and continued operation of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble in its 30th anniversary season.

BTE also thanks the Norm Woodel Inspiration Fund for its assistance in the rebirth and further development of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble.

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