Aurora Theatre Company Presents A DELICATE BALANCE, 9/2-10/9
Aurora Theatre Company proudly opens its 20th anniversary season with renowned American playwright Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning brutal comedy of manners A DELICATE BALANCE. Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross helms a remarkable cast for A DELICATE BALANCE, including Aurora co-founder Ken Grantham and the company's first leading lady (Candida), Kimberly King. Jamie Jones makes her Aurora Theatre Company debut and Bay Area favorites Anne Darragh, Charles Dean, and Carrie Paff return to the Aurora stage, rounding out this spectacular ensemble. A DELICATE BALANCE plays September 2 through October 9 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($10-55) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.
Tobias and Agnes are a long-married couple living in the suburbs. With several bedrooms and a well-stocked liquor cabinet, their home provides a refuge of sorts, and a measure of comfort, to their friends and family. Over the course of two evenings however, the "delicate balance" of their uneasy existence begins to topple. Agnes' alcoholic sister, Claire, has already set up camp, and when their adult daughter comes home after her fourth failed marriage, and lifelong friends Harry and Edna arrive on their doorstep, frightened and seeking sanctuary from an unnamed terror, the many well-mannered and well-masked feelings finally erupt. A DELICATE BALANCE is a sharp, witty examination on the limits of our responsibility to others, including family and friends, how hard it is to hold everything together, and how easily everything can all fall apart.
A DELICATE BALANCE premiered on Broadway in 1966 with a cast featuring Hume Cronyn as Tobias and Jessica Tandy as Agnes. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1967, the first of three Pulitzer's Albee received for his work, and received the 1996 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. Called "glorious...profoundly touching" by The New York Times in 2010, Variety also declared, " ‘A Delicate Balance' still retains its potency after 40 years...High class or low, there's surely a family on every block in which familiarity breeds contempt."
Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross helms A DELICATE BALANCE. Ross inaugurated Aurora Theatre Company with Barbara Oliver in 1992. He has directed 21 productions for the company, including last season's acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, the World Premiere of The First Grade, the critically-acclaimed production of Gore Vidal's The Best Man, Mae West's SEX, The Birthday Party, Marius, Blue/Orange, Betrayal, and Lobby Hero, which went on to be presented as a co-production between Aurora Theatre Company, Jonathan Reinis, Inc., and the Napa Valley Opera House. For Aurora Theatre Company, Ross has also directed acclaimed productions of The Shape of Things, The Entertainer, The Weir, Death Defying Acts, Abigail's Party, The Mystery of Irma Vep (co-directed with Danny Scheie), and The Aspern Papers, among others. He also wrote and directed A Karen Carpenter Christmas in both San Francisco and Seattle. Prior to coming to the Bay Area, he worked for eight years at The Public Theater in New York as Executive Assistant to Joseph Papp and as co-Director of Play and Musical Development. While in New York, Ross also penned the book adaptation of the New York Drama Desk nominated musical Up Against It, based on Joe Orton's screenplay for The Beatles.
Aurora Theatre Company has assembled an extraordinary cast for A DELICATE BALANCE. Ken Grantham, who co-founded Aurora Theatre Company with Barbara Oliver, Dorothy Bryant, Marge Glicksman, and Richard Rossi in 1992, returns to the company as Tobias in A DELICATE BALANCE. A veteran television and film actor, for Aurora Grantham appeared in Intimate Exchanges and Dear Master; additional stage credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Eureka Theatre, Hartford Stage, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, among others. Kimberly King, Aurora Theatre Company's first leading lady (Candida, Intimate Exchanges), returns as Agnes, Tobias' wife, in A DELICATE BALANCE. King's credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, South Coast Repertory, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, and McCarter Theatre, among others.Also returning to the Aurora Theatre Company stage in A DELICATE BALANCE are Charles Dean and Anne Darragh as Agnes and Tobias' friends Harry and Edna. Dean most recently appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's acclaimed production of The Eccentricities of a Nightingale; he previously appeared in the company's productions of Awake and Sing!, The Best Man, Hysteria, Private Jokes, Public Places, The Price, The Entertainer, and The Philanderer. A company member and Associate Artist at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for over 20 years, Dean has acted in more than 80 productions and has performed at American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Old Globe Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, and Magic Theatre, among others; he made his Broadway debut in 2008 in Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Darragh appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's West Coast Premiere of The Busy World is Hushed, and 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 ensemble are Jamie Jones and Carrie Paff. Jones makes her Aurora stage debut as Agnes' alcoholic sister Claire in A DELICATE BALANCE. Regional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, B Street Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Encore Theatre Company, and Sacramento Theatre Company, among others. Paff returns to Aurora Theatre Company as Agnes and Tobias' daughter Julia; she was last seen at Aurora in the World Premiere of Allison Moore's Collapse, the West Coast Premiere of Craig Lucas's Small Tragedy, and Betrayal. Regional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Center REPertory Company, and Word for Word, among others; she is the co-founder of StageWrite, Building Literacy through Theatre.Playwright Edward Albee made his debut on the American theatrical scene in the late 1950s. His plays, with their intensity, modern themes, and experiments in form, startled critics and audiences alike while changing the landscape of American drama. Born in Washington D.C. in 1928, Albee was adopted as an infant by Reid Albee, the son of Edward Franklin Albee of the powerful Keith-Albee vaudeville chain. He was brought up in great affluence, but clashed with his strong-minded mother, rebelling against her attempts to make him a success in the social set. Instead, Albee pursued his interest in the arts, writing stories and poetry and associating with artists and intellectuals considered objectionable by Mrs. Albee. Albee left home when he was 20 and moved to New York's Greenwich Village, where he took to the era's counterculture and avant-garde movements. He took a variety of odd jobs until 1959 when his play The Zoo Story made him a famous playwright, first in Europe, where it premiered in Berlin, and then in New York. Albee's subsequent works for the stage include The Death of Bessie Smith (1959); The Sandbox (1959); The American Dream (1960); Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962); A Delicate Balance (1966), which garnered Albee his first Pulitzer Prize; The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1963); Tiny Alice (1964); All Over (1971); Seascape (1975), which garnered Albee his second Pulitzer Prize; The Lady from Dubuque (1979); The Man Who Had Three Arms (1983); Three Tall Women (1994), which earned Albee his third Pulitzer Prize; The Play About the Baby (1996); The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? (2002); Me Myself and I (2007); and At Home At The Zoo (2009).
Albee's 25 plays form a body of work that Albee himself describes as "an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, and emasculation and vacuity, a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen." In 1996, Albee was one of the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors and was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 2005, he received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Theater Wing, recognizing him as America's greatest living playwright.Following A DELICATE BALANCE, Aurora Theatre Company continues its 20th anniversary season in November with a re-imagined production of THE SOLDIER'S TALE, an innovative collaboration with former San Francisco Ballet dancer Muriel Maffre, followed by the Bay Area Premiere of Obie-winning playwright Annie Baker's BODY AWARENESS in January, directed by Joy Carlin. Founding Artistic Director Barbara Oliver returns to the company to helm Margret Schaefer's Aurora-commissioned World Premiere translation of Arthur Schnitzler's fin-de-siècle gem ANATOL in April. The 20th anniversary season concludes in June with Aurora Theatre Company's World Premiere play commission, SALOMANIA, written and directed by Mark Jackson.
Nominated for 15 and winner of 8 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for 2010, 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."
Coinciding with Aurora Theatre Company's production, Arion Press in San Francisco, under the direction of owner/publisher Andrew Hoyem, will print a limited edition handcrafted book of Edward Albee's script for A DELICATE BALANCE; all of Aurora's copies of the limited edition printing will be numbered and signed by Albee. The edition will also feature original artwork by renowned California artist Tom Holland, as well as a forward written by Bay Area writer and critic David Littlejohn (The Wall Street Journal). The book will officially be made available for purchase when A DELICATE BALANCE opens at the Aurora Theatre.