Aurora Theatre Company to Present A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, 11/8-12/8
Aurora Theatre Company continues its 22nd season with the Bay Area Premiere of Samuel D. Hunter's edgy and earnest A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Aurora Artistic Director Tom Ross helms this comedy about faith, family, forgiveness, and second chances, featuring Robert Parsons, Patrick Russell, Gwen Loeb, Megan Trout, and Daniel Petzold. A BRIGHT NEW BOISE plays November 8 through December 8 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($32-60) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.
In the break room of a Hobby Lobby craft store in Idaho, the seemingly innocuous Will, an ex-Evangelical cult member who has fled his rural hometown after a scandal involving his fundamentalist church, applies for a job. Will doesn't really want the job, but his estranged son works at the store and Will is a man on a mission - to bond with the boy before the impending Rapture occurs. Enlisting the aid of his new co-workers, a group of eccentric characters who are also struggling to find their way, Will tries to reconnect with his son before the end of the world. Called "funny, compassionate and disturbing all at once" by the LA Weekly, A BRIGHT NEW BOISE offers a quintessentially American slice of life look at the minimum-wage working class and the challenges of modern faith.
A BRIGHT NEW BOISE premiered off-Broadway in 2010 and is the recipient of the 2011 Obie Award for Playwriting and a 2011 Drama Desk nomination for Best Play. About his work for the stage, playwright Samuel D. Hunter said, "The baseline of a lot of my plays is the struggle for meaning and also the struggle for connection between characters...I've always been interested in plays that approach big, potentially controversial topics." About A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, Hunter stated, "There's also just something really interesting about the idea of a break room-it's like this awkward meeting place for a bunch of people who ostensibly have nothing in common other than their place of work. It's all about the tension between the two major themes in the play: banality and divinity."
Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross helms A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Ross inaugurated Aurora Theatre Company with Barbara Oliver in 1992. He has directed 24 productions for the company, including last season's hit production of Neil LaBute's This Is How It Goes, Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, The Soldier's Tale (co-directed with Muriel Maffre), Tennessee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, the World Premiere of The First Grade, Gore Vidal's The Best Man, Mae West's SEX, and Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party. For Aurora Theatre Company, Ross has also directed acclaimed productions of Marius, Blue/Orange, Betrayal, 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, 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, Ross 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 a gifted ensemble for A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Veteran actor Robert Parsons returns to Aurora Theatre Company as ex-Evangelist Will; he last appeared in the company's production of Private Jokes, Public Place. Additional credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball Theater, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Stage, Word for Word, Shotgun Players, San Francisco Playhouse, The Marsh, TheatreWorks, Huntington Theatre Company, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others.
Patrick Russell returns to Aurora Theatre Company as Hobby Lobby employee Leroy in A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Russell previously appeared in the company's hit productions of Wilder Times, Body Awareness, Trouble in Mind, and Awake and Sing!; additional credits include productions at Shotgun Players, American Conservatory Theater, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Center Repertory Company, and Killing My Lobster.
Gwen Loeb, who previously appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's productions of The Arsonists and The Trojan Women, returns to the Aurora stage as Hobby Lobby employee Pauline in A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. A member of the PlayGround Acting Company, additional credits include productions at Shotgun Players, Marin Theatre Company, Center Repertory Company, New Conservatory Theatre Center, FoolsFury, and Central Works, among others.
Megan Trout, who previously appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's production of Metamorphosis, returns to the company as Hobby Lobby employee Anna in A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Additional credits include productions at Shotgun Players, Central Works, Theatre of Yugen, Young Artist's Ensemble, and Brown Bag Theatre Company.
Daniel Petzold makes his Aurora debut as Will's estranged son, Alex, in A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Recent credits include productions at Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Pacific Repertory Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater, Custom Made Theatre Company, and the Livermore and Marin Shakespeare Festivals.
A native of northern Idaho, Samuel D. Hunter's plays include A BRIGHT NEW BOISE (2011 Obie Award for Playwriting, 2011 Drama Desk Nomination for Best Play), The Whale (2013 Drama Desk Award, 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play), The Few, A Great Wilderness, Rest, Jack's Precious Moment, Five Genocides, A Permanent Image, and Norway. He has received commissions from Steppenwolf, Seattle Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Lincoln Center, and Manhattan Theater Club; his plays have been produced by Playwrights Horizons, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Victory Gardens, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Clubbed Thumb, and Page 73, among others, and have been developed at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Lark Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard, LAByrinth, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, JAW West, Ojai Playwrights Conference, and the Pacific Playwrights Festival. He is the recipient of the 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, 2012 Whiting Writers Award, 2013 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, 2008-09 PONY Fellowship, two Lincoln Center Le Compte du Nuoy Awards, and is a resident playwright at Arena Stage. He is an ensemble playwright at Victory Gardens, a core member of the Playwrights Center, a company member of Partial Comfort Productions, and an alum of Ars Nova's Playgroup. He holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard.
Following A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, Jon Tracy returns to Aurora to direct the Bay Area Premiere of Johnna Adams' provocative GIDION'S KNOT in January, followed by the Bay Area Premiere of WITTENBERG by David Davalos, directed by Josh Costello in April. The 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 dramaTHE 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."