Aurora Theatre Company to Present THE LYONS in 2015

Aurora Theatre Company to Present THE LYONS in 2015

Aurora Theatre Company continues its 23rd season with the Bay Area Premiere of Nicky Silver's (Pterodactyls, Raised in Captivity) scathingly funny Broadway hit THE LYONS. Tony-nominated director Barbara Damashek, who helmed Aurora Theatre Company's productions of American Buffalo, Fat Pig, and Private Jokes, Public Places, returns to direct THE LYONS, featuring Ellen Ratner (After the Revolution, Awake and Sing!), Will Marchetti (Knock Knock), Nicholas Pelczar (Dublin Carol, Marius), Jessica Bates (After the Revolution), Joe Estlack (Shotgun Players, Magic Theatre), and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe (Brava Theater, TheatreWorks, Magic Theatre). THE LYONS plays January 30 through March 1 at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($32-60) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org. For mature audiences.

Rita Lyons is the indomitable matriarch of a family facing a major crossroads. Her husband, Ben, is dying, her son is in a dubious relationship, and her daughter is barely keeping her head above water. Not to mention Rita's living room is in desperate need of redecoration. As the family gathers around Ben's hospital bed, they discover that they're as terrified of being together as they are of being alone as tempers flare and vicious accusations replace sentimental memories. Hailed as "Hilariously frank, clear-sighted, compassionate and forgiving" by The New York Times, and "Black-comedy perfection," by The Hollywood Reporter, THE LYONS is a deliciously savage, intimate examination of how we cope with life, death, loneliness, and disappointment.

THE LYONS will be the fully-staged anchor production in this season's Global Age Project (GAP), an Aurora Theatre Company initiative that encourages playwrights and directors to explore life in the 21st century and beyond. This year's GAP prize winners include: Red Flamboyant by Don Nguyen; FTW by Jonathan Spector; and Ironbound by Martyna Majok. The selected GAP plays will be presented as staged readings in a four-week festival at the Aurora Theatre, Mondays, February 9-March 2, 7:30pm, culminating in a 10th Anniversary celebration honoring the artists who have made the Global Age Project a success. All GAP readings are free and open to the public.

A graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts, playwright Nicky Silver's works for the stage include THE LYONS; Pterodactyls; Raised In Captivity; The Eros Trilogy; The Maiden's Prayer; The Altruists; Beautiful Child; The Agony and the Agony; Three Changes; The Food Chain; Fat Men in Skirts; Fit to be Tied; Free Will and Wanton Lust; and The Maiden's Prayer, among others. His plays have been produced by Vineyard Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Silver contributed new material to the Roundabout Theatre's 2002 revival of The Boys from Syracuse. His new play, Too Much Sun, premiered Off-Broadway in May 2014, starring Linda Lavin and Jennifer Westfeldt. THE LYONS opened on Broadway in April 2012, starring Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa; it was Silver's first play to be produced on Broadway. Silver is the recipient of the Oppenheimer Award, the Kesselring Prize, the Helen Hayes Award, and three nominations each for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.

Nicky Silver's work has been located in the tradition of dark farce created by gay playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Joe Orton, and Christopher Durang. After writing about the complicated and idealistic relationships in Three Changes in 2008, Silver said that he just wanted to write "the simplest play that I could write;" the result was THE LYONS. About his approach, he notes that, "Our most basic relationships are in our families - those are the densest relationships we ever develop, our husbands, wives, sons, daughters. I actually believe at their core that all plays are family plays, whether they appear to be or not."

Tony-nominated director Barbara Damashek, who helmed Aurora Theatre Company's productions of American Buffalo, Fat Pig, and Private Jokes, Public Places, returns to direct THE LYONS. Best known as the director, composer-lyricist, and co-author of the musical Quilters, which received six Tony nominations, Damashek has directed productions for South Coast Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Trinity Repertory Company, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among others. Additionally, Damashek has helmed productions at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (House of Blue Leaves, Rhinoceros), Center REPertory Company (Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Noel and Gertie), Marin Theatre Company (Arms and the Man), American Conservatory Theater (The Cherry Orchard), and Magic Theatre (The Cryptogram, Lonesome West). An Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University, Damashek has created a large body of original plays with music, including Whereabouts Unknown, a musical documentary about the homeless, which was commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival and a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Aurora Theatre Company has assembled an outstanding ensemble for THE LYONS. Veteran stage and television actress Ellen Ratner returns to Aurora Theatre Company as matriarch Rita in THE LYONS; she previously appeared in the company's productions of After the Revolution and Awake and Sing!. Credits include productions at A Traveling Jewish Theatre, the Roundabout Theatre, Falcon Theatre, and Odyssey Theater. In addition to the stage, Ratner's numerous television credits include roles on shows including Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Nanny, Frasier, and Ugly Betty.

Will Marchetti, who last appeared at the Aurora in the company's production of Knock Knock, returns as patriarch Ben in THE LYONS. Marchetti has been acting in the Bay Area since he was a young man at Les Abott's San Francisco Theatre Company. Over his career, he has been featured in productions at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, San Jose Stage, Eureka Theatre, Magic Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, and Marin Theatre Company, where he was Artistic Director for many years.

Also returning is Nicholas Pelczar, who appeared in Aurora's productions of Dublin Carol and Marius, as Curtis in THE LYONS. Other credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, California Shakespeare Theater, Marin Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and TheatreWorks, among others. Jessica Bates, who appeared in Aurora Theatre Company's production of After the Revolution, returns to the Aurora stage as Lisa in THE LYONS. Credits include productions at The Acting Company, Capital Stage, National Shakespeare Company, Hangar Theatre, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others.

Rounding out the cast, and making their Aurora stage debuts, are Joe Estlack (Shotgun Players, Magic Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, San Jose Stage, Boxcar Theatre, Theater First, Mugwumpin) as Brian, and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe (Brava Theater, TheatreWorks, Magic Theatre, Loraine Hansberry Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco Mime Troupe) as the Nurse.

Following THE LYONS, Aurora Theatre Company pays homage to Lanford Wilson with "The Talley Trilogy" in April with the Pulitzer Prize-winning TALLEY'S FOLLY, directed by Joy Carlin in Harry's UpStage, followed by FIFTH OF JULY, helmed by Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross. As a special addition to the 23rd season, and completing the trilogy, Aurora will present readings of Wilson's rarely performed play TALLEY & SON in April, directed by Jennifer King. Aurora Theatre Company closes its 23rd season in June with the Bay Area Premiere of Lisa D'Amour's wicked Obie-winning satire DETROIT, directed by Josh Costello.

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 continues its 23rd season with the Bay Area Premiere of Nicky Silver's (Pterodactyls, Raised in Captivity) scathingly funny Broadway hit THE LYONS. Rita Lyons is the indomitable matriarch of a family facing a major crossroads. Her husband, Ben, is dying, her son is in a dubious relationship, and her daughter is barely keeping her head above water. Not to mention Rita's living room is in desperate need of redecoration. As the family gathers around Ben's hospital bed, they discover that they're as terrified of being together as they are of being alone as tempers flare and vicious accusations replace sentimental memories. Hailed as "Hilariously frank, clear-sighted, compassionate and forgiving" by The New York Times, and "Black-comedy perfection," by The Hollywood Reporter, THE LYONS is a deliciously savage, intimate examination of how we cope with life, death, loneliness, and disappointment.

Tony-nominated director Barbara Damashek, who helmed Aurora Theatre Company's productions of American Buffalo, Fat Pig, and Private Jokes, Public Places, returns to direct THE LYONS, featuring Ellen Ratner (After the Revolution, Awake and Sing!), Will Marchetti (Knock Knock), Nicholas Pelczar (Dublin Carol, Marius), Jessica Bates (After the Revolution), Joe Estlack (Shotgun Players, Magic Theatre), and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe (Brava Theater, TheatreWorks, Magic Theatre). For mature audiences.

THE LYONS 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. In addition, several new plays dealing with global age concerns will be chosen from an international pool of playwrights and presented in a series of developmental readings during the run of THE LYONS.

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