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CCCT to Continue 56th Season with Sarah Ruhl's THE CLEAN HOUSE, 2/12-3/6

Contra Costa Civic Theatre (CCCT) continues its 56th season with Sarah Ruhl's insightful comedy, The Clean House, directed by former Woman's Will Artistic Director Erin Merritt in her CCCT debut. The Clean House plays from February 12 through March 6; performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm at the theatre.

A finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, The Clean House explores the absurdities of modern life as it poses many profound questions: What is funny? What is fair? What makes us happy? Who really appreciates us? Are we ever truly understood?

Matilde, a maid from Brazil, is on a quest to find the perfect joke. She works for Lane, a doctor in a loveless marriage to another doctor, Charles. Matilde hates housecleaning, but Lane's sister, Virginia loves to clean house, so Matilde allows Virginia to take over her job. All seems well until Charles falls in love with one of his patients and must tell Lane that their marriage is over. The world of the play shifts to a porous set where the reality of one space appears magically in another; emotions boil over, the power shifts, forgiveness happens, and release is found at last. As Matilde puts it, "If more women knew jokes, there would be more justice in the world."

The cast of The Clean House includes Laura Espino as Mathilde, Suzie Shepard as Lane, Shelley Lynn Johnson as Virginia, Mark Manske as Charles, and Annette Oliveira as Ana.

The production features set design by two-time TBA Award winner Kuo-Hao Lo; costume design is by Lisa Danz, lighting design is by Courtney Johnson, sound and projections design is by Michael Kelly, and props design is by Devon LaBelle. Stage manager for The Clean House is Georgia Taylor Benedict.

Erin Merritt is an award-winning director, dramaturg and producer best known locally as the founder of the all-female Shakespeare company, Woman's Will. In twelve seasons there, Ms. Merritt directed 13 productions, including two "Top Ten Shows of the Year"-Brecht/Weill's Happy End (2005) and Shakespeare's Pericles (2002), which featured a deaf narrator and a new ASL translation of the play-and played such roles as Rosalind (As You Like It), Algernon (The Importance of Being Earnest), and the title role in Coriolanus. She also garnered rave reviews for her translations and adaptations, including Brecht's Good Person of Szechuan; the expressionist hamlet: the melancholy dame; and a 5-person Macbeth (Loading Zone, Santa Rosa, 2007 and Woman's Will, 2008). After leaving Woman's Will in 2009, she traveled around the country having adventures that included producing a film for and about chimps for Primate Cinema in LA; directing the world premiere United, about United Flight 93 in Tucson; and directing veterans in their own stories of war with The Telling Project and undergrads in her own translation of Bertolt Brecht's Drums in the Night, both in Kansas City. Recently back in the Bay Area, she produced the 2013 and 2014 Bay Area Playwrights Festivals, and directed the world premiere of FSM; the West Coast premiere of Aditi Brennan Kapil's Brahman/i: A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show (Crowded Fire); and both Click Clack Moo and Cat in the Hat (Bay Area Children's Theatre). By day, she is the Director of Artistic Engagement at Marin Shakespeare Company.

Single tickets for The Clean House are available online at or by phone at 510.524.9132. Adult tickets are $22 in advance, or $28 at the door; youth tickets for ages 16 and under are $11 in advance, or $15 at the door. Discounts available for groups of 15 or more. All performances take place at CCCT's intimate and fully accessible theatre in the Flynn building located at 951 Pomona Avenue (cross street Moeser) in El Cerrito. Free parking is available in the adjoining lot. For more information, visit

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