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Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space

The co-producers behind The Kilbanes' Weightless, a hit rock opera-retelling of Ovid's Metamorphoses, as well as New York's Obie Award-winning The Tricky Part and Lucille Lortel Award-winning All the Rage, return to San Francisco with a new production of A Lesson From Aloes, to be presented at Z Below. Written by internationally-acclaimed playwright Athol Fugard and directed by Obie Award winner Timothy Near, this inventive revival will feature a star-studded cast of regional theatre's finest actors. A Lesson From Aloes will be presented June 3 - 29, 2018 (press opening: Thursday, June 7, 2018) with performances 7:30pm Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2pm Sundays at Z Below, 470 Florida Street, San Francisco. Tickets ($25-$50) and information can be found at www.alessonfromaloes.com or by phone at 415-626-0453.

Set during apartheid South Africa, A Lesson From Aloes follows a liberal white Afrikaner who believes in resistance, his unsettled English wife struggling with the personal costs, and a black activist who has everything to lose, painting a portrait of loyalty, race, sanity, and survival under an oppressive government. Called "The event of the season. Fugard's profoundest drama yet" by The Christian Science Monitor, this dynamic and timely drama decries racial divides while celebrating the resilience of the human spirit. A Lesson From Aloes debuted in Johannesburg, South Africa and was later produced at Yale Repertory Theatre, then on Broadway in 1981, where it was named "Best Play" by the New York Drama Critics' Circle and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. A Lesson From Aloes was deemed "immensely moving" by the New York Post while The Seattle Times said it was "rippling with charged emotion and insight." The New York Times said "Exile, madness, utter loneliness-these are the only alternatives Mr. Fugard's characters have. What makes Aloes so moving is the playwright's insistence on the heroism and integrity of these harsh choices."

Regional theatre's brightest stars are featured in this new production. Broadway actor Victor Talmadge leads the cast as liberal white Afrikaner, Piet Benzuidenhout. Talmadge starred in the touring production of The King & I and the Los Angeles production of The Lion King, and was featured in David Mamet's November on Broadway. He has performed extensively off-Broadway and at regional theatres, in addition to working in film and television with luminaries including Francis Ford Coppola. Talmadge also won the Nakashima Peace Prize for his play The Gate of Heaven, which has been performed at The U.S. Holocaust Memorial, The Old Globe Theater, Ford's Theatre, and The Annenberg Center.

Award-winning producer and actor Wendy vanden Heuvel plays Gladys, Piet's wife. Once a member of Jerzy Grotowski's Objective Drama Project, vanden Heuvel has performed at regional theatres across the country, including Signature Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, and Magic Theater. She can be seen in the recently-premiered documentary The Lake Lucille Project: I am a Seagull alongside Tony Award winning-actor Gabriel Ebert and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker, and in films Burn Country alongside Golden Globe Award winner James Franco and the upcoming Under the Silver Lake alongside Olivier, Tony, and Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield.

Bay Area favorite Adrian Roberts rounds out the cast as Steve Daniels, a black activist. Recently seen in Fugard's "Master Harold"...and the boys at Aurora Theatre Company, Roberts has performed at regional theatres throughout the Bay Area and across the country, including San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Lincoln Center. Roberts is a graduate of American Conservatory Theater's M.F.A. program.

Timothy Near is an award-winning director and actor. She won the Obie Award for her performance in Emily Mann's Still Life and a Theatre Bay Area Award for her direction of Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"...and the boys at Aurora Theatre Company. Near served as the Artistic Director at San Jose Repertory Theatre for 22 years, where she produced over 120 plays, including 21 world premieres. Her work has been seen at the nation's leading theatres including The Public Theater, Guthrie Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Goodman Theatre, ALLIANCE THEATRE, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Athol Fugard is an internationally-acclaimed South African playwright, director, actor, and novelist known for his politically-charged work opposing apartheid. A recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, The New Yorker called Fugard "a rare playwright, who could be a primary candidate for either the Nobel Prize in Literature or the Nobel Peace Prize." Fugard's plays have garnered Obie, New York Drama Critics' Circle, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and Fugard has also won an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Helen Hayes Award for his direction. His works The Road to Mecca, "Master Harold"...and the boys, Blood Knot, A Lesson From Aloes, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, and The Island have been produced on Broadway. The film adaptation of his novel Tsotsi won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.

Created in 2014 by Wendy vanden Heuvel, Weathervane Productions is dedicated to nurturing and supporting playwrights and their work from development to production, and it also supports and develops devised and collaborative theater. vanden Heuvel is also the artistic director of piece by piece productions, a not for profit organization whose productions have included The Kilbanes' Weightless, and Hundred Days, conceived by the indie rock couple The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher, both co-produced with Z Space, Medea directed by Deborah Warner with Fiona Shaw on Broadway (associate producer), The Tricky Part (2004 Obie Award and two Drama Desk nominations including Best Play), All The Rage (Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Solo Show 2013) by Martin Moran, and several productions with Rising Phoenix Repertory and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Since 2010, piece by piece has been a producer on The Lake Lucille Chekhov Project (Ivanov, Seagull), which was created by Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievmann, and in winter 2013 co­-produced Lee Breuer's La Divina Caricatura in association with St. Ann's Warehouse, La Mama ETC, Mabou Mines, and Dovetail Productions. Weathervane is developing a new commission by Jessica Dickey, The Convent, which will premiere in New York in 2019, and a new play by Lucy Thurber which will be produced in San Francisco in 2019.

Photo credit: David Allen

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
Wife Gladys (Wendy vanden Heuvel) and husband Piet (Victor Talmadge) prepare for a dinner party with their friend in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
L-R: Friends Steve (AdrIan Roberts) and Piet (Victor Talmadge) enthusiastically recite a poem in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
Gladys (Wendy vanden Heuvel) sends a gift home with Steve (AdrIan Roberts) in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
Piet (Victor Talmadge) reads by the light of a flame in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
Wife Gladys (Wendy vanden Heuvel) and husband Piet (Victor Talmadge) prepare for a dinner party with their friend in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
L-R: Friends Steve (AdrIan Roberts), Piet (Victor Talmadge), and Gladys (Wendy vanden Heuvel) share a toast in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
Steve (AdrIan Roberts) brings Piet (Victor Talmadge) a gift when he arrives for dinner in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
L-R: Friends Piet (Victor Talmadge) and Steve (AdrIan Roberts) remember their days of activism in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.

Photos: A LESSON FROM ALOES Comes to Z Space
L-R: Friends Piet (Victor Talmadge) and Steve (AdrIan Roberts) remember their days of activism in "A Lesson From Aloes," performing June 3-29 at Z Below.


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