TALLEY'S FOLLY Begins Tonight at Aurora Theatre Company
Aurora Theatre Company continues its 23rd season with TALLEY'S FOLLY. In a season dedicated to his memory, the company pays homage to one of the most prolific and revered American playwrights of the 20th century, Lanford Wilson, with "The Talley Trilogy," of which TALLEY'S FOLLEY is the first entry in the series of three interrelated plays. Acclaimed Bay Area actress and director Joy Carlin (After the Revolution, Body Awareness, Jack Goes Boating, Awake and Sing!), who played Sally Talley in American Conservatory Theater's 1979 production of Wilson's Fifth of July, directs this romantic theatrical waltz featuring Lauren English (Seminar at San Francisco Playhouse) and Rolf Saxon (After the Revolution). TALLEY'S FOLLY plays now through June 7 at Harry's UpStage located in the Nell and Jules Dashow Wing at the Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley. For tickets ($30-50) and information the public can call (510) 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.
It's the Fourth of July, 1944 in Lebanon, Missouri. Matt Friedman, a Jewish accountant from St. Louis, has arrived to plead his love to well-to-do gentile Sally Talley. A rocky courtship the previous summer might have ended when Sally stopped replying to Matt's letters, but Matt never gave up hope and has showed up unexpectedly at Sally's home, refusing to accept her rebuffs and fears that her family would never approve of their marriage. Charming and indomitable, Matt steadily presses his case and overcomes Sally's defenses, telling her his innermost secrets and, in return, learning hers as well. Gradually he awakens Sally to the possibilities of a life together where two wounded hearts can become whole. TALLEY'S FOLLY, about which the New York Post said, "It is perhaps the simplest, the most lyrical play Wilson has written...funny, sweet, touching and marvelously written," and which The New York Times called "a play to savor and cheer," premiered on Broadway in 1980 and received a critically acclaimed off Broadway revival in 2013.
Veteran Bay Area actress and director Joy Carlin helms TALLEY'S FOLLY. Carlin attended the Yale School of Drama and is an original member of Chicago's Playwrights' Theatre; she has been a leading actress, director, and teacher in the Bay Area since 1969. Carlin served as the Associate Artistic Director of the American Conservatory Theater from 1987-1992, was an actor and resident director at Berkeley Repertory Theatre from 1981-1984, and served as its Interim Artistic Director from 1983-1984. For Aurora Theatre Company, Carlin most recently directed After the Revolution and Annie Baker's Body Awareness, as well as productions of Clifford Odet's Awake and Sing!, Bob Glaudini's Off Broadway hit Jack Goes Boating, Terry Johnson's Hysteria, John Guare's Bosoms and Neglect, Arthur Miller's The Price, Conor McPherson's Dublin Carol, David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood, and Michael Frayn's Benefactors. In addition to starring in Aurora Theatre Company's productions of Our Practical Heaven, Thérèse Raquin, and The Belle of Amherst, she has appeared in multiple stage roles at American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, and San Jose Repertory Theatre, among others. Carlin is the recipient of numerous Bay Area Critics Circle Awards and Dramalogue Awards for both acting and directing.
Aurora Theatre Company has brought together a gifted duo for TALLEY'S FOLLY. Lauren English makes her Aurora stage debut as Sally Talley. Additional credits include productions at San Francisco Playhouse (Seminar, Reasons to be Pretty, Becky Shaw, Cabaret, Our Town), Marin Theatre Company (The Lasso of Truth), Magic Theatre (Why We Have a Body, Red Snake), and California Shakespeare Theater (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV 1&2), among others.
Stage, film, and television actor Rolf Saxon returns to Aurora Theatre Company as Matt Friedman in TALLEY'S FOLLY; he previously appeared in the company's production of After the Revolution. Saxon was in the first class at American Conservatory Theater's Conservatory, worked with the embryonic California Shakespeare Theater (then Festival), and was a founding member of the Berkeley Mime Troupe. Additional regional credits include productions with TheatreWorks (Time Stands Still, The Chosen) and A Traveling Jewish Theatre (The Floating Lightbulb). He has appeared in numerous West End productions (Chicago, Blues for Mr. Charlie), productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Royal Court Theater.
Lanford Wilson (April 13, 1937 - March 24, 2011) was an American playwright who helped to advance the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. He was nominated for three Tony Awards and has won a Drama Desk Award and five Obie Awards. In 1962, he moved to New York and began to write plays for Off-Off-Broadway theaters. He worked at odd jobs before finding a job in the subscriptions office of the New York Shakespeare Festival and began his professional career as a playwright writing one-act plays for Caffe Cino, a coffeehouse and small theater run by Joseph Cino, a pioneer of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. In 1965, Wilson also began writing plays for Ellen Stewart's La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, where his first full-length plays premiered. Wilson was a co-founder of Circle Repertory Company, for whom he wrote many plays in the 1970s. His play Fifth of July was first produced at Circle Rep in 1978; for its Broadway production opening in 1980, he received a Tony Award nomination. A prequel, Talley's Folly (1979 at Circle Rep.), opened on Broadway before Fifth of July and won him the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and his first Tony nomination. Wilson's works for the stage include: Home Free! (1964); The Madness of Lady Bright (1964); Balm in Gilead (1965); Ludlow Fair (1965); Wandering (1966); The Rimers of Eldritch (1967); The Gingham Dog (1968) (Wilson's first Broadway production in 1969); Lemon Sky (1968); Serenading Louie (1970); The Hot l Baltimore (1973); The Mound Builders (1975); Fifth of July (1978; Broadway 1980-82); TALLEY'S FOLLY (1979; Broadway 1980); A Tale Told (1981, later revised and renamed Talley & Son); Angels Fall (1982; Broadway 1983); Burn This (1986; Broadway 1987-88); Abstinence (1989); Redwood Curtain (1992; Broadway 1993); A Sense of Place (1996); Sympathetic Magic (1998); Book of Days (2000); Rain Dance (2002). Lanford Wilson died on March 24, 2011, at the age of 73, from complications with pneumonia.
Located in the Dashow Wing at Aurora Theatre Company, Harry's UpStage is the company's second stage performance space. Longtime Aurora subscriber and supporter Harry Weininger passed away in May 2010; his family, who knew of his dedication to Aurora, wanted to honor him and made a generous donation to Aurora to outfit the Dashow with a new lighting package, curtains, a stage, and furniture. Harry's UpStage is used for live cabaret and second stage events at Aurora.
Following TALLEY'S FOLLY, Aurora Theatre Company continues its 23rd season in April on the main stage with Lanford Wilson's FIFTH OF JULY, helmed by Artistic Director Tom Ross. As a special addition to the season, and completing "The Talley Trilogy," Aurora will present readings of Wilson's rarely performed play TALLEY & SON in April, directed by Jennifer King. Aurora Theatre Company closes its 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."