Aurora Theatre, Berkeley

Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre Company has announced the four plays chosen as finalists by a committee of local directors for the sixth annual Global Age Project (GAP), the company’s new works initiative that promotes the creation of forward-looking theater: Fire Work by Lauren Gunderson; Silent Disco by Lachlan Philpott; Bird in the Hand by Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas; and Our Practical Heaven by Anthony Clarvoe.

The selected plays will be presented as staged readings in a four-week festival at the Aurora Theatre, Mondays, February 7-28, 7:30pm, coinciding with the company’s fully-staged World Premiere of Allison Moore’s Collapse (January 28-March 6). Collapse originated as one of last season’s GAP finalists and is the second main stage production to develop from the GAP. Each GAP reading will be followed by an audience discussion of the contemporary issues raised in each work.

Aurora Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Tom Ross states, “This year, as we move towards our goal of making the GAP a truly global festival, we are excited to feature not only two local playwrights, and a playwright based in New York, but to host our first playwright from Australia.” Continues Ross, “We look to the yearly GAP submissions as a way of taking the pulse of what playwrights are thinking about. There were approximately 220 submissions this year, the majority of which were focused on the topics of the home front and family, highlighting the fact that people really are looking for true connections in a world flooded by increasingly superficial means of relating. In reading these plays, it was remarkable to see how the old-fashioned ideas of family, friendship, and marriage were being refashioned and translated into new ideas of hope for our changing world.”

The Global Age Project is a discovery and developmental vehicle established to encourage playwrights to address life in the 21st century and beyond. Seeking forward-thinking work from both established and emerging playwrights, the festival provides a development opportunity for plays that directly respond to our complicated present and our possible future. Writers are encouraged to submit works that explore and/or examine the changing state of human relationships in this new century; plays need not be about science or technology. The company also encourages submissions that transcend traditional forms of theater presentation.

GAP festival lineup

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fire Work

By Lauren Gunderson (San Francisco, CA)
Directed by Tracy Ward

Ana and her father run a small fireworks shop in a nowhere town in an unforgiving corner of the world. When a stranger walks in and catches Ana’s eye (and a glimpse of her without the requisite veil), her father fears for her safety, and the fireworks really begin. Fire Work is a love story about a strong woman, strong chemistry, a harsh landscape, and the even harsher choices one has to make not just to survive, but to thrive. Lauren Gunderson is a playwright, screenwriter and short story author. Her work has received national acclaim and numerous awards, including the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre and the Eric Bentley New Play Award. She has developed plays with Second Stage and Primary Stages in New York, New Repertory Theatre in Boston, Playwrights Foundation, Crowded Fire, and Magic Theatre in San Francisco, and Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, among others. Her work has been commissioned by Alliance Theatre’s Collision Project, Marin Theatre Company, Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, Theatrical Outfit, City University of New York, and Synchronicity Performance Group; she is currently on commission with The Kennedy Center, South Coast Repertory, and SF Playhouse. Gunderson is developing a musical with Harry Connick Jr. and writes for The Huffington Post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Silent Disco

By Lachlan Philpott (Sydney, Australia)
Directed by Jonathan Spector

Tamara and Jasyn could be in love. Without knowing anyone who is in a meaningful relationship, it’s kind of hard to know what to do. What is love anyway? When you listen to songs about love on your i-pod it sounds so easy. But really, it’s not. Navigating their crowded homes, school halls, and playlists, the two teens do their best to learn all they can about what makes family and friends worth all the trouble. Lachlan Philpott is writer in residence at Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney. His first play, Bison, had sold-out productions in Adelaide, Belfast, London, Melbourne, and Sydney. His other works for the stage have been performed in Australia and the UK, including Air TortureBustownCatapultColderDue MondayExtinctRunning Under the Sprinkler, and Silent Disco, which received the Griffin Award in 2009. Additionally, Philpott has written several scripts for Amnesty International campaigns; he currently directs the FRESH INK young writers program at The Australian Theatre for Young People in Sydney, and is under commission to develop productions with Focus Theatre (Sydney) and Q Theatre (Penrith).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bird in the Hand

By Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas (Queens, New York)

Directed by M. Graham Smith

Bird in the Hand casts a local’s eye on what makes Miami “Cuban” and what makes a Cuban “American.” Vanessa, an obese Airport Security screener, binges on comfort food and carries on an imaginary relationship with an imaginary boyfriend. Her sister, Susan, wishes she would just stick to her diet and otherwise leave her alone. Susan’s boyfriend, Gabriel, is studying for the SAT’s with his best friend Felix, who works with the flamingos at a local tourist attraction and whose love for Gabriel goes unrequited. Desperate for connection, they all look for meaning in a city too new to be familiar to anyone. Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’ many awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the Helen Merrill Award. His plays include Maleta Maleta, produced by Campo Santo in San Francisco; Sleepwalkers, produced by Area Stage and remounted by the Alliance Theatre; Tight Embrace, produced by INTAR in New York; and Blind Mouth Singing, which recently completed runs at Chicago’s Teatro Vista and the Asian American Theatre Company in New York. His work has been commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Hartford Stage, and Playwrights Horizons.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Practical Heaven

By Anthony Clarvoe (Berkeley, CA)
Directed by Allen McKelvey

In Our Practical Heaven, three generations of family gather over three holidays in a home none of them expects to long survive the rising sea. They do chores, text each other, and dance. They watch the birds, and watch each other, while struggling for loyalty, legacy, and turf. By the end, everything has shifted and a new generation is in charge, but of what? Our Practical Heaven addresses the changing tides of communication, gender roles, and society in a place where even the notions of home and family remain fluid. Anthony Clarvoe’s plays include Show and Tell (which recently played at Thick House in San Francisco); Ambition Facing West (which premiered at Trinity Repertory Company); Ghosts (translated from Ibsen, Intiman Theatre); The Brothers Karamazov (based on the Dostoevsky novel, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Living (Denver Center Theatre); Let’s Play Two (South Coast Repertory); and Pick Up Ax (Eureka Theatre Company), among others. Additionally, his work has been produced or received commissions at Mark Taper Forum, Playwrights’ Horizons, Signature Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, TheatreWorks, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others.

Handpicked by Tom Ross, the GAP Directors’ Council is comprised of esteemed local and nationally recognized directors. This year’s GAP Directors’ Council is comprised of: Allen McKelvey (actor, director, founder of AmeRican CitiZeNs’ TheatRE), who directs Our Practical Heaven by Anthony Clarvoe; M. Graham Smith (GAP Producer, founder and Artistic Director of Precarious Theatre), who returns to the GAP to direct Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’ Bird in the Hand; Jonathan Spector (Co-Artistic Director of Just Theater, Artistic Associate of Playwrights Foundation) who directs Silent Disco by Lachlan Philpott; and Tracy Ward (directing credits include productions at Z Space, Shotgun Players/Encore Theater, and the award-winning production of Hunter Gatherers at Thick House) who directs Fire Work by Lauren Gunderson.

Aurora Theatre Company
2081 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.