Tag Archives: Aurora Theatre

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Berkeley based singer/songwriter and youth mentor Austin Willacy will perform at the Subterranean Arthouse on Saturday. Photo: www.austinwillacy.com
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THREESOME: ARTISTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE The eye-catching title refers to an artistic trifecta — performance, visual, and literary. All three modes of expression will be squeezed onto one bill at the Subterranean Arthouse on Saturday, August 30. Berkeley based singer/songwriter Austin Willacy will perform, as will performance poet Graham Hackett, who goes by LoosiD. East Bay artist Laura VanDuren’s sculptures will be on view.  The show begins at 8 p.m. at 2179 Bancroft Ave. Tickets are $15-20. … Continue reading »

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Aurora’s ‘The Letters’: Fear, mistrust make exciting drama

The Letters
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For an exciting night at the theater, don’t miss The Letters at the 49-seat Harry’s UpStage, a new second stage at the Aurora Theatre Company.

Written by John W. Lowell (The Standby Lear, Autumn Canticle) and first staged in Los Angeles in 2009, The Letters is set in 1931 in a nameless Soviet government office. Anna (excellent Beth Wilmurt) is a shy and reserved bureaucrat who has been called to the office of the Director (first-rate Michael Ray Wisely — read Berkeleyside’s April 22 interview with Wisely).

No reason for the meeting has been given. Anna sits, nervous and withdrawn, while she tries to ascertain the subject of this rare meeting with her superior. After all, this is Stalinist Russia where paranoia is normal.

As Anna, Beth Wilmurt’s body is tense, her hands and jaw are clenched. She is anxious for the meeting to end. The scene has the aura of a Pinter play.

We learn that Anna works in the disinformation department. Her recent difficult assignment was to cleanse the letters of a famous Russian composer in order to erase its sexually explicit references to his homosexuality. … Continue reading »

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‘Wittenberg,’ a comedy with an historical undertow

Hamlet (c. Jeremy Kahn*) is torn between Faustus (l. Michael Stevenson*) and Martin Luther (r. Dan Hiatt*) in Wittenberg. Photo: David Allen
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Wittenbergat the Aurora in Berkeley, is written by contemporary American playwright David Davalos. It’s an historical comedy that employs an ingenious contrivance as the basis for the play’s plot. The scene is in Saxony, at the University of Wittenberg in 1517.

Prince Hamlet (yes, that Hamlet) is a senior there, studying under his favorite professors, Martin Luther and the fictional Doctor Faustus. Part of the play’s cleverness is that its basis is somewhat historically correct. Martin Luther, a Wittenberg university lecturer, posted his “95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg in 1517. The author of Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe, created his character as a teacher at Wittenberg in the early 1500s. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Danish Prince attended Wittenberg; however the school was founded in 1502, and Hamlet is supposed to take place centuries earlier. But the timing is close enough to make for an entertaining thesis. … Continue reading »

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