Tag Archives: Tom Ross

Aurora: 20 years at heart of Berkeley’s cultural life

A Delicate Balance
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Edward Albee was in the audience for the opening night of “A Delicate Balance” at the Aurora Theatre earlier this month. He stood up at the play’s end, joining many others to give the actors a standing ovation. Tom Ross, who directed the play, had not told his cast that the renowned author of the play they were performing would be present on their first night. It would have given them the jitters, he said — even more than … Continue reading »

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Aurora’s “Eccentricities” highlights universal themes

Reverend Winemiller (r, Charles Dean*) talks to Alma (l, Beth Wilmurt) about her mannerisms in the hopes that she does not become her mother (c, Amy Crumpacker) Photo by David Allen
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Tennessee Williams is best known for his plays A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but it was a character in another, less well-known play, that haunted him for decades.

Williams was obsessed with the story of Alma, a spinsterish vocal teacher in a southern town who struggles against conformity, small mindedness, and her own sexual urges.

Williams first wrote about Alma in 1947 in the short story, The Yellow Bird, which he adapted into Summer and Smoke. It had a brief, unsuccessful, run on Broadway in 1948. Williams then wrote and rewrote Alma’s story over a 25-year period, turning it into an all-together different play, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, first performed on Broadway in 1976.

“Look, I’m Alma,” Williams told the cast, according to Donald Spoto’s biography of the playwright.

On the 100th anniversary of Williams’ birth, the Aurora Theatre Company has brought the little-performed Eccentricities on a Nightingale to the stage. While the moral and sexual struggles at the center of this appealing production feel a bit dated, Alma’s quest to define herself on her own terms remains as relevant today as it did during Williams’ life. … Continue reading »

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