Dominique Morisseau’s “Detroit ’67” ran at the Aurora Theatre in 2018. Morisseau’s work returns to the Aurora next season, with “Paradise Blue.” Credit: Scot Goodman.

This story is brought to you by Aurora Theatre Company.

Aurora Theatre Company’s 31st season features plays ranging from Detroit in the 1940s, to Vietnam in the 1880s, then to Paris in the 1640s, and all the way back to the Greek gods, while still speaking to our present moment and the new world we’re collectively building today. 

For more information on the 2022/2023 season or to subscribe and purchase your tickets, visit auroratheatre.org.

Before the season officially begins, Jonathan Spector’s “This Much I Know,” will make its world premiere in September. Originally scheduled for this past February, it was postponed due to the Omicron surge.

Spector’s play was inspired by Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” and focuses on a psychology professor’s all-too-personal lectures, in which he attempts to unravel a mystery concerning his wife Natalya. This search brings together the stories of Stalin’s daughter defecting to America, the struggling son of a white supremacist, and the secret anguish of an accidental killer.

Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Delicious

Credit: Aurora

The 2022/2023 season officially begins in November with the world premiere of Dustin Chinn’s “Colonialism is Terrible, But Pho is Delicious.” The play was inspired by two separate articles that caused an uproar on the internet about how to “best” eat pho and how to cook bibimbap. Chinn said he “followed the rabbit hole down a discussion of food culture.” The show explores the differences between appropriation and appreciation and to whom authorship belongs.

“I hope that people come away with a conversation … It’s fine that people come out with more questions than answers from this play,” Chinn said. 

Chinn’s play was initially developed as part of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor program before being brought to Aurora for a reading last February. Chinn worked extensively with cultural consultants to explore this conversation of cultural exchange and appropriation.

Paradise Blue

Credit: Aurora

In January, Associate Artistic Director Dawn Monique Williams will bring Dominique Morisseau’s “Paradise Blue” to Aurora, following the success of Morisseau’s “Detroit ‘67” at the theater in 2018. “Paradise Blue” is a modern classic, about Blue, a talented trumpet player who faces the pressure of gentrification in Detroit’s Blackbottom neighborhood as he struggles with the decision to sell his once-popular jazz club.

The play was studied in the Williams’ reading group, “A Year with Dawn,” this past year and, Williams said, “the participants really took to it.”  

Cyrano

Credit: Aurora

In April of 2023, Artistic Director Josh Costello’s adaptation of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the 17th-century French play by Edmond Rostand, hits the Aurora stage. Costello’s adaptation reworks the English translation of Rostand’s piece, condensing the story from five acts to three and reducing the cast size to five actors.  

Costello said he’s been working on this piece, “off and on since about 2015.” That’s when a first draft was put together, which eliminated the crowd scenes and reduced the number of actors and locations. “It has spent stretches of time since then on the shelf while I focused on other things, but I’d tinker with it from time to time and started really getting it into shape over the past year or two.”

Hurricane Diane

Credit: Aurora

The season ends in June 2023 with “Hurricane Diane,”  in which Madeleine George mines climate change for comedy, audaciously bringing back Dionysus, in the form of a butch lesbian gardener. She comes back to Earth to save humanity with the help of four real housewives of New Jersey.

In preparing to direct this show, “Hurricane Diane” director Jennifer King has been particularly inspired by the current state of the world and the way the pandemic has affected how we interact with the world and each other. 

“It was so relevant to now, and what was really interesting for me is that I had just been to an exhibit … called Lands End, which was about climate change and what it’s doing to our oceans and our lands, and I felt it directly paralleled Hurricane Diane so beautifully, and I just thought ‘we have to do this play,’” King said.

Aurora’s how-to guide on building a season

Aurora’s Artistic Director, Costello, and Associate Artistic Director, Williams, work through the year to plan a season, read scripts, schedule shows, and build relationships with artists and the community. 

What makes a potential show an “Aurora play,” Costello said, is one that furthers the conversations being had in the community and provides an opportunity for people to come together to be a part of an experience.

Part of Williams’ work is to find stories that help cover a broader range of perspectives, genres and cast sizes.  One way in which Aurora has continued to achieve its mission and speak to the community is through its Confronting and Dismantling Oppression commitments.

“We have a series of commitments around the plays that we produce, such as a longstanding Aurora policy of having at least half the plays be written by women and then a new commitment that at least half the plays will be written by BIPOC playwrights,” Costello said.

Aurora is home to two theater spaces, including its mainstage, the 150-seat Alafi Auditorium, and the 49-seat Dashow Wing. These smaller, intimate performance spaces shape the organization and the choice of productions. 

“What we do best and what we love to do, is tell stories that have an emphasis on detailed, nuanced language and acting,” Costello said.

The Aurora Theatre is on Addison Street in downtown Berkeley. Credit: David Allen Credit: Aurora Theatre Company

This story is written and paid for by Aurora Theatre Company, whose mission, as the storyteller for our community, is to inspire new audiences and longtime theatre lovers alike with the visceral power of live theatre, challenging all of us to think deeper and laugh louder.

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