Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: Aurora Opens Wilder Nights; Ram Das 'Acid Test' at the Marsh—& a Few Richards: 'Richard the First' at Central Works & Actors Ensemble of Berkeley's 'Richard III'

By Ken Bullock
Thursday November 08, 2012 - 03:45:00 PM

—Aurora's opening a selection of Thornton Wilder's one-acts (Thursday, November 8 through December 9), directed by founding Artistic Director Barbara Oliver: "Infancy" (1962), "Childhood" ('62), "The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden" (1931) and "The Long Christmas Dinner" ('31)—the latter, his most famous one-act, with its time-lapse view of human lifetimes through a family feast, may've been part inspiration for Orson Welles' famous montage of a marriage at the breakfast table, failing over the years, in 'Citizen Kane.' It was made into an opera by Paul Hindemith. 

Wilder, most famous for 'Our Town' (and for 'The Skin of Our Teeth,' as well as the screenplay for Hitchcock's 'Shadow of a Doubt,' and 'The Matchmaker,' from Johann Nestroy, whence springeth 'Hello, Dolly!") is often misrepresented as sugar-coated or Pollyanna-ish.Nothing could be further from the truth, as the second half of 'Our Town,' shows, emphasized in Jonathan Moscone's production at Berkeley Rep a few years back: the starkness of the effects of mortality, of the basic questions of the human condition, is etched sharply against the gestures in the foreground towards folk and populist sentiments, revealing the unspoken collective and individual doubts and fears in positive-thinking small town America. 

And, like elements of the one-acts, it is a small revolution in dramaturgy and staging. 

Friend of Gertrude Stein, acquaintance and translator of Sartre, mentor to Edward Albee, Wilder was an international figure—his plays are presented all over the world, his novels an object of university study. 

The Aurora cast includes Heather Gordon, Gwen Kingston, Soren Oliver, Marcia Pizzo, Stacy Ross, Patrick Duvall and Brian Tryson. 

Tuesday through Sunday (different times), through December 9. 2081 Addison (near Shattuck). $32-$50. 843-4822;