Our Practical Heaven
by Anthony Clarvoe
directed by Allen McKelvey
originally produced at Aurora Theatre Company,
January 24, 2013
through March 3, 2013
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.
(Photo by David Allen. Pictured: Julia Brothers, Joy Carlin, Anne Darragh, Adrienne Walters, Blythe Foster, and Lauren Spencer.)
Tom Ross, Artistic Director: I first discovered Our Practical Heaven when it was submitted in Aurora's Global Age Project in the 2010-11 Season. The Global Age Project (GAP) is an annual festival of new plays that addresses life in the twenty-first century, solicits new works from established and emerging playwrights and culminates in a four-week festival of staged readings in February. The project, now in its eighth season, consists of four components: (1) a script submission process, (2) a series of staged readings of the chosen scripts, (3) the mounting of a main stage anchor play that is thematically tied to the festival, and (4) the development of plays discovered through the festival.
Our Practical Heaven was one of the four plays chosen from the hundreds of entries to the GAP festival. It was presented February 28, 2011 as a staged reading. Based on the strength of the script and the enthusiastic audience response, I invited Anthony to prepare it for a fully-staged production in the 2012-13 Season. It has gone through a series of readings and a workshop with its GAP director, Allen McKelvey, and with four of the actresses in the current production. We’ve created our own practical family over the past two years working on this play.
Our Practical Heaven is the perfect play for us to produce at this time. It serves as the main stage anchor play for the GAP program, which runs on four consecutive Mondays in the month of February, and, as the third Aurora main stage production to develop from the Global Age Project, it provides even more credibility to our successful GAP program. The subject is relevant because it’s about how we communicate in the 21st century. Anthony has created a richly textured script featuring six highly individualized female characters at a time when theatres across the country are looking for strong female roles. This play explores themes of generations, aging, environmental degradation, technology, inheritance, college, and more, bringing to life relevant issues faced in the 21st century. I liken the play to a modern day The Cherry Orchard with women sharing a house over the holidays.
In addition to incorporating modern scenic elements like slide, video and texting projections which are new areas for growth and exploration at Aurora, Anthony is one of the top playwrights in the Bay Area, he is nationally known, and he has a strong track record of success. He recently moved back to his native Bay Area from New York, and this production is his first since his return. We are honored and delighted to present his homecoming play.
Tom Ross, Artistic Director: The grant from the Edgerton Foundation allowed us an extra week of rehearsal time, which is invaluable with a new play. It enabled the two new cast members to integrate into the established team, and it gave the tech crew more time to work on the visuals. There are four projectors in the show which project a constant stream of visuals throughout the theatre, from text messaging to video animation and nature scenes. We are so grateful to the Edgerton Fund for providing this unique and highly valuable funding for new works.
Director: Allen McKelvey
Set Design: Mikiko Uesugi
Lighting Design: Michael Palumbo
Sound Design: Clifford Caruthers
Costume Design: Callie Floor
Choreographer: Dance Consultant: Chris Black
Video Designer: Micah J. Stieglitz
Cast: Adrienne Walters, Joy Carlin, Julia Brothers, Anne Darrah, Blythe Foster, Lauren Spencer