The Open Couple

by Dario Fo & Franca Rame
Directed by Mike Russo

SEPTEMBER 24 – OCTOBER 10, 2010

At the beginning of this hilarious farce about sexual mores, a wife is threatening suicide because of her husband’s infidelity. He can’t understand why he can’t have both wife and mistress. He gets an inkling when his wife takes a lover. When the couple is open on both sides, craftily notes the wife, “It becomes very drafty.” “A breezy delight, an entertainment with too much on its mind to be considered lightweight and too much wit to be mistaken for a polemic. It’s brazen, outlandish and pointed comedy.”– Marin Independent Journal.

Uncle Vanya

by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Mike Russo

25 June – 11 July 2010

Based on Chekhov’s own earlier work The Wood DemonUncle Vanya focuses on a professor and his much younger second wife visiting the rural homestead which provides them with their comfortable living. While Uncle Vanya has a rather uncertain and unhappy ending when it comes to the future of the characters, The Wood Demon was more directly positive. Uncle Vanya is considered by critics to be a reworking of The Wood Demon inspired by Chekhov’s visit to a prison island and witnessing life there.

In Uncle Vanya, Vanya is the brother of the professor’s late first wife and also the estate manager. He and the local doctor both fall hard for the professor’s wife, Yelena. Sonya, the professor’s daughter from his first marriage, is also helping to run the estate, and seeing her stepmother’s beauty and charm reminds her how unattractive she herself is and how unrequited her adoration for the doctor is, especially with Yelena on the scene.

The professor shows little affection for his family (brother-in-law, daughter, and mother) who have been running the estate; he instead announces plans to sell it off and move with Yelena to Finland because he cannot afford his lifestyle in Russia any longer. Tensions overflow and, in a fit of rage, Vanya attempts to shoot his brother-in-law, but fails. Later, Sonya and her grandmother discover Vanya has stolen morphine from the doctor and is suicidal, but they make him return the drugs and his plan is foiled.

The professor and Yelena are leaving the estate and all will continue as it has for years, ultimately. The play closes with the estate-living family going about their tasks, and Vanya complaining about how they must work so hard to support others and how little they have and how joyless life is for them. Sonya reminds him that they will rest when they die and receive rewards in heaven.

Bold Girls

by Rona Munro
Directed by Michael Russo

SEPTEMBER 2009

Rona Munro’s play Bold Girls is a drama about the harsh realities of life, particularly for women, during the Troubles in Belfast in the early 1990s. It was commissioned by 7:84 Scottish People’s Theatre and first performed at Cumbernauld Theatre, Strathclyde, on 27 September 1990, and subsequently toured. The play won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for 1990-91.

The play is set in 1991 in West Belfast. With their husbands either locked up or killed, Marie, Cassie and Nora are trying to get on with their lives, despite the bombs, burning buses and soldiers trampling the flower beds. Life must go on – after all, there’s still laundry to do and kids to feed. But when a mysterious young woman turns up on Marie’s doorstep and disrupts their girls’ night out, the devastating revelations which ensue will shatter dreams and threaten their friendship irrevocably.

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Competitive Tenderness

by Hannie Rayson
Directed by Michael Borenstein

MAY 2009

Dawn Snow has a fierce reputation—she reformed the prison system in Uganda.  Now, with local government reform high on the agenda, she is called upon to perform a similar task within the City of Greater Burke.  COMPETITIVE TENDERNESS is topical, satirical and even a little anarchic.  Hannie Rayson’s inspired farce takes a swipe at bureaucracy, corruption, romance and just about anything else that comes her way.

HANNIE RAYSON has written this play in response to the way in which managerialism has impacted on all our lives in general and on local government in particular. It’s about how once we were citizens but now we are customers.  “The question needs to be asked, she insists, is managerialism actually working? Or are we witnessing merely an excess of bureaucratisation? Competition policy has seeped into the collective consciousness, like an eleventh commandment. It is rapidly becoming a world where we worship at the altar of individualism, material capital and user pays.”

In addition to Competitive Tenderness, Hannie Rayson’s stage plays include Room to Move, Hotel Sorrento, Sloth, Falling from Grace and Scenes from a Separation, co-written with Andrew Bovell.  Hannie lives and works in Melbourne.

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