“Deep and highly entertaining work, consistently rich, raw and intense”  – Variety

When alcoholic patriarch Beverly Weston goes missing, his daughters Barbara, Ivy and Karen reluctantly return home to their mother Violet — cancer-stricken, drug-addled, and a bigger piece of work than ever. With in-laws, cousins, grandchildren and new beaus in tow, the entire Weston clan makes the journey to the family home, where old grievances are aired, family secrets are spilled, and cutting remarks—especially those from Violet—take deadly aim. Featuring a huge cast of Marin Theatre favorites, and in one of the first Bay Area professional production since the Broadway tour in 2009, Tracy Letts’ dark comedy is an acidic and acerbic take on the juicy American family drama.

Directed by MTC Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis (The Invisible Hand, Anne Boleyn), this huge Broadway and national hit was written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist of Bug and Killer Joe, which MTC produced in 2006.

Performance Schedule

Evenings

Tue - Sun 7pm

Matinees 

Sun (Preview) Sept 11, 4:00pm
Thu (Perspectives) Sept 22, 1:00pm
Sat, Sept 17 & Oct 1, 1pm
Sun Sept 18 & 25, Oct 2, 1pm

Ticket Prices

Performance Center
seating
Side
seating
Previews (Sept 8 - 11) $37 $37
Opening Night (Sept 13) $60 $55
Sat Eve $60 $55
Tue*, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sun Eve $49 $44
Matinees $49 $44
Best Deal (all shows, limited availability) n/a $25

* Excludes Opening Night.

Prices subject to change. 

Phone orders subject to a $10 per order fee; online orders subject to a $3 per order fee

Disabled seating is currently only available through the MTC Box Office (415.388.5208 or in person). We apologize for any inconvenience.

Discounts

GROUPS – Bring eight or more people to receive a $7 discount on tickets. Click here or call 415.388.5208.
SENIORS (65+) – $4 off any performances
MILITARY – $6 off all performances. Learn more
UNDER 30 – $22, all performances
EDUCATOR – $12, all performances (limit 2). Must teach at a Marin County School. Contact the Education Dept. to request.
TEENS – $10, all performances

Discount tickets are only available through the MTC Box Office (415.388.5208 or in person), unless stated otherwise.


MTC Engaged Special Events

AFTER WORDS

AFTER WORDS

After Most Shows

Join a member of our artistic staff (often with one or more members of the cast) for a Q&A discussion after every performance, except on Saturday evenings, and Opening and Closing Nights.

Cast

  • ​Arwen Anderson*

    ​Arwen Anderson*

    Barbara

    Arwen is delighted to return to MTC where she has appeared in Anne Boleyn, Circle Mirror Transformation, the world premiere of Bellwether and A Streetcar Named Desire. Regional theater credits include: King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, The Verona Project (world premiere) at California Shakespeare Theater; Let There Be Love, A Christmas Carol, Tales of the City (workshop) at American Conservatory Theater; An Accident, Mrs. Whitney, Expedition 6, The Rules of Charity (all world premieres), and Mauritius at Magic Theatre; 77% at San Francisco Playhouse; Love in American Times (world premiere) at San Jose Repertory Theatre; Miss Julie with Stanford Repertory Theatre/Strindberg Forum; Lobby Hero, The Shape of Things at Aurora Theatre Company; You Know When The Men Are Gone, 4 Adverbs with Word for Word Performing Arts Company as well as roles with TheatreWorks, Brava! For Women in the Arts, Marines Memorial Theatre, Encore Theatre Company, Central Works and Climate Theater. Her film work includes Hog Island, Ashley 22, and Dark Retreat. Anderson is a graduate of Wesleyan University.

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  • ​David Ari*

    ​David Ari*

    Bill

    David recently appeared at MTC in Anne Boleyn in the roles of George Villiers and Thomas Cromwell. David received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego, and is a recent transplant to the Bay Area. Career highlights include a best supporting actor nomination for his role in Los Angeles based Chalk Rep’s production of Family Planning (Ovation Award for Best Play), Beauty, Richard III, Full Circle (La Jolla Playhouse), and King Lear (Sierra Repertory Theater). All my heart to Heather for her endless love, patience, and support.

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  • ​Danielle Bowen*

    ​Danielle Bowen*

    Jean

    Danielle Bowen is thrilled to be making her MTC debut and to be returning to her hometown of Mill Valley. Regionally she's performed in The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy) at both The MUNY in St. Louis and North Shore Music Theatre, as well as at The Ivoryton Playhouse in All Shook Up (Natalie) (CT Critics Award). She performed as a member of ACT's Young Conservatory and as soloist at the Venetian Room in San Francisco and The House of Blues in Boston. BFA MT Emerson College. Thanks always to my family! daniellebowen.com! daniellebowen.com

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  • ​Anne Darragh*

    ​Anne Darragh*

    Mattie Fae

    Anne is delighted to return to Marin Theatre Company. Previous MTC productions include The Way West, Good People, The Good German, Communicating Doors, Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors, The Crucible and Shadowlands. Ms. Darragh has performed in numerous world premieres including the Eureka Theatre production of Angels in America, and, most recently, Whale’s Wake by Amy Sass with Ragged Wing Ensemble. Bay Area credits include A.C.T., Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Brava Theatre Center, Campo Santo, Encore Theatre, Magic Theatre, San Jose Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks and Z Space. Regional credits include Downtown Art Company (NYC), Ohio Theatre (NYC) and Singular Productions (LA). She is a company member of PlayGround and Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre Company. Film credits include Chris Brown’s award-winning Fannie, Annie and Danny. She is a graduate of UC Irvine and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thanks to Jasson and to her wonderful family.

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  • Sherman Fracher*

    Sherman Fracher*

    Violet

    Sherman appeared as Amanda Wingfield in MTC’s production of The Glass Menagerie. She has previously worked with Actors Theatre of Louisville (A Christmas Carol), Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Gertrude in Hamlet, Arkadina in The Seagull, Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire), The Human Race Theatre Company (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Other Desert Cities), Actors’ Express (Bug) and Georgia Shakespeare (Macbeth, A Christmas Story). Sherman lives on a small farm in Kentucky with her husband director Drew Fracher. Together they run Abiding Grace Farm Artisan Foods, focusing on pickles, relishes, and heirloom pork.

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  • ​Patrick Kelly Jones*

    ​Patrick Kelly Jones*

    Little Charles

    Patrick has performed with MTC in Gem of the OceanFailure: A Love Story, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and Bellwether as well as two theater for young audience shows and several readings and workshops. His recent credits include The Tempest (California Shakespeare Theater), The Heir Apparent (Aurora Theater), Sister Play (Magic Theater), and Peter and the Starcatcher (TheaterWorks). Other select regional credits include: Cymbeline and Misalliance (New York Classical Theatre), Step One: Plays with Instructions (The 52nd Street Project, NYC), You Can’t Take it With You (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Florida Studio Theatre), Arms and the Man (Great Lakes Theater), Vincent in Brixton (Cleveland Play House). Mr. Jones earned his MFA in Acting from Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House. patrickkellyjones.com

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  • ​Danielle Levin*

    ​Danielle Levin*

    Ivy

    Danielle is honored to be a part of MTC’s August: Osage County, having previously appeared in MTC productions including said Saïd, and My Name is Asher Lev. Recent productions include Central Works’ Robert Louis Stevenson: Jekyll and Hyde; Strangers, Babies with Shotgun Players; and Lauren Gunderson’s Emilie, La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight with Symmetry Theatre Company, where Danielle is an Associate Artist. Other Bay Area credits include productions with Aurora Theatre Company, Center REPertory Company, Crowded Fire, Just Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, TheatreWorks, and Word for Word.

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  • ​Joanne Lubeck*

    ​Joanne Lubeck*

    Karen

    Joanne recently returned to the Bay Area after ten years living in Los Angeles and is living the dream on the MTC stage. Joanne appeared last Summer in MTC Production of Charlotte’s Web. She has appeared in several independent films, National Commercial spots, and has provided voice-over talent on multiple projects. Joanne has also been involved with Teatro De Facto, an LA-based theatre company that creates self-devised, movement-based theatre. Currently Joanne is also serving as Associate Producer with Finish Line Features, a Documentary Film Company that most recently produced the award-winning documentary, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre from UC Santa Barbara, and spent a year studying acting at the British American Drama Academy, in London. Joanne is a proud member of the SAG-AFTRA and the Actors’ Equity Association.

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  • ​Will Marchetti*

    ​Will Marchetti*

    Beverly

    Will has been a Bay Area actor most of his life, beginning as a young man in the early 1950’s up until his most recent performance in The Lyons at the Aurora Theatre. He has acted in all the major Bay Area theaters and many of the smaller regional theaters in a variety of roles where he is a highly regarded actor. Will’s work has been acknowledged by Bay Area Critics Awards several times and also for the Dean Goodman Lifetime Achievement Award. He has appeared in a number of world premiere plays by many (now) well-known playwrights where he originated the roles he played, most notably in Sam Shepard’s award-winning Fool For Love at the Magic Theatre that transferred to New York in the 1980’s. Another milestone is Will’s history is here at MTC. He not only acted and directed at MTC in the early years but also was Artistic Director twice. Will was a key player in establishing MTC as a professional theatre company as it evolved from a community theatre (along with his wife, Susan Brashear who is now a Co-Director of TAM High’s drama program- CTE). As a playwright, Will’s plays have been produced locally at San Jose Stage, the Phoenix Theatre and the Shelton Theatre. He continues to write, direct, act and produce. Will is happy to be returning to MTC after all these years, to perform with this distinguished cast. He’d like to thank his family for their patience and support and to express gratitude to the many who have followed his work over the years.

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  • ​Kathleen Pizzo

    ​Kathleen Pizzo

    Johnna

    Kathleen is excited to make her Marin Theatre Company debut with its production of August: Osage County. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she recently appeared as Marela in Anna in the Tropics at 6th Street Playhouse. Her film credits include Clubbers and A Ghost of a Chance. Ms. Pizzo is a graduate of Sacramento State University and A.C.T.’s Summer Training Congress.

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  • ​Peter Ruocco*

    ​Peter Ruocco*

    Steve

    Peter last appeared at MTC in Seagull. Other local credits include Fat Pig at Aurora Theatre, Mark Jackson’s Faust and Mary Stuart at Shotgun Players, Twelfth Night at CalShakes, Future Me at Theatrefirst and Moby Dick, Copenhagen and The Wonderings of Odysseus at Stanford Rep. He has also worked regionally at The American Place Theatre, The Seattle Shakespeare Festival, and Perseverance Theatre in Alaska. His film and TV work includes You, Me and Dupree, Lost, Trauma and The PBS documentary Jack Hall. He holds an MFA in Theatre Directing from the University of Hawaii. 

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  • ​Robert Sicular*

    ​Robert Sicular*

    Charlie

    Robert is a Bay Area native, and is delighted to return to MTC where he was previously seen as William Fox in Fetch Clay, Make Man, Marvin in Magic Forest Farm and Mr. Lockhart (aka the Devil) in The Seafarer. He has also performed locally with the Berkeley Rep, ACT, Word for Word, PlayGround, San Jose Rep, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and the California/Berkeley Shakespeare Festival. Other theaters include the Denver Center Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Seattle Rep, Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sacramento Theatre Company, the Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Santa Fe Shakespeare Festivals, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, and for eight years, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Screen credits include the Sci-Fi comedy thriller, Never Die Twice; the Bollywood potboiler, Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya; and the role of “Dad” in Josh Kornbluth’s Love and Taxes. Also, recurring roles on General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. Robert attended the University of California at Berkeley and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. robertsicular.com

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  • ​Ryan Tasker*

    ​Ryan Tasker*

    Sheriff Deon Gilbeau

    Ryan is returning to MTC after appearing last season in Anne Boleyn. Other recent roles include Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) and Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) with the Livermore Shakespeare Festival, and Macduff (Macbeth) and Fluellen (Henry V) with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. He has also appeared with the Word for Word Performing Arts Company (where he is an Associate Artist), Aurora Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, Shotgun Players, San Jose Repertory, Just Theater, Theatre Rhinoceros, TheatreFIRST, Willows Theatre Company, Sierra Repertory Theatre, theatre Q, and Pacific Repertory Theatre, among others.

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Creative Team

  • Tracy Letts

    Tracy Letts

    playwright

    Tracy Letts is the author of the plays Superior DonutsAugust: Osage CountyKiller JoeBugMan From Nebraska (Pulitzer Prize finalist and named one of Time Magazine’s Top Ten Plays of 2003) and an adaptation of Chekov’s Three Sisters. He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His appearances there include: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf(Tony Award) Homebody/KabulThe Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross, Three Days of Rain, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile.  Film appearances include: Guinevere, U.S. Marshalls and Chicago Cab. TV appearances include: Homeland , The District, Profiler, The Drew Carey Show, Home Improvement and Seinfeld. Tracy Letts made his directing debut at the Lookingglass Theatre with Glen Berger’s play Great Men of Science, No’s 21 & 22.

    He wrote the screenplay for Bug which was made into a feature film directed by William Friedkin and starred Ashley Judd.  William Friedkin also directed the feature film adaptation of Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey with a screenplay by Letts.

    Tracy Letts was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for his play August: Osage County. The feature film version, which he also adapted, was produced by the Weinstein Company and starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. The film received two Academy Award Nominations.

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  • Jason Minadakis^

    Jason Minadakis^

    director

    Jasson is in his tenth season as artistic director of MTC, where he has directed The Invisible HandAnne Boleyn, The Convert, The Whale, Failure: A Love Story, the world premiere of Lasso of Truth, The Whipping Man (San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for best production and best acting ensemble), Waiting for Godot, Othello: the Moor of Venice, The Glass Menagerie, Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice, the world premiere of Seagull, Happy Now?, Equivocation (SFBATCC Award for best director), the world premiere of Sunlight, Lydia, The Seafarer, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Streetcar Named Desire, said Saïd, Love Song and The Subject Tonight is Love. As artistic director of Actor’s Express Theatre Company, he directed The Pillowman, Bug, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Echoes of Another Man, Killer Joe, Burn This, The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Blue/Orange and Bel Canto. As producing artistic director of Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, he directed Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Chagrin Falls (2002 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Production) and numerous others, including 19 productions of Shakespeare. Regional credits include The Whipping Man at Virginia Stage Company, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hamlet at Georgia Shakespeare, Copenhagen at Playhouse on the Square (2003 Ostrander Theatre Award for Best Dramatic Production) and Bedroom Farce at Wayside Theatre.

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  • ​Ashley Holvick

    ​Ashley Holvick

    costume designer

    Ashley is currently MTC’s Costume Shop manager. She previously designed the costumes for Anne Boleyn and the MTC Family Series production of Charlotte’s Web. Other recent work includes San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Romeo and Juliet and Mugwumpin’s Blockbuster Season. Ashley has designed for many theaters and institutions throughout the Bay Area including The Aurora Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, Pacific Repertory, UC Berkeley, Just Theatre and TheatreFirst, among many others. Ashley has an MFA from San Francisco State University. Her work can be seen next in The Rules at the San Francisco Playhouse and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Shotgun Players.

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  • J. B. Wilson+

    J. B. Wilson+

    scenic designer

    J.B. Wilson has designed nineteen sets for MTC, including Jasson Minadakis’s Othello, Tiny Alice, Equivocation, Sunlight, The Seafarer, and said Saïd, along with Fences, Seven Guitars, Displaced, Beggar’s Holiday, Fugitive Kind, The Hairy Ape, Company, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, All In the Timing, Wilder! Wilder! Wilder!, Lips Together Teeth Apart, and Inspecting Carol. Over the past 37 years Wilson’s extensive credits have included work with directors Joy Carlin, Kent Gash, Amy Glazer, Robert Kelley, John Lion, Murray Mednick, Timothy Near, Carey Perloff, Lee Sankowich, Dianna Shuster, Tony Taccone, Albert Takazauckas, Richard E.T. White, Robert Woodruff, Jerry Zaks, and many others.  Wilson is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, and taught at Stanford for nine years before joining the faculty at San Francisco State in 1997. He is grateful to have been honored with many awards for his work.

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  • ​Kurt Landisman+

    ​Kurt Landisman+

    lighting designer

    Kurt has designed lighting for over 40 of MTC’s productions, including Swimmers, Choir Boy, The Whale, August Wilson’s Fences, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, Topdog/Underdog, Othello, the Moor of Venice and Seven Guitars. His lighting designs have been seen at most Bay Area theaters including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Aurora Theatre Company, Center REP, San Francisco Opera, Cal Shakes, Magic Theatre and TheatreWorks. He has received numerous San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Drama-Logue awards. Nationally, Landisman’s designs have been seen at Arizona Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, Los Angeles Opera, Minnesota Opera, Sacramento Opera, Virginia Opera, Tulsa Opera, Ballet Arizona, Guthrie Theatre and Cincinnati Playhouse, as well as Off-Broadway at Circle Rep and Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. His association with playwright Sam Shepard included the world premieres of True West and Fool for Love. Internationally, his designs have been seen in Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai. kurtlandisman.com

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  • ​Theodore J.H. Hulsker

    ​Theodore J.H. Hulsker

    sound designer

    Theodore is returning to MTC after having recently done the sound design for Anne Boleyn. Previous work includes Swimmers and My Mañana Comes at MTC; and Assassins, Woyzeck, Strangers Babies, Harry Thaw Hates Everybody and Our Town with the Shotgun Players. His work can also frequently be heard at the San Francisco Playhouse where past credits include Into the Woods, Seminar and Tree. He is a Mugwumpin Company member and past work with them includes The Great Big Also, Luster and Blockbuster Season. In 2012 He received the Eric Landismen Fellowship for emerging designer and has been thrice nominated for a BATCC award for Sound Design. In addition to his work as a sound designer, he curates a monthly art event called Klanghaus in North Oakland. theodore-hulsker.squarespace.com

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  • Jessica Berman

    Jessica Berman

    dialect coach

    Jessica is a dialect, voice, and text coach. As a teacher and coach, Jessica has led dialect workshops and voice warm ups for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and taught voice and speech at UC Berkeley, in A.C.T.’s Summer Training Congress, and at Academy of Art University. Recent coaching credits include Sojourners, runboyrun, and Fred’s Diner (Magic Theatre), Fences (Cal Shakes), Punk Rock (A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory), Summertime and Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act (UC Berkeley), and Jerusalem (SF Playhouse).  Jessica holds an MA in Professional Voice Practice from the Birmingham School of Acting, and an MFA in Voice Studies from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. 

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  • ​Sean McStravick*

    ​Sean McStravick*

    stage manager

    Sean has previously stage managed MTC’s productions of The Invisible Hand, Anne Boleyn, Gem of the Ocean, My Mañana Comes, The Oldest Boy, Choir Boy, The Convert, The Whale, Fetch Clay, Make Man and Good People. He has worked for numerous Bay Area theaters including Shotgun Players, 42nd Street Moon and Willows Theatre Company, where he was the production stage manager from 2010 to 2012. Regionally, he has also supported productions at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Blue Trunk Theatre Company, Back Seat Theatre, the Reduced Shakespeare Company and Actors Alliance of San Diego. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

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  • ​Lizabeth Stanley

    ​Lizabeth Stanley

    prop master

    Lizabeth Stanley is thrilled to return for this very exciting 50th Anniversary season. In addition to last season at MTC, her recent credits include THE UNFORTUNATES and CHESTER BAILEY at A.C.T, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS and YEAR OF THE ROOSTER at Impact Theatre and A HOUSE TOUR OF THE INFAMOUS PORTER FAMILY MANSION WITH TOUR GUIDE WESTON LUDLOW LONDONDERRY at ZSpace. Lizabeth has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from The Ohio State University.

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  • Trevor Scott Floyd

    Trevor Scott Floyd

    assistant director

    Trevor joined Marin Theatre Company as an Artistic Direction intern in  2015 and is thrilled to be a part of the artistic team. Originally from the beaches of South Carolina, he graduated with a dual major in Theatre and Political Science from Clemson University before trading in the Palmetto trees for the Redwoods. Professionally, he has served as an Assistant Director for Marin Theatre Company (The Invisible Hand and My Mañana Comes), The Warehouse Theatre (Avenue Q), and GLOW Lyric Theatre (Rent. La Boheme). He also directed and produced the 2016 Holocaust Remembrance Day staged reading of Jeff Cohen's The Soap Myth at MTC in conjunction with the National Jewish Theatre Foundation. He is committed to telling stories which reflect the diverse make up of our world, and to promoting underrepresented and new voices both on stage and off.

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* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Reviews

  • ‘August: Osage County’ Worth Revisiting, Canonizing

    J.B. Wilson’s set for Marin Theatre Company’s “August: Osage County,” which opened Tuesday, Sept. 15, looks like it could spring offstage and whack audience members upside the head.

    That weapon is just a table, around which three generations of a family eat together, for the first time in years, in the wake of a ghastly shock. But that table, placed at the center of a wooden skeleton of a three-story house, is enormous, angled steeply from a second story down to the stage. (In the show’s big meal scene, actors sit on the steps of two staircases, one on either side of it.) The set piece’s boards widen as they get closer to the audience, creating the illusion that the table is even longer than it actually is, stretching toward a vanishing point skyward, like a bludgeon held in the hand of god.

    It doesn’t actually strike the audience, of course, but that table nonetheless fulfills the promise of its expressionistic design, meting out dolorous punishment on the cursed Weston family, and on one member in particular, who later says she “was spoiling for a fight.”

    The curse on this rural Oklahoma clan isn’t as explicit as it is in, say, Greek tragedy. The play alludes only vaguely to ancestors’ genocide of Native Americans, and no god or prophet directly tells the audience that the sins of the parents — addiction, squandered talent, meager love, unfair expectations and an incisive breed of cruelty that homes in on unhealed wounds — must be visited upon the children. But Tracy Letts’ drama carries so much moral heft, paints so full a portrait of the pain that only family members can induce, that its doom feels religiously ordained.

    “August: Osage County” caused great fanfare when it premiered in 2007, winning the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for best play the following year. Revisiting it today, Jasson Minadakis, who directs a 13-member cast, makes the case that the play wasn’t just a success of its moment but rather an enduring and unique contribution to the tradition of the American family play. If “The Glass Menagerie” is a story of the prodigal son leaving home, and in “Buried Child” the prodigal son comes back to a home that’s forgotten him, then “August: Osage County” writes the next chapter. We now live in a world where children, having long departed the family homestead, only visit. Ours is a society, the play attests, that will one day be defined by our failure to care for, to simply be with, our elders as they sicken and near the end of life — not that those elders make it easy, or even possible, to do so. A defining image in this production is its final one: Violet (Sherman Fracher), the matriarch, having driven out all her relatives by blood and marriage, can seek solace only by weeping in the lap of Johnna (Kathleen Pizzo), the Native American help her husband, Beverly (Will Marchetti), hired.

    Minadakis’ cast is excellent in achieving that rare quality that is the backbone of every great drama: In each conflict, both diametrically opposed sides feel urgently, absolutely in the right. A special commendation goes to Arwen Anderson as Barbara, Violet’s imperious daughter whose declaration at the close of act two, “I’m running things now!” feels both righteous and foreboding of still further hell. A veteran of Bay Area stages, Anderson often plays roles in which she radiates goodness and openness, so to see her rankle, bloviate and flail with equal command is a true treat, but just one in a production that’s full of them — assuming you can stand how close to home it might hit.


    — Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle Read full review
  • ‘August: Osage County,’ Marin Theatre Company’s Cruel Summer

    The house is falling apart, and it’s been falling apart for a very long time. That’s the impression one gets when one looks at J.B. Wilson’s remarkable multistory set for “August: Osage County,” the play that kicks off Marin Theatre Company’s 50th season. It looks like the rotting wooden skeleton of a house, with many broken planks. In the center is a long table steeply tilted toward the audience that nicely symbolizes the unease of an excruciatingly uncomfortable dinner scene that makes up the second of three acts.

    The family whose house it is has been falling apart for a long time, too. The matriarch, Violet Weston (Sherman Fracher, grimly amusing in her alarming instability), pops pills to the point of staggering incoherence, and when she does have enough presence of mind to put words together, they’re downright vicious. Her husband, Beverly (longtime Marin actor and former MTC artistic director Will Marchetti, wry and grounded) is more philosophical and quietly tolerant, but also emotionally checked out, deliberately losing himself in drink. And when Beverly disappears one day, the rest of the family arrives to show just how messed up the Westons really are.

    “August: Osage County” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts, whose play “Killer Joe” was a turning point for Marin Theatre Company in 2006. “August” premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2007 and went to Broadway the same year. It first hit the Bay Area in a post-Broadway tour in 2009.

    It’s a darkly funny and emotionally grueling drama that lasts three and a half hours with two intermissions, but it doesn’t seem long at all in artistic director Jasson Minadakis’ compellingly tense staging with a terrific cast of Bay Area actors, about half of them from Marin. The mood is highly accentuated by the gloomy lighting of Kurt Landisman, designing his 50th show for MTC.

    Danielle Levin is a sympathetically long-suffering Ivy, the relatively quiet one of the three daughters and the only one who stayed home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, enduring her mother’s constant criticism and steady decline. Arwen Anderson forcefully tries to hold everything together as eldest daughter Barbara, who’s trying to keep it quiet that her marriage to fellow college professor Bill (a mild-mannered and conflict-averse David Ari of Sausalito) is falling apart. Their sullen daughter Jean (a prickly Danielle Bowen, a Mill Valley native) just wants to smoke pot and avoid the family drama altogether.

    Youngest sister Karen (an inanely chatty Joanne Lubeck of San Anselmo) makes a big deal about how she’s always fallen way too hard for horrible men, but it’s different now because she’s she’s head over heels for a really great guy. Of course, it’s immediately apparent that her new fiance, Steve (a skin-crawlingly oily Peter Ruocco of Sausalito), isn’t exactly breaking her streak of rotten beaus.

    Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (a garrulous Anne Darragh of Lagunitas) is always putting her son down, the introverted Little Charles (Marin native Patrick Kelly Jones, anxious and withdrawn), much to the annoyance of her good-hearted husband, Charlie (affable Robert Sicular), who’s doing his best to sidestep the Weston family minefield of cruelty.

    Relatively untouched by all this drama is the unflappable young Cheyenne housekeeper Johnna (a pleasant and deadpan Kathleen Pizzo). Ryan Tasker makes a gentle visitor as the local sheriff, an old classmate of Barbara’s.

    The play can be difficult to watch sometimes, either because you know something devastating is about to happen or because you can’t guess what’s next but know it can’t be good. But for the same reason, it’s impossible to look away. It’s a fascinatingly bleak and ruefully comical exploration of what the bonds of kinship really mean and whether they can be stronger than the aggressively dysfunctional relationships that are tearing the family apart.

    — Sam Hurwitt, Marin IJ Read full review
  • Marin Theatre Company’s ‘August: Osage County’ a huge achievement

    You might not think that a three-hour play about family dysfunction would be so engaging that a good portion of the audience would probably be quite happy to keep it going for another hour or two. Yet, that was the feeling I had on opening night of Marin Theatre Company’s brilliant production of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County.
    Recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and that year’s Tony Award for Best Play, it is an artfully designed, amoral synthesis of tragedy and situational comedy. There are no heroes to celebrate in Letts’ world, nor victims to arouse our sympathies. No obvious comic situations, either. Instead, while the parade of misery on stage may be disturbing at first, it can easily transform into a hunger for just one more awful revelation.

    Shadenfreude? Probably. But to enjoy watching Letts’ characters flop around like fish in a net, struggling to extricate themselves from dilemmas that are almost entirely of their own making is nothing to feel guilty about. Since most families have problems of one kind or another, it’s comforting to learn that the author’s own personal history (August is semi-autobiographical) and its dramatized echos are filled with more turmoil than most of us have ever imagined.

    Of course, there’s more to it than that. Letts is a master storyteller who knows how to take the darker elements of present-day American popular culture—fraught daytime soaps, heavy-breathing Telemundo romances, voyeuristic films that fill moviehouses, real-life scandals, sex and violence that infect everyday society—and integrate them into a rewarding evening at the theater. That takes extraordinary skill.

    Crisply directed by Jasson Minadakis, MTC’s excellent cast makes the most of this rich dramatic  material. The first scene is the key to everything that follows. Will Marchetti, one of Marin’s favorite actors, portrays Beverly Weston, poet patriarch of the Weston clan, who leads off with a rambling, alcohol-infused discourse that includes references to fellow poets T.S. Eliot and John Berryman, interspersed with confessions about his addiction, fears of aging and approaching mortality. He describes years of battles with his force-of-nature-prescription-drug-addict wife Violet (Sherman Fracher) and how the two of them have reached a detente—“She takes pills and I drink.” Finally, perhaps aware that help of another kind may soon be needed, he hires Johnna (Kathleen Pizzo), a soulful young Native American girl, to be the family cook and housekeeper.

    With these elements in place, Letts takes us off to the races. It’s five days later and Beverly has disappeared. Fearing the worst, the Weston clan gathers from near and far. These include Violet’s caustic sister, Mattie Fae (Anne Darragh), her long-suffering husband Charlie (Robert Sicular) and their repressed son “Little” Charles (Patrick Kelly Jones); Violet and Beverly’s three daughters, tough-minded Barbara (Arwen Anderson), her estranged husband Bill (David Ari) and their lonely teenage daughter Jean (Danielle Bowen); Karen (Joanne Lubeck) and her philandering fiance Steve (Peter Ruocco); and timid Ivy (Danielle Levin), whose dream is to run off to New York and start a new life with Little Charles.

    Their worst fears are confirmed when Sheriff Deon Gilbeau (Ryan Tasker) brings news that Beverly’s boat and body have been found in a nearby lake. That initiates about an hour of furious back-biting, accusations, counter-accusations and recriminations, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on an American stage. But, as I said before, once you get into the swing of things, it’s fun to watch. My only caveat about the production is that J.B. Wilson’s skeletal three-story scenic design, with its A-frame roofline and raked dining table in the center, creates an awkward playing space for actors.

    August: Osage County may not be great literature, but it’s a huge achievement for Letts—and for Marin Theatre Company, as well.

    — Charles Brousse, Pacific Sun Read full review
  • Cautionary Tale of Family Rancor

    Vitriolic wit permeates this dark comedy in a depressingly accurate portrayal of the modern American family. Flashes of poetry lash out through mumbling exchanges and misunderstood conversations typical of disillusioned relationships. Family members talk and shout at each other, unwilling to listen before replying, deliberately twisting words, and desperately unhappy. Lighting designer Kurt Landisman expertly weaves a story through careful illumination—harsh daylight for the main action, soft for supporting vignettes, and semi-darkness silhouetting poignant tableaux of the grieving family huddled in pain, watching TV, or quietly reading. Beverly, the patriarch, goes missing and is eventually found drowned after committing suicide. His wife turns to her addiction for solace, ruling with cruel wordplay until her daughter snaps under the poisonous atmosphere, ripping apart the already broken gathering. August: Osage County heightens the drama many families suffer from, spotlighting how casual quips can turn into hurtful exchanges and true pain when we inflict them on those we love. In the lobby, discussions came up of re-evaluating what to say during holidays; perhaps comments like “Elbows off the table! Were you born in a barn?” are not appropriate or constructive, but serve simply to wound.

    August: Osage County ramps up in the second act into spine-tingling drama due to the tempestuous relationship of Barbara (Arwen Anderson) with her mother, Violet (Sherman Fracher). Anderson’s performance in the confrontation is sensational. She moves from irritated sniping to seething at the emotional jabs, and righteous fury, thundering out “I’m running things now!” leaving the audience catching their breath. Fracher’s physicality makes the role; she stumbles up and down the teetering set, kneeling, swaggering, and falling with reckless abandon. Her breakdown of grief for Beverly (Will Marchetti) takes powerful form as she crawls upstairs, clutching at the wood, crying out for her lost husband. Danielle Bowen (Jean) is the odd one out as the youngest—present, but not seen as a contributor. Her casual, wannabe bad girl front hides a dangerously innocent teenage girl.

    Running through the play is a theme of living in the present, and embracing what that means, good or bad. It is shown in Ivy’s (Danielle Levin) romantic notions, Bill’s (David Ari) pursuit of a younger woman, and Violet’s jaded vision of female body image. The supporting cast is riveting, from Robert Sicular’s awkward speech of grace before dinner as Charlie to Kathleen Pizzo’s (Johnna) comforting and occasionally daring interactions. Realistic Native American characters are rare, and she is a grounding presence in the mayhem onstage.

    Ashley Holvick’s costume designs underline the authentic feel of the family. Clothing is soiled, well used, and sloppy or starkly understated in an intimate reflection of each character. Barbara’s journey descends from elegant lines of a perfect suburban housewife to underwear and old pajamas. J.B. Wilson’s sets of naked beams crisscross in a chaotic jumble, allowing for intimate family moments while maintaining the isolation of characters such as Johnna in the attic, or Violet in a Spartan bedroom. Dialog becomes the set dressing of the unadorned dwelling, painting a visual picture in the mind, rather than handing over the interior on a silver platter. A strength of theatre over cinema is that imagination still plays a vital role in the story’s creation, rather than relying on polished special effects. The bare house is filled with emotion, rather than objects, colored by our own family history. Marin Theatre Company has brilliantly set up an in depth display thanks to the work of dramaturg Lydia Garcia, including a board for post it notes from audience members talking about what family means to them. Take a moment to peruse them—sentiments vary wildly from statements that family is “the best most important part of my life” to merely “awkward holiday dinners”. Detailed analysis continues into the bathrooms, which feature hanging plaques about life on the plains in Oklahoma.

    August: Osage County is a bleak examination of human nature, and our propensity to attack those we love instead of building them up. Marin Theatre Company presents a clever, gloomy depiction of family that serves as a reminder not to take our relationships for granted, but to nurture them. August: Osage County features a stellar cast in a Pulitzer Prize winning play that is not for the faint of heart, delving into the loathsome depths of frustrated dreams.

    — Alexa Chipman, Imagination Lane Read full review
  • ‘August: Osage County’ sweats with spiteful situations

    Marin Theatre Company opens its 50th Anniversary Season with a riveting story chronicling a family who gathers together for support, but attacks with accusations and strife. 

    Playwright Tracy Letts has written a sharply drawn observation of self-destructive characters whose actions set them on a collision course. The play won both a TONY and a Pulitzer Prize for its ferocious portrayals.

    Director Jasson Minadakis brings out such intense and believable characters from the actors, it feels as though we are passengers on their inevitable train wreck.

    The title refers to an Osage County homestead outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the hot days of August. Violet, the matriarch of the family, demands her daughters help her cope with the disappearance of her alcoholic husband Beverly, a cameo role by veteran Will Marchetti.

    Drug-woozy Violet distrusts everyone and does little to cope with anything. Petite Sherman Fracher is almost too convincing in this role as a caustic, nasty druggie. Violet’s cruel remarks are matched only by her sister Mattie Fae (Anne Darragh) who relentlessly demeans both her husband Charlie (Robert Sicular) and son (Patrick Kelly Jones). Where did these women learn such spiteful skills?

    Violet’s grown daughters reluctantly join their mother, each with her own hidden agenda and a target pinned to her back. They are helpless in the face of Violet’s devastating destruction.

    Ivy (Danielle Levin) has cared for her callous mother for years. It’s no wonder she wants off the firing line and into a new and secret life.

    Barbara (Arwen Anderson) is the take-charge successful type, so she drags her estranged husband (David Ari) and rebellious daughter (Danielle Bowen) into the mix to uphold appearances. It doesn’t work.

    Third sister Karen (Joanne Lubeck) whirls in from her fantasy world (Florida, no less) with a self-absorbed personality and a randy beau (Peter Ruocco). Considering his indiscretions, it’s good this sister is so self-absorbed. At least she has plausible deniability.

    The role played by Kathleen Pizzo as the Cheyenne gal hired to help the household is quiet and soothing. It’s the only calm spot in this wickedly fierce drama. Another small anchor in this maelstrom is Ryan Tasker as the handsome and now-divorced Sheriff.

    “August: Osage County” delivers much more than astounding acting in bitter situations. This remarkable drama is peppered with laugh-out-loud moments in a dramatically sparse set by J. B. Wilson. Although three hours in length, the actors’ spillover into the audience keeps the energy high. There was not a nodding head in the house.

    — Cari Lynn Pace, Marinscope Read full review

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