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Dry Powder

"Lacerating...nuanced...extraordinarily timely." ~Time Out New York

After throwing himself a lavish engagement party in the same week that his private equity firm forced job cuts at a national retailer, Rick is facing a PR disaster complete with angry protesters...



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Today's DRY POWDER profile is of actor Kevin Kemp. Kevin plays Jeff, the outsider in this shark-infested New York City world of finance, being the CEO of an American luggage company based in Sacramento. Kevin answered these questions from our intern Julia about his character and himself. Julia Netzer:. What qualities of your character do you see in yourself? Kevin Kemp: It is always tricky to know if the characteristics that you see in your role are intrinsic in the writing, or placed there by your subconscious knowing you are going to play this role! As actors whenever we read a script, knowing we are about to play that part, we are already placing ourselves in that situation, finding ourselves in the writing, and so naturally our character acquires our qualities. In a way, the character has all of my qualities, because there is no character. There is just me, in this fictional circumstance, choosing to believe that it is true. JN: Do you have any relationship to the finance world? Have you learned anything about this world working on Dry Powder? KK: I studied business as part of my higher education training whilst at college, before ultimately going to drama school, but that was all the knowledge I had. Whilst conducting research for this play I learned a huge amount! It was like a crash course in finance and business! I had to research the meaning of all the terms in the play, and then try to understand the context of how they were being used in the story. I spoke to a number of business owners in order to better understand their world and watched documentaries to further that knowledge. Once we entered rehearsal, we worked together to ensure that we were on the same page, and had a tight grasp of all the language. It was an awesome ride, one that I hope the audience can really enjoy with us! JN. What do you feel is the significance of doing this particular show in Berkeley at this time? KK: I love this script. I have never worked on a script like it. It is bold in scope and eloquent in execution. Plus it is really funny! So I feel that it is significant purely in its originality. However further to this, I think that there are two main themes that really stick out to me. I don't want to say too much, as I think the play explores these with more nuance than I possibly can. One is privilege. Characters in the play talk about their high levels of education and the obscene amounts of money they make seemingly unaware how without one it can be impossible to obtain the other. In the next breath, they blame the unemployed, in a common rhetoric heard often from our television sets. The play highlights well male privilege also, showing our female lead, performing her tasks with perfection, while continuously apologizing and villainized for her actions. The other theme that strikes me is corruption. It runs swiftly and confidently through the script. As has been said of monarchs, emperors and dictators of the past and perhaps can be said of today's super-rich "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton, 1887 JN:.Is there anything else you'd like Aurora fans to know? KK: I love this show. I love this creative team. I love this theatre. Come and share it with us! Thanks, Kevin - check again Monday for our final profile, actor Jeremey Kahn!

Today we profile actor Emily Jeanne Brown, who plays Jenny, one of two managing directors in "Dry Powder." Jenny is a whiz with numbers, analysis and squeezing every dollar out of a deal. Once again, questions are provided by Julia Netzer, who asked Emily to write about her character and the play: Julia Netzer: What qualities of your character do you see in yourself? Emily Jeanne Brown: It has been such a pleasure digging into the ruthlessness of Jenny, because despite her brutal lack of empathy, there are actually more profound ways that I relate to her than ways I think we are different. This is a seriously intelligent, driven, ambitious young woman who has found validation through her achievements. As a woman who has always been driven by my intellect and validated in my talent, I have felt first hand the tension between building intimate and committed relationships and working toward my own lofty goals and aspirations. The difference is that I am in the art world, and Jenny operates in a world of numbers, endless hours and corporate pressure, which, I am guessing, allows women even less flexibility to balance human connection with professional ambition. JN: Do you have any relationship to the finance world? Have you learned anything about this world working on Dry Powder? EJB: I really had no personal relationship to the finance world before I began work on this play. It has been fascinating to go from knowing nothing about private equity to getting a crash course in "Private Equity and finance 101", and to see how my interest level in the material has deepened throughout that process. Before we began rehearsals, I really had no personal interest in business or finance. But working through the dense language and beginning to comprehend the inner workings of this capital-driven world, combined with an awareness of how that plays out in the larger capitalistic structure that we all participate in as US Americans, has been extremely juicy, and even made me want to go to business school for a hot second.... it's crazy to get a taste of how seductive that world can be. JN: What do you feel is the significance of doing this particular show in Berkeley at this time? EJB: I think in the Bay Area we like to fancy ourselves progressive in every way, and I also think we like to pretend that as a community we are less privileged than we are. I think this play shows us a group of people who operate in ways we could not imagine, with amounts of money that many of us will never have our hand in, but at the same time it asks us to look at our own cultural "bubble" and examine the ways money influences our lives, the choices we are willing to make for financial gain, or even perceived stability, and the things we turn a blind eye to as participants in a capitalist system. I think its also important that in our current political climate, we shift from demonizing individual human beings as the root of our political crisis, to critiquing the socio-political systems that have lead to the corruption of individuals. JN: Is there anything else you'd like Aurora fans to know? EJB: This play is sharp, dense, funny, fun, dare I say... sexy? It's just a totally unexpected, slick, electric world that is kind of exhilarating to dive into for an hour and a half. Come have a laugh and lots to think about when you leave the theater. Thanks, Emily! Look for our next profile tomorrow.

Today we begin to feature posts on our amazing DRY POWDER cast. These questions were compiled by intern extraordinaire, Julia Netzer. Off the bat, we bring you Aldo Billingslea who plays Rick, the head honcho of the securities firm that is the center of the action, and whose engagement party (with an elephant!) is scrutinized by the press. We asked Aldo for his thoughts about his character and the themes in DRY POWDER: Julia Netzer: What qualities of your character do you see in yourself? Aldo Billingslea: Rick as a CEO likes to be in control and likes status. I’m working on that, but right now, that’s very “Aldo”! JN: Do you have any relationship to the finance world? Have you learned anything about this world working on Dry Powder? AB: I learned sometimes there is no skin in the game for the private equity company if they execute a dividend recap. (an additional debt burden for the acquired company), so that there is no vested interest in the long-term health of the business for the private equity company and even less towards the bulk of its employees. JN: What do you feel is the significance of doing this particular show in Berkeley at this time? AB: A play that effectively holds the mirror up to society is always relevant, particularly when it addresses business ethics and issues of gender inequality. JN: Is there anything else you'd like Aurora fans to know? AB: Jeremy Kahn’s character, Seth, has a line that says, “That’s having vision.” Casting an African-American in the role of the CEO of this private equity firm is also about having vision. Billionaire Robert Smith, the only African-American wealthier than Oprah is one of few top-tier private equity CEOs. I’m not certain that this casting has been done before, but I suspect it hasn’t. It’s a very strong statement by the Aurora and one of the reasons why his (Tom Ross') vision is valued as an artistic director. Thanks, Aldo! Check back for another profile on Tuesday. Learn more about DRY POWDER, and buy tickets, at www.auroratheatre.org

@AuroraTheatreCo Thank you, Lily! LEAPING MAN for EUREKA DAY! https://twitter.com/LilyJaniak/status/988126602109202438

@AuroraTheatreCo Hey! It looks like Sun, 7pm (3/25) is the best time to grab those $20 RUSH TIX for A NUMBER this week. Come see us 30 minutes before showtime! http://www.auroratheatre.org/a-number

@AuroraTheatreCo A NUMBER clones itself again tonight! We're sold out, but RUSH TIX available at the door for only $20! http://www.auroratheatre.org/discounts