Company History

Over its 25+ years, Aurora has “risen to become one of the most important regional theatres in the area” (SF Chronicle).


Aurora Theatre Company was launched in 1992 by a group of professional Bay Area theatre artists following the successful world premiere production of Dorothy Bryant’s Dear Master. Their desire was to produce plays “about important ideas, mediated by language and people.” In other words, the ideas, words, and people would be the focus of each production, “assisted by other elements like sets, lights and costumes,” but not dominated by them.

For its first nine seasons, the Company performed at the Berkeley City Club, on a three-quarter thrust stage with 67 seats. In 2001, with tremendous community, government, and foundation support, Aurora completed a $2.5 million capital campaign and moved to a new 150-seat theatre in the emerging Downtown Berkeley Arts District. So successful was the new venue that by 2007 Aurora was able to complete a further capital campaign to fund a seamless expansion into a second, contiguous space that opened in 2009 as Aurora’s Dashow Wing. The Dashow Wing now includes Harry’s UpStage, a 49-seat black box performance space. Aurora’s subscription seasons now regularly include performance both in the 150-seat Alafi Auditorium, and the smaller Harry’s UpStage.

Led by Barbara Oliver in its first twelve years, Aurora entered a new era in 2004 when Tom Ross took on the position of Artistic Director. Tom has been with the Company since its inception, and 2017 will mark the 30th production he has directed for Aurora. Throughout its history, defining characteristics of Aurora Theatre Company productions are their emphasis on subtlety, shadings of feeling, and ensemble responsiveness. Both at the Berkeley City Club and in either of Aurora’s two venues in its current home on Addison Street, audiences enjoy seating close to the action, creating an intimate and engaged theatre experience.

Aurora’s productions have garnered many regional awards, including a recent Best Production award from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (The Monster-Builder) and Best Ensemble from Theatre Bay Area (“MASTER HAROLD…” and the boys).

Production History