Aurora Connects

Live Webcast Every Friday at 4pm

Theatre is all about connection. While the measures we're all taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are necessary to save lives, they're also leaving us isolated at a time when we need human connection more than ever. At Aurora, there's not much we can do to directly address the pandemic, but even with our stage dark it remains our role to make connections between artists and audiences.

AURORA CONNECTS is our new weekly live broadcast, an online salon and a virtual happy hour. We'll stream AURORA CONNECTS live on our YouTube channel, allowing you to react, comment, ask questions, and engage in real-time.

We'll share updates about Aurora's upcoming shows and season, interviews and Q&As with actors and designers, roundtable discussions with directors, and more.  Have suggestions for AURORA CONNECTS? Let us know what you want to see.


Join us this and every Friday at 4 P.M. for #AURORACONNECTS. You can listen to AURORA CONNECTS audio here.


 Friday, July 31 at 4 P.M. | Masterpiece Theatre featuring Susanne Simpson
Friday, August 7, at 4 P.M. | No Show | We will be back on Friday, August 14
Friday, August 14, at 4 P.M. | Aurora Connects Season Two | Aurora's 2020/2021 Season


Josh Costello, Artistic Director
Josh Costello is the Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company. Throughout his career, Josh has worked to make theatre more accessible for more people, sharing a passion for the visceral experience of live theatre with new audiences and underserved communities. He was the founding Artistic Director of Impact Theatre, which focused on audiences in their teens and twenties. As the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs at Marin Theatre Company, Josh created and administered several programs that built relationships with new audiences. At Aurora, Josh initiated student matinee and Community Partner programs and led a revision of Aurora’s mission to emphasize the theatre’s role as storyteller to the community. Josh has directed Exit StrategyThe Importance of Being EarnestDetroitWittenberg, and The Heir Apparent for Aurora, as well as the world premiere of Eureka Day, which won every Bay Area new play award. His world-premiere production of Aaron Loeb’s Ideation with the San Francisco Playhouse in both SF and NYC won the Glickman Award for best new play in the Bay Area and the Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Direction, and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Other directing work includes My Children! My Africa! at Marin Theatre Company, House of Lucky at Magic Theatre, and his adaptations of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Aphra Behn’s The Rover. Josh was the Education Director at Marin Shakespeare Company, and a faculty member at Cal Shakes, ACT, SF Shakes, UC Riverside, Cal State Long Beach, South Coast Rep, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Josh holds a BFA in Theatre from Boston University, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dawn Monique Williams, Associate Artistic Director 
Dawn Monique Williams has been Aurora's Associate Artistic Director since August 2019. An Oakland-native, she was Artistic Associate and a resident artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for six seasons. She's worked in theatre across the US including: HERE Arts Center, Profile Theatre (Portland), A.C.T., Chautauqua Theatre Company, African American Shakespeare Company. Williams holds an MA in Dramatic Literature and an MFA in Directing. She directed Bull In A China Shop at Aurora in Fall 2019.




This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Susanne Simpson of Masterpiece Theatre.

Susanne Simpson is a two-time Academy Award® nominee and two-time Emmy® winner for her documentary and dramatic films for television and theaters. Since joining MASTERPIECE in 2007, Simpson has been responsible for such programs as Sherlock, Wolf Hall, and Victoria, and oversaw all aspects of the U.S. broadcast of the hit series Downton Abbey, the most watched drama in PBS history and recipient of 59 Emmy® nominations and 12 wins. She is also the Executive Producer of MASTERPIECE Studio, a podcast with more than 14 million downloads since 2016. Simpson created the MASTERPIECE Trust, a fund to ensure the future of the series. Prior to MASTERPIECE, she was a Senior Producer for the science series NOVA, responsible for the content development, financing, and production of new programming, and was the executive producer of IMAX productions such as the award-winning Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure and Special Effects with George Lucas’s company, Industrial Light & Magic. Simpson is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the Writers Guild. 



This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by local designers Cliff Caruthers (sound), Stephanie Johnson (lighting), Richard Olmstead (scenic), and Maggie Whitaker (costumes). We'll discuss how the designers approach a script, how they prepare for a production, and for the first production meeting, and how they collaborate with other designers, or the actors and director. We'll learn about the different careers in their fields, and about what aspect of their work the designers are most passionate.

Stephanie Anne Johnson’s designs have been produced at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Arizona Repertory Theatre, and The National Black Theater Festival along with other companies. Locally, Johnson has worked with Cultural Odyssey, Afro Solo, Ubuntu Theatre, TheatreFirst, African American Shakespeare Company, Shotgun Players, The Marin Theatre Company and many others. She has designed in India, Holland, Belgium, Paris, Italy, and Canada. Dr. Johnson is a professor at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. She was very happy to work with the Aurora Theatre last season on Exit Strategy. Her work can be seen at

Richard Olmsted has designed over thirty productions for Aurora including Eureka Day, The RoyaleTemple, “MASTER HAROLD”… and the boys, A Delicate BalanceFifth of July, and The Best Man. His scenic and lighting designs have been seen throughout the Bay Area at theatres including Marin Theatre Co., Cal Shakes, Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, Berkeley Rep, Thick Description, Traveling Jewish Theatre, TheatreWorks, and San Jose Rep, among others. He teaches Stage Design and Technology at Cal State East Bay.
Cliff Caruthers has created music and soundscapes for hundreds of productions, including Detroit '67, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety, Detroit, and The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek for Aurora Theatre Company.  Other production highlights include 1984 for Alley Theatre, Frankenstein: Playing With Fire for Guthrie Theater, Julius Caesar for The Acting Company, Troilus and Cressida for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Man in Love for Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Caucasian Chalk Circle for American Conservatory Theater; TRAGEDY: a tragedy for Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Night for California Shakespeare Theater, Constellations for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Bug for San Francisco Playhouse, and A Dreamplay, Pelleas & Melisande, Ubu Roi, and many others for The Cutting Ball Theater. Mr. Caruthers is co-curator and producer of the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, serves as Trustee to the Western Region Board of USA-829, and teaches sound design at Stanford University and San Francisco State University.
Maggie Whitaker's Aurora credits include: The Importance of Being EarnestEureka Day (world premiere), LeniA Bright New Boise, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad DeityFat Pig (SFBATCC nominee), The Shape of Things, and Lobby Hero (Dean Goodman Choice Award). Other credits include Marin Theatre Company: I and You (world premiere), Waiting for Godot; TheatreWorks: Upright Grand (world premiere); Shotgun Players: NoraTruffaldino Says No. Additional credits include: Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball Theater, Ray of Light Theatre. She is the Artistic Director of Virago Theatre, a co-founder of Repulsive Women, an Artistic Associate at Ray of Light Theatre, and a member of USA829.



This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Bay Area actors and directors Joy and Nancy Carlin. We'll ask Nancy what it was like growing up with such a celebrated actor and director for a mother, and we'll ask Joy to tell us when she knew Nancy would follow her into a career in theatre. We'll learn more about the Carlins' family, talk about some shows the mother/daughter duo has worked on together, and reminisce about their favorite Aurora memories.

Joy Carlin is a former Associate Artistic Director of A.C.T. and a member of the acting company for many years. Carlin has also been Resident Director and Interim Artistic Director at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. At Aurora she has directed Widowers' HousesThe How and the Why, Talley’s Folley, Rocket to the MoonNoraBenefactorsDublin CarolThe Old NeighborhoodThe PriceHysteriaBosoms and NeglectJack Goes Boating, Awake and Sing!After the RevolutionBody Awareness, and Dear Master

Nancy Carlin directed The Year of Magical ThinkingA Life in the Theater, and The Second Man for Aurora and has performed in many of their productions including The How and The Why and The Monster-Builder. A former company member of the American Conservatory Theater and an associate artist with California Shakespeare Theater, she has directed and performed extensively in regional theaters, including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, TheatreWorks, Shotgun Players, Cal Shakes, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. A theater arts lecturer for UC Berkeley and SJSU, a dialect coach, writer, and producer, she holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from A.C.T. Ms. Carlin is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and the Dramatists Guild. 




This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by Aurora Board Member and Bay Area actor Lance Gardner (Safe House). We'll get to know Lance and his work with Aurora and other theatre companies, and we'll learn the story of how he became a board member. This episode will also serve as the kickoff to our yearly fundraising soiree, Supernova, newly renamed SUPERNOVA Goes Virtual!

Lance Gardner is the Live Events Producer at KQED public media in San Francisco. He works to bring KQED’s award winning programing to life across the bay area in creative and engaging ways, and strives to create new opportunities to bring art and journalism to life together. Before joining KQED, Lance performed in dozens of plays over his 15 years as a professional actor and musician. He previously worked as an EMT with Santa Clara County emergency medical services and enjoys creating sound-rich narrative stories as an independent audio producer.



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by Bay Area Artistic Directors Pam MacKinnon of A.C.T., Mina Morita of Crowded Fire, and Eric Ting of Cal Shakes. We'll learn about how each of our guests became artistic directors, and we'll take a look at each company's mission to discuss how it informs each AD's work. We'll check in with the ADs about what work their companies are doing to dismantle systemic racism and other systems of oppression, how their companies are handling the pandemic, and how theatres can work together at times like this to support the artistic community as a whole.

Pam MacKinnon (A.C.T. Artistic Director) is celebrating her second season as A.C.T.’s fourth artistic director. She is a Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie award–winning director, having directed upwards of 70 productions around the country, off-Broadway, and on Broadway. Her Broadway credits include Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman (with Uma Thurman), Amelie: A New Musical, David Mamet’s China Doll (with Al Pacino), Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (with Elisabeth Moss), Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (with Glenn Close and John Lithgow), Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle nomination), and Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (Obie Award, Tony and Lucille Lortel nominations). Her most recent credits include Bruce Norris’s Downstate (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, London's National Theatre), Lydia R. Diamond's Toni Stone (Roundabout Theatre Company), and Edward Albee's Seascape (A.C.T.). She is an artistic associate of the Roundabout Theatre Company, an advisory board member of Clubbed Thumb, and an alumna of the Drama League, Women’s Project, and Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors’ Labs. She is also the executive board president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). She grew up in Toronto, Canada, and Buffalo, New York, acted through her teens, but majored in economics and political science at the University of Toronto and briefly pursued a PhD in political science at UC San Diego, before returning to her true passion: theater. (she/her) 

Previously, Mina Morita served as the Artistic Associate at Berkeley Repertory Theatre—and a founding member of its Ground Floor program; as Board President of Shotgun Players; as a 2014 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab participant; as one of the founding members of Bay Area Children’s Theatre; as Community Arts Panelist with the Zellerbach Family Foundation; and Guest Artist at UC Berkeley and Stanford University. She is a recipient of Theatre Bay Area’s 2014 award for Best Director of a Musical: Tier II and TBA’s 2016, 40@40 award for her impact on Bay Area Theater. In 2015, Mina was honored to share her story on TEDx, and in 2016, she was chosen as one of the YBCA100, for “asking questions and making provocations that will shape the future of culture.” She has had the privilege of directing the following plays among many: Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act by Christopher Chen @ Zellerbach Playhouse, Sisters Matsumoto by Philip Kan Gotanda @ CenterRep (Shellie nominated for best direction), By and By by Lauren Gunderson & The Great Divide by Adam Chanzit @ Shotgun Players, and co-directed The Shipment by Young Jean Lee (TBA nominated for best direction), Blackademics by Idris Goodwin, and A Tale of Autumn by Christopher Chen @ Crowded Fire. Special assistant directing credits include Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… and Sarah Ruhl’s Tony-nominated In The Next Room… @ Berkeley Rep. In 2012, Mina worked with Anna Deavere Smith as the artistic coordinator for On Grace.

Eric Ting is an Obie Award-winning director, Artistic Director of California Shakespeare Theater and a proud member of SDC for more than a decade. He previously served as Long Wharf Theatre Associate Artistic Director. Recent credits include the world premiere of Sam Hunter’s Lewiston (Long Wharf Theatre), To Kill a Mockingbird (Cincinnati Playhouse), The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club / Goodman), Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum), Kimber Lee’s Brownsville Song (LWT / Philadelphia Theatre Co), A Great Wilderness (Williamstown), Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam (BAM Next Wave), Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… (world premiere, Soho Rep / Victory Gardens) and Rising Son (world premiere, Singapore Rep). Ting is a founding member of the artists’ collective INTELLIGENT BEASTS. Upcoming: Othello (Cal Shakes), Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower with Toshi Reagon (National Tour) and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon (Berkeley Rep). He is a receipient of a TCG New Generations fellowship, a Jerome & Roslyn Milstein Meyer Career Development Prize, a NEFA National Theatre Project grant, and (with Meiyin Wang) a MAP Fund Award. Additionally, he has served on grant panels including the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Jerome and McKnight Foundations, NEA, TCG, PONY, Creative Work Fund and Alpert Awards.



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by the Mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin. We'll get to know the Mayor, his background, how he became interested in politics, and how he became mayor of Berkeley. What's Mayor Arreguin's overall vision for Berkeley? How do the arts fit into his vision for the community? What are the next steps for fighting COVID-19, and is there a timeline for reopening? We'll discuss these questions, as well as those about the local Black Lives Matter movement and policing in Berkeley, live this Friday at 4 p.m..

Jesse Arreguin has been the Mayor of Berkeley since December 2016. At 32, he was the second-youngest mayor in Berkeley's history. As Berkeley’s Mayor, Arreguin has made addressing homelessness, affordable housing, improving infrastructure and educational outcomes his top priorities.The son and grandson of farm workers, Mayor Arreguin was born in Fresno and raised in San Francisco. He attended the University of California Berkeley, where he served as the ASUC City Affairs Director. Arreguin served on Berkeley’s Housing Advisory Commission before he was elected to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board in 2004, serving as chair until 2008. From 2008 to 2016 Mayor Arreguin served two terms as a Berkeley City Council member representing City Council District 4. Mayor Arreguin is the President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area's regional planning agency and Council of Governments.



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by Bay Area playwrights Lauren Gunderson, Cleavon Smith, and Jonathan Spector (EUREKA DAY). We'll check in with the playwrights and discuss their new project, a brand new Aurora commission with a story set in Berkeley and a theme that addresses this new world we’re building moving forward. We'll also discuss Aurora's new plan for the 2020/20201 season as the Bay Area's stay-at-home orders are slowly lifted.

Lauren Gunderson has been one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015 topping the list twice including 2019/20. She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. She co-authored the Miss Bennet plays with Margot Melcon, and her play The Half-Life of Marie Curie is available on Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You; Exit Pursued By A Bear; The Taming and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists Play Service (The Revolutionists; The Book of Will; Silent Sky; Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams and Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon is available from Two Lions/Amazon.
TheatreFIRST’s playwright in residence Cleavon Smith’s credits include Vs. and The Last Sermon of Sister Imani as well as the one-act, “Just One Day” featured in the compilation Between Us. He’s won a PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award and had work featured in UC Berkeley’s New Play Reading Series, the Ohlone College Playwrights Festival, and two Utopia Theatre Project productions. He is the artist mentor for Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Young Writers of Color Collective and teaches English at Berkeley City College.
Jonathan Spector’s play Eureka Day was commissioned by and premiered at Aurora Theater, and received all of the Bay Area’s new play awards: Glickman Award, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, Theatre Bay Area Award & Rella Lossy Award. It later had a sold out run in New York City with Colt Coeur, where it was New York Times “Critics’ Pick.” Other plays include This Much I Know (PlayPenn, New Harmony, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor), Good. Better. Best. Bested. (Custom Made Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), What Comes Next (Portland Stage’s Little Festival of the Unexpected), Siesta Key (Bay Area Playwrights Festival) and In From The Cold (Just Theater, Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Prize). His work has also been developed and produced with Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Mosaic Theater, InterAct, Mugwumpin, San Francisco Playhouse, Crowded Fire, and Theatre of NOTE. He is a recipient of South Coast Rep’s Elizabeth George Commission, has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation, and is currently a Core Writer at The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. Jonathan is also the Co-Artistic Director of Just Theater.




This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by Bay Area actor and Aldo Billingslea (Dry PowderCollapse). We'll open the episode with a timely discussion about the many protests against racial injustice and police brutality that have been happening since last week and continue today. We'll also catch up with Aldo, and chat about Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids, a play by Vincent Terrell Durham about gentrification, white fragility, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police violence against black men. 

Aldo Billingslea was last seen at Aurora in Dry Powder (2017), This Is How It Goes (2013), and Collapse (2011). His stage credits include American Conservatory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Cutting Ball Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Magic Theatre, Marin Shakespeare Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. He has also worked at Portland Center Stage, Portland Repertory Theatre, Tacoma Actor's Guild, Sacramento Theatre Company, Plano Repertory Theatre, Theatre Three in Dallas, San Antonio's Majestic Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Old Globe Theater, and Shakespearean Festivals of California, Dallas, Marin, Oregon, and Utah.
Vincent Terrell Durham is a playwright who first honed his storytelling skills as a stand-up comic in comedy clubs across the country. He is a 2019 National New Play Network finalist and Eugene O'Neill semifinalist for his powerful new play Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids.



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn are joined by Bay Area and Aurora favorites Stacy Ross (Bull In A China ShopYear of Magical Thinking) and Martha Brigham (The How and The Why). Stacy and Martha shared the stage in Aurora's 2017 production of Leni, directed by Jon Tracy. We'll chat with Stacy and Martha about their memorable Aurora moments, learn about what life is like as an actor in the Bay Area, and what it's like to be an actor during a stay-at-home order.

Stacy Ross last appeared at Aurora in Bull in a China Shop (2019). Other Aurora performances include The Year of Magical ThinkingLeniA Kind of Alaska, Hedda GablerMan of Destiny, and Gidion’s Knot. Locally she has also been seen at Cal Shakes, Cutting Ball, SF Playhouse, Custom Made, A.C.T, Berkeley Rep, Playground, and San Jose Rep.

Martha Brigham has performed at La Jolla Playhouse, San Francisco Playhouse, Aurora Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, Jewel Theatre Company, Central Works, and Marin Theatre Company. Her more recent theatre credits include Gloria at American Conservatory Theatre, Cry It Out with Just Theatre (soon to be remounted at Aurora), and Patricia Cotter's World Premiere of The Daughters at San Fransisco PlayhouseHer film credits include Children of SorrowThe Man in the Red Suit, and The Empire Builders  Brigham graduated from the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute as well as studying with Steppenwolf West under alumni Tom Irwin and LA’s comedy improv group, The Groundlings. (She/Her/Hers) @marthb89



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn dive deep into the mind of a theatre critic with guest Lily Janiak, of the San Francisco Chronicle. What is the role of a critic? Was she given a mandate when she took over the job in 2016? Was she told to appeal to younger audiences? Who writes headlines for her reviews? Does she choose the Little Man, and if so, how does she choose him? What does she think about rating systems in general? Get answers to these questions and more, Friday at 4 p.m. on Aurora Connects.

Lily Janiak joined the San Francisco Chronicle as theater critic in May 2016. Previously, her writing appeared in Theatre Bay Area, American Theatre, SF Weekly, the Village Voice and HowlRound. She holds a BA in theater studies from Yale and an MA in drama from San Francisco State.



This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Brit Frazier and Margo Hall, playwright and director for LAVEAU, an Aurora Originate + Generate commission. In addition to learning more about Margo and Brit as artists, we'll discuss the genesis of the project, learn more about Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen of New Orleans, and hear about Brit's recent trip to New Orleans earlier this year.

Brit Frazier's stage credits include Campo Santo, Cutting Ball Theatre, Shotgun Players, Ubuntu Theater Project, Marin Theater Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, ACT's Strand Theatre, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. As a teaching artist, she’s directed for Disney Theatrical NY and Bay Area Children's Theater as a part of their Disney Musicals in Schools Program, and taught with California Shakespeare Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and The Marsh SF. She has written three plays, ObeahDysphoria, and Pressure High. Berkeley’s TheatreFirst commissioned Frazier to write Laveau: A Conjuring of Marie Laveau, a short, solo ritual performance tribute to Marie Laveau that was directed by Margo Hall and performed by actor Dezi Solèy in September 2018 as part of an evening of four short solo performances. A former directing apprentice with Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Playground Series, Frazier recently directed Take The Ticket at TheatreFirst. 

Margo Hall (Exit Strategy, Trouble In Mind; Global Age Project director) has performed and directed in theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She was last seen onstage in Skeleton Crew, a co-production with Marin Theatre Company and Theatreworks. She recently directed BARBECUE (which she also starred in) for San Francisco Playhouse and Brownsville, b-side for tray for Shotgun Players. Her writing credits include The People’s Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the 2005 Will Glickman Playwright Award for best new play in the Bay Area, and Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, a semi-autobiographical piece at Z Space in San Francisco, featuring the Marcus Shelby 15-piece orchestra. She is a founding member of the award-winning, San Francisco-based multi-cultural ensemble Campo Santo, and has directed, performed and collaborated on new plays with artists such as Naomi Iizuka, Jessica Hagedorn, Philip Kan Gotanda, and Octavio Solis.



This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn will be joined by Bay Area artists, performers, educators, and activists Claudia Alick and Leigh Rondon-Davis. You might remember Claudia and Leigh from Aurora's March 2nd town hall, Welcome To Our Space? A Town Hall on Audience Interactions, where panelists and audience members discussed how theaters and theatergoers can create a more welcoming and inclusive theatre-going culture in the Bay Area. We'll recap the event and learn more about Claudia's and Leigh's inspiring work at the intersection of art and activism.

Claudia Alick (she/her/they) is a performer, producer, and inclusion expert. Named by American Theater Magazine as one of 25 theater artists who will shape American Theater in the next 25 years, Alick has served as the founding Artistic Director of Smokin' Word Productions, is a NY Neofuturist alum, published playwright, recipient of NYC Fresh Fruit directing award, TedXFargo speaker, the Lilla Jewel Award for Women Artists, featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and former Community Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is currently the executive producer of the transmedia social justice company CALLING UP.

Leigh Rondon-Davis (they/them) is a performer, visual artist, and dramaturg from both New York City and the Bay Area. They attended Wellesley College and was a member of Oakland's Laney College Fusion Theatre Project. Rondon-Davis’ stage credits include Crowded Fire Theater, Cutting Ball Theater, FaultLine Theater, Variance Festival, The Curran, and Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, and Ubuntu Theater Project. They currently work for and is a Company Member at Ubuntu Theater Project in Oakland and Shotgun Players in Berkeley.





This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn will be joined by African American Studies & English teacher Alan Miller, drama teacher Jordan Winer, and Berkeley High student and actor Dwayne Clay, to chat about Aurora's Community Partners Program. Berkeley High was the Aurora's first community partner, paired with our Fall 2019 production of Exit Strategy. We'll learn more about the Community Partners Program and discuss how the Bay Area's stay-at-home order is affecting Berkeley schools, students, and faculty. 

Alan Miller
 Jordan Winer  Dwayne Clay





This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn chat with Barbara Damashek, Darryl V. Jones, and Jennifer King, the directors of some of Aurora's most memorable productions. Take a deep dive into the process of putting together a show at Aurora. Get to know our directors more intimately as they take you through the entire process, from preparation and design, to rehearsals and then tech, previews, and opening. 

Barbara Damashek is a Tony-nominated director, composer-lyricist, and co-author of the musical Quilters. Aurora credits include 2020's The Children, Creditors, A Number, Splendour, The Lyons, American Buffalo,Fat Pig, and Private Jokes, Public Places. Other credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, A.C.T., The Denver Center, South Coast Repertory, and Actors Theater of Louisville, and internationally in the U.K. and Ukraine.
Darryl V. Jones was last seen at Aurora in 2018's Detroit '67 and 2017's The Royale. Jones directed Welcome Home for Aurora's Global Age Project. Other directing credits include Woolly Mammoth Theatre, The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Sacramento Theatre Company, Theatre Rhinoceros, leading theatres in Washington, DC, off-Broadway, and many regional theatres. He is a professor of theatre arts Cal State East Bay.
Director Jennifer King is a professor of theatre arts and artistic director at Napa Valley College, where she founded Shakespeare Napa Valley. She made her Aurora debut in 2018's Dry Powder. Other directing credits include the Prague Shakespeare Company, Capital Stage, Berkeley Playhouse, SF Playground,  Shakespeare Napa Valley, Sonoma County Repertory Theater, Cinnabar Theatre, and the Sebastopol Shakespeare Festival.



This week on AURORA CONNECTS, Josh and Dawn chat with Liz Lada, the artist behind our iconic poster art. Formerly Aurora's graphic designer, Liz is an award-winning artist and was featured in The New York Times’ “Behind the Poster,” for the artwork of Aurora’s 2016 production of LITTLE ERIK. Together with Josh and Dawn, we'll highlight some of the standout posters from past seasons, delve into Liz's background, and reveal the beautiful poster art for the upcoming 2020/2021 season.
See some examples of the work Liz has done for Aurora below.

The Children

The Year of Magical Thinking


Everything Is Illuminated 

Little Erik

The Lyons

Talley's Folly
Breakfast with Mugabe

The Arsonits





Carlos Aguirre

Laura Jane Bailey | Instagram

Elizabeth Carter Blogspot

Kevin Kemp 
thestreamingtheatre.comFacebook | Audio book

Katie Rubin | Youtube channel
Twitter @katierubin | Facebook

Dan Wolf

James Ard | Podcast

Phil Wong




Kait Kerrigan
Kait Kerrigan is a playwright, lyricist, and bookwriter. Off-Broadway: The Mad OnesHenry and the Mudge, and Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Friends. Her work has been developed and performed internationally. Her plays include Disaster Relief, Imaginary LoveTransit, and We Have to Hold Hands. Other musicals include RepublicUnbound, and The Bad Years, an immersive house party. Awards, fellowships, and residencies include the Kleban, Larson, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, I-73 Writer’s Group, Lark Playwright’s Week and Winter Retreat, and MacDowell. Kerrigan is an alumna of Barnard College, and a member of ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild, and founding member of For more information, visit

M. Graham Smith
M. Graham Smith is a San Francisco-based Director, Educator and Producer. He has been an O’Neill/NNPN National Directing Fellow, Oregon Shakespeare Festival FAIR Fellow and is a proud Resident Artist at SF’s Crowded Fire. He grew up outside of New York City and has been based in San Francisco for the last fourteen years. He’s directed in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, Washington DC, and venues in San Francisco. He directed the West Coast Premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera in SF and Truffaldino Says No at Shotgun Players, winning Best Director for the Bay Area Critics Circle.  Recent credits include the World Premiere of Obie winner Christopher Chen’s Home Invasion in SF, Deal with the Dragon at ACT’s Costume Shop & Edinburgh Fringe, Mia Chung’s You for Me for You at Crowded Fire, and James Ijames’ WHITE at Shotgun. He spent five years as Producer of Aurora Theatre’s new play development program and festival The Global Age Project. He teaches in A.C.T.'s actor-training programs, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre and at Barcelona’s premiere Meisner Technique program in Spain. You can visit him online at


Molly Smith Metzler
Molly Smith Metzler (playwright) is the author of Cry it OutElemeno PeaThe May QueenCarveClose Up Space and Training Wisteria. Her regional credits include: Northlight Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, South Coast Repertory, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Chautauqua Theater Company, City Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Geva Theatre Center, Mixed Blood Theatre Company and more. In New York City: Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC). Metzler’s awards include the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education's David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting and a finalist nod for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is a proud alumna of the Ars Nova Play Group, the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages and the Cherry Lane Mentor Project. In television, Metzler has written for Casual (Hulu), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Codes of Conduct (HBO), and is currently a writer/producer on Shameless (Showtime). She is also a screenwriter, currently adapting Ali Benjamin’s award-winning novel The Thing About Jellyfish into a film for OddLot Entertainment with Made Up Stories and Pacific Standard (Reese Witherspoon’s company). Metzler was educated at the State University of New York at Geneseo, Boston University, New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts and the Juilliard School. She lives in Los Angeles and Kingston, N.Y.


Molly Aaronson-Gelb
Molly Aaronson-Gelb (Director) is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of Just Theater, for whom she directed We Are Proud to Present... (TBA Award for Outstanding Direction), A Maze (TBA Finalist for Outstanding Direction), Down A Little Dirt RoadTake Me To The Bridge, Far AwayThe World Is Round, and Three Plays About Your Mom. Other directing credits include Spring Awakening (CenterREP), Living Together in the Norman Conquests Trilogy (Shotgun Players), the premiere of Blastosphere by Aaron Loeb and Geetha Reddy (Central Works), Aaron Loeb's First Person Shooter (Capital Stage) and Oliver! (Berkeley Playhouse). She has also directed for Crowded Fire, the SF Fringe Festival, and the Hangar Theater in Ithaca, NY. She has worked as an assistant director at Berkeley Rep, ACT, Cal Shakes, and The Women's Project, is a member of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab, and holds an MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. She is the Drama teacher at the College Preparatory School in Oakland and the Mother of a theater-loving four-year-old.




Danny Scheie
Actor and director Danny Scheie was last seen at Aurora in 2015's The Monster-Builder. Stage credits include A.C.T., Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, Arena Stage, Old Globe, Actors Theater of Louisville, Z Space, Magic Theatre, and Yale Rep. He recently played Nurse Bruce in this season's Almost Family on Fox. Scheie holds a professorship of Theater Arts at UC Santa Cruz and a PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley.

Dean Linnard
Dean Linnard is an actor and teaching artist in the Bay Area. Recent credits include SF Playhouse, Cal Shakes, Marin Shakespeare Company, Left Edge Theatre, Vermont Shakespeare
Festival, Luna Stage, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and the national tour of The Lightning Thief. He holds a BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
Susan Lynskey
Susan Lynskey was seen most recently off-Broadway in The Jewish Wife at New Light Theater Project and as young Margaret Thatcher in 59E59 Theaters' Handbagged. Bay Area credits include Berkeley Rep and A.C.T. Other credits include Arena Stage, Kansas City Rep, Round House, Metro Stage, Olney Theatre Center, The Kennedy Center, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Lynskey has been recognized with Helen Hayes nominations for Outstanding Lead and Supporting Actress and the DC Audience Choice Award. She is an OSF Acting Company member and is currently filming Thespian for Amazon. Lynskey fosters new plays with leading incubators including The Kennedy Center, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, and National New Play Network.

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