Liliane & Ed Schneider
Paul Templeton & Darrell Louie,
Deborah Dashow Ruth,
Muffy & Harry Thorne
STARTS January 27
- Program Notes
When Henry, a cerebral playwright, is asked by his mistress to ghost-write a script, his life begins to imitate his art too closely. More comfortable with words than feelings, Henry must decide which of his emotions are the “real thing.” Stoppard tackles questions of love and marriage with dazzling comedy and more than one play-within-a-play, sending his characters and the audience reeling between authenticity and artifice, intellect and passion, and love and infidelity.
"So packed with wit, ideas and feelings ... Stoppard's most moving play and the most bracing play anyone has written about love and marriage in years." - The New York Times
Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes, including one ten-minute intermission
ELIJAH ALEXANDER* - Henry
TOM STOPPARD - Playwright
|NINA BALL** - Sets
DANIEL BANATAO - Props
CLIFF CARUTHERS** - Sound
PHILIPPA KELLY - Dramaturg
KURT LANDISMAN** - Lights
MAGGIE MORGAN** - Costumes
KATHLEEN J. PARSONS* - Stage Manager
LISA ANNE PORTER - Dialect Coach
Carrie is thrilled to return to Aurora where she has previously appeared in This Is How It Goes, A Delicate Balance, Collapse, Small Tragedy and Betrayal. Last season she played Hannah in the Off-Broadway production of Ideation, directed by Josh Costello (New York Times Critic’s Pick). Regional credits include Stage Kiss and Stupid Fucking Bird with San Francisco Playhouse; King Charles III and After the War at A.C.T.; Double Indemnity at ACT Seattle; Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde at Arizona Theatre Company; The Other Place at Magic Theatre; The Big Meal at San Jose Rep; and A Streetcar Named Desire and Tiny Alice at Marin Theatre Company. She played Lurleane in Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, and some fishy friends in Finding Dory. She holds a master's degree in educational theater from New York University and is cofounder of StageWrite, Building Literacy through Theatre.
Making it Real
by Philippa Kelly, Production Dramaturg, The Real Thing and Resident Dramaturg, California Shakespeare TheatreWhen Tom Stoppard premiered The Real Thing, his main characters – Annie, Charlotte, Max, Henry – could have been sitting in the stalls amongst the audience. They were prototypes of 1980s professionals, including Stoppard himself, who, at the age of 45, had, like his character, Henry, divorced and remarried. The sexual revolution had accelerated during the late '60s and early '70s, hastened by the Abortion Act and access for single women to the contraceptive pill, which had taken 13 years to be prescribed by doctors to any women other than those who were married. The pill brought men and women into all kinds of new relationships, including in bed. Divorce, made easier by the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, no longer carried the stigma it once had. Married women also had a brighter outlook: the rejection of post-war attempts to stuff recently-professionalized women back into the home was bolstered by the Equal Pay Act of 1970, and British mothers (like mine, a pharmacist and mother of five), were more easily accepted into the workplace.
Many of you sitting in our audience today might recall yourselves at the approximate age of Stoppard and his characters in 1982. What were you doing? Were you working outside the home? Giving birth? Or both? Who were you living with? Who were you lusting after? Do you remember the power of Margaret Thatcher, introduced across the pond in 1979 as England's first female prime minister: a woman who preached the need to tidy up England's excesses, breaking the backs of the unions during the 1980s while also, via the Falkland crisis, managing to whip up nationalist fervor all over the country, traversing up and down England's social classes?
And if you're the children or grandchildren of Stoppard's prototypes, the digital watch mentioned in the play's first act will be, for you, an antique - likely a Casio watch found in grandpa's drawer (along with all the other watches, since they're all becoming antiques). Free love has lost its newness, if not its attraction. Charlotte's quick trip to Switzerland can be easily accomplished not just from England, but from anywhere in the world. Electronic devices have made infidelity increasingly trackable. But lovers still long for each other as if love and complication never happened before. And although there are history books that can reliably tell us what "the real thing" is or was, that thing called love – "the real thing" – has to be lived, felt, lived all over again... Still real, after all these years.
Stoppard in Love
by Josh Costello, Literary Manager and Artistic Associate
"Everything you write comes out of yourself; it’s going to be in some ways an expression of yourself, however many sieves it may have gone through"
--Stoppard, interview with Brian Firth, reprinted in “The Real Thing”: Essays on Tom Stoppard in Celebration of his 75th Birthday (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).
The similarities between Tom Stoppard and the fictional playwright at the center of The Real Thing are striking. Both are known for their skill with language. Both have an affair with an actress -- Stoppard left his second wife for the actress who played the actress in the first production of The Real Thing. Both love pop music. Both are accused of being too cerebral, more comfortable with the mind than with the heart. But the heart is at the center of The Real Thing, a play both written by and featuring a playwright striving to get at the real feelings underneath his virtuosic use of language.
Tom Stoppard first rose to international prominence with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966), a play about minor characters in Hamlet struggling with their fate as pawns in someone else's game. Then came Jumpers (1972), a comic satire of academic philosophy, and Travesties (1974), an intellectual prism of a play that imagines Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara meeting in Zurich in 1917. These plays brought Stoppard spectacular success, along with a reputation for being a writer more in love with ideas and wordplay than with human emotions. "The cavalier liberties Mr. Stoppard takes with language and shape," grumbled the New York Times in 1975, "cost us certain of the pleasures we count on in the presence of drama."
The Real Thing (1982) takes some liberties of its own -- using theatrical artifice to expose emotional artifice -- and offers plenty of intellectual delights, but it also delivers the more traditional pleasures of drama that the New York Times felt were missing from Travesties: it is a play infused with feeling. Feelings in The Real Thing are complicated and messy, and often fail to match up to what the characters expect or desire to feel. Without sacrificing his love of language and ideas, Stoppard wrote a play that investigates the heart with the same passion he had previously focused on the mind. “The Real Thing is not only Mr. Stoppard’s most moving play," said the Times, "but also the most bracing play that anyone has written about love and marriage in years.”
Stoppard's string of successful plays continued with Arcadia (1993), The Invention of Love (1997), The Coast of Utopia (2002), Rock 'n' Roll (2006), and many others, up through last year's The Hard Problem. He has tackled physics, mathematics, quantum theory, the history of European revolution, and much more. Through it all, The Real Thing stands out as perhaps the most personal of his plays, the clearest window into the heart of a playwright most celebrated for his mind.