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by Maria Irene Fornes


Shotgun Players production of Abingdon Square, Maria Irene Fornes' award-winning exploration of a young woman's spiritual and sexual awakening, begins previews June 16, opens June 20 and runs through July 7 at the Julia Morgan Theatre at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Avenue in Berkeley. Opening night and PRESS NIGHT are both Thursday, June 20.

The Obie-winning play, written in 1987, is set in 1908 during a time of tremendous social change in America. As a 14-year-old the newly orphaned Marion marries Juster, a man of 50, who is more of a father than a husband. He has been kind to her and she feels tender towards him. But she falls in love with Frank and her struggle to embrace this love mirrors the turbulent times: the fight for women's suffrage; the union movement; the first birth control clinic in the nation; the modernist movement in art; African American influence on the mainstream culture of music and dance. In her journey from child to woman-she is 24 by play's end-Marion's illusions about romantic love have been shattered. She has discovered her capacity for a deeper, more spiritual idea of love and we are left with the question of who she will share that love with.

Maria Irene Fornes
As a feminist working in the avant-garde tradition of Beckett, Ionesco and Genet, Fornes employs expressionistic yet lyrical language to push against convention and stake out a territory in which women's concerns are central and women as protagonists drive the action of the play. Fornes' women often feel trapped, dominated by men, seeking ways to escape. Yet, as Susan Sontag has written, Fornes is never in complicity with the brutality she depicts, nor does she make her male characters monstrous. Says director Shana Cooper, "All the characters in her play are likeable and accessible in a very human way."

Cooper also has praise for the playwright's language, calling it "image oriented, poetic, lyrical. A perfect complement to the Julia Morgan Theatre." This is indeed a fitting play to be performed at the Julia Morgan Theatre, which was built by the pioneering female architect Julia Morgan in 1908, the year of the play's opening scenes. In their lives and in their art, both playwright and architect defy the established hierarchy in the hope of a more generous world.

Emerging director Shana Cooper, herself 24, understands Marion's dilemma as one in which she feels trapped by the very security and safety she seeks. "She is seduced by the warmth and elegance of Juster's home, but his protection as well as the shelter of his beautiful residence (decorated by his first wife) become smothering. Marion aches to escape. Similarly, the audience will be drawn into the space as soon as they step into the theatre, later to feel the depths of Marion's feeling of entrapment.

This is the Bay Area directorial debut for Cooper, the associate artistic director and casting director for the California Shakespeare Festival. Last fall she directed the Cal Shakes' Student Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She moved to the Bay Area from New York City, where she directed the Off-Broadway remount of Virginia Stage Company's production of Art, and performed with The Aquila Theatre Company at the Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center and continued on with their National Tour in 2000. She has also directed at the Washington Shakespeare Festival, and worked as an assistant director for The Guthrie Theater, The Acting Company, and Virginia Stage Company. She is the recipient of a 2002 TCG Observership Grant.

Cast & Design Team
Myla Balugay plays Marion; David Smith is Frank; Jacob Thompson is Michael; and Chris Harold is Juster. Jim Cave provides the lighting design. Scenic design is by Lisa Clark and costume design by Jocelyn Leiser.




Directed by Shana Cooper
Scenic Design by Lisa Clark
Costume Design by Jocelyn Leiser
Lighting Design by Jim Cave

Marion: Myla Balugay
Frank: David Smith
Michael: Jacob Thompson
Juster: Christopher Herold

June 16, 18 & 19 at 8PM

Thursday, June 20at 8 PM

Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 PM
Sundays at 7 PM
There is one Monday night performance on July 1.
There is no show on Thursday, July 4

Saturday, July 6th at 8 PM

Friday, June 28th at 8 PM

The Julia Morgan Center is fully wheelchair accessible.

Saturday, July 6th at 7pm

The Julia Morgan Theatre,
2640 College Avenue, Berkeley

Click here for a map.

Pay-What-You-Can Preview
Thursdays $10
Opening $25
General $18
Students, Seniors & TBA $12




Review by Brad Rosenstein for SF Bay Guardian
Review by Lisa Drostova for East Bay Express


















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