A Noise Within

A Noise Within (ANW), the acclaimed classical repertory theatre company led by Founders/Artistic Directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, launches its milestone 2011-12 Season and 20th Anniversary in its permanent new home, a 33,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art venue in Pasadena, on Saturday, October 29, 2011. Programming for the highly anticipated inaugural year in this spectacular theatre embodies ANW's trademark mix of timeless classics. Featured are six captivating masterworks: the company's new treatment of Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL, Eugene O'Neill's DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS, Shakespeare's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Tony Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's THE ILLUSION, Molière's THE BUNGLER, and a reprise of ANW's critically acclaimed, popular staging of Michael Frayn's NOISES OFF: The 281-seat theatre's thrust stage, expansive backstage area and cutting-edge technology, accommodating productions both epic and intimate, provide tremendous opportunities for artistic exploration. At the same time, it preserves A Noise Within's unique theatrical communion between actors and audiences, with no seat further from the stage than seven rows. The venue is already being hailed as an arts anchor for East Pasadena.

A Noise Within officially opens with a glittering black-tie Opening Night Gala, presented by Wells Fargo, heralding the next chapter in the company's storied history. The evening-long festivities unfold with a dazzling champagne reception toasting the new home followed by the season's first production, Shakespeare's beloved comedy TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL. A festive post-performance dinner party caps the celebration, which benefits A Noise Within and promises to be one of the hottest tickets in town.

To introduce the community at large to ANW's unique artistry and the new facility, the company also opens its doors to the general public in the days leading up to the Gala with a series of free events, including tours, readings and special education programs. These programs reflect ANW's commitment to bringing the classics to the broadest possible audience and to expanding the deep community roots sown during its 19 years in Glendale. (Details to be announced.)

A Noise Within's long history of fiscal stability is highlighted by its 19 seasons "in the black" as well as its ability in a challenging economic climate to raise close to $13.5 million for a successful capital campaign.

"This momentous and thrilling occasion for A Noise Within," says Rodriguez-Elliott, "is the fulfillment of a long-time dream to provide a truly permanent home for our committed resident artists, devoted and generous patrons, valued staff and the broad contingent of education partners served by our resources. Artistically, the venue provides depth and scale we can explore in ways we couldn't before affording us a remarkable canvas for staging the classics along with the ability to retain and preserve the hallmark actor-audience connection we developed over the last two decades in our Glendale space."

Adds Elliott, "We've crafted a slate of masterpieces that showcases the range of the theatre's vast physical capabilities. For example, with Antony and Cleopatra, we have a grand-scale production rich with spectacle and pageantry. The Illusion takes us into a world of theatrical fancy and fantasy, in contrast with the visceral immediacy of Desire Under the Elms.

The season runs from October 2011 to May 2012. Among the varied subscription options offered is a new "Family Package" in which youngsters can experience A Noise Within with their parents, either on stage or in an on-site classroom. The pass is available to young people ages 6 to 17 with the purchase of an adult subscription series and can be redeemed for a ticket to the show or an educational workshop at the theatre offered during selected Sunday matinee performances. There are also 4-, 5-, and 6-play packages, special rates for patrons 18 to 30 years of age, group rates, school group rates, and more. Free programs for audience members include pre- or post-performance conversations with scholars and/or ANW artists on selected dates throughout the season.

With substantially more space than its Glendale venue, the new theatre meets demand for tickets by allowing annual audience capacity to increase from 20,000 to 55,000 people, and the company's highly regarded education program will be able to double to 20,000 the number of students served each year. Together, this allows A Noise Within to expand its role as a leader in the presentation and preservation of classical theatre.

The venue is located in the former Stuart Pharmaceutical building, a historic, mid-century modern masterpiece designed by celebrated architect Edward Durell Stone, known for landmark buildings around the country including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Radio City Music Hall in New York. Constructed in the mid-1950s, the Stuart Pharmaceutical building was listed on the National Register in 1998 and features a striking landscape garden designed by Thomas Church. The completely new three-story theatre - which retains the building's original façade -- features support facilities, offices, rehearsal space, a classroom, considerable storage for costumes, props and scenery and large restrooms. There is plentiful, convenient, free parking in the adjacent Gold Line's Sierra Madre Villa Metro parking structure.

A Noise Within is the only year-round classical repertory company in Southern California and one of only a handful in the entire country dedicated solely to producing classical dramatic literature in the repertory tradition of rotating productions with a resident company of professional artists. It has been lauded by critics as a "premiere classical theatre company," and an "outstanding ensemble" whose "vibrantly theatrical" "brilliant productions" are "freshly imagined," "exceptional," "invigorating," "riveting," "brilliantly atmospheric," "inspired," and "masterfully crafted." Founded 20 years ago with $3,000 from the Elliotts' savings account, ANW quickly established itself as one of the region's key theatre companies, attracting fiercely loyal audiences and consistently high praise from the media for its productions and as a key force in arts education. The company has presented more than 135 plays from the classics of world literature, each season producing works from authors ranging from Shakespeare and Molière to Ibsen, O'Neill and Shaw to Miller and Williams.

An integral element of A Noise Within's mission is to make the classics accessible to all audiences, with particular attention paid to leveraging the company's resources for the benefit of students and teachers. Committed since its inception to enhancing middle and high school students' classroom discovery of classic texts, ANW develops educational programming to complement classroom studies and enable teachers to promote literacy and cultural awareness. The company's educational programming serves a diverse population of students from public, private and parochial schools, from the inner city to the suburbs, from middle school through college. Approximately 30% of ANW's budget is dedicated to educational programs.


FALL 2011

Twelfth Night, Or What You Will
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott
Saturday, October 29 to Friday, December 16, 2011
(previews begin Saturday, October 22)

A Noise Within's inaugural season in its spacious, state-of-the-art new Pasadena home launches with a sizzling original treatment of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL, opening Saturday, October 29 and closing Friday, December 16, 2011 (previews begin Saturday, October 22). Set by director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott in pre-revolutionary Cuba, this uproarious, gender-bending bacchanal of merriment, mischief and true love, considered by many to be the Bard's purest comedy, plays out against a backdrop of Caribbean carnival. In the hot Latin breeze, Sir Toby Belch and his incorrigible band of pranksters misbehave, while plucky Viola sparks confused passions and romance ensues. A post-show Opening Night Gala, celebrating the theatre's debut, continues the show's festive theme with Cuban food and music.

Desire Under the Elms
by Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Dámaso Rodriguez
Saturday, November 19 to Sunday, December 18, 2011
(previews begin Saturday, November 12)

DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS by EUGENE O'NEILL opens Saturday, November 19 and closes Sunday, December 18, 2011 (previews begin Saturday, November 12). Although less frequently staged than such later O'Neill classics as Long Day's Journey Into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten, this earlier work is no less masterful. Young Eben Cabot greedily eyes the family farm, while his father's voluptuous new bride has her avaricious eye on the farm... and Eben. As the pair vies for the coveted plot of land, sexual tension and hatred intensify to explosive effect. Directed by Dámaso Rodriguez, who previously helmed ANW's productions of Tennessee Williams' The Eccentricities of a Nightingale and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, this darkly humorous salute to the combustible essence of great Greek drama was first presented in 1924 by the Provincetown Players, the launch pad for O'Neill's career as America's premiere tragedian.

Noises Off
by Michael Frayn
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott
Friday, January 6 to Sunday, January 15, 2012
(no previews)

A Noise Within reprises its hit 2009-10 production of MICHAEL FRAYN's hilarious NOISES OFF, which pays tribute to the art of theatre-making itself as chaos reigns onstage and off. The play opens Friday, January 6 and closes Sunday, January 15, 2012 (no previews) with the original cast directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott. Three separate runs at ANW's former Glendale venue won rave reviews, among them "a superb cast hit the banana peel running and never let up" (Los Angeles Times); "Michael Frayn's delightfully complicated British farce could hardly have a better rendition than this" (Backstage); "excruciatingly funny...no one is safe from drowning in the ensuing tides of hilarity that sweep over the audience" (Edge Magazine); "The entire production is a riot, some of the most fun you can expect at a theatrical production" (Stage Happenings); and "nothing short of brilliant" (Urban Man). Frayn's joyfully out-of-control British farce features an under-rehearsed and over-worked bumbling troupe of veteran thespians, with a penchant for drama more personal than professional, readying themselves for the world premiere of a new play whose auspicious title is Nothing On. In the process they bring the house down, quite literally.


Antony and Cleopatra
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott
Saturday, March 3 to Sunday, May 13, 2012
(previews begin Saturday, February 25)

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, opening Saturday, March 3 and closing Sunday, May 13, 2012 (previews begin Saturday, February 25), remains a towering tragedy of larger-than-life figures caught up in an empire-shattering dance of lust, love, politics and war. Long on the ANW wish list, it was an early choice for the inaugural Pasadena season, according to Geoff Elliott, who co-directs with Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. "Until now, we just didn't have the physical capability to give this play, with its many battle scenes and great surround, the grandness it deserves," he notes. "The depth of our new space has opened up tremendous artistic possibilities for us." Both history play and sweeping love story, Antony and Cleopatra is undeniably one of the most challenging works in the Shakespeare canon to bring to the stage. Indeed, the last Broadway revival of the classic was in 1952, with a cast headed by real-life star-crossed lovers Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.

The Illusion
by Pierre Corneille
Adapted by Tony Kushner
Director to be announced
Saturday, March 17 to Saturday, May 19, 2012
(previews begin Saturday, March 10)

What is reality and what is not? In THE ILLUSION by PIERRE CORNEILLE, adapted by TONY KUSHNER, opening Saturday, March 17 and closing Saturday, May 19, 2012 (previews begin Saturday, March 10), a father seeks to reunite with his estranged son. When he enlists the services of a powerful sorcerer to conjure up scenes from the young man's life, however, the provocative images that the sorcerer shows the anxious father may or may not be quite what they seem. Tony Kushner (Angels in America) triumphantly revitalizes this 17th century theatrical fairy tale, first told by French classical dramatist Pierre Corneille in 1639, and the intoxicating result is poetic and profound, timely and transcendent, comic and moving, and a luminous paean to live theatre, the celebratory theme of this ANW season.

The Bungler
by Molière
Translated by Richard Wilbur
Directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott
Saturday, April 7 to Sunday, May 27, 2012
(previews begin Saturday, March 31)

A Noise Within wraps its inaugural season in its permanent new Pasadena home with MOLIÈRE's comedy THE BUNGLER, translated by RICHARD WILBUR, opening Saturday, April 7 and closing Sunday, May 27, 2012 (previews begin Saturday, March 31). Molière's careening cavalcade of wily servants, dim-witted young lovers and avaricious old men, co-directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott, has a very limited history in the U.S. This version of the comedy by noted Molière translator Richard Wilbur premiered at The Long Wharf in 2000. Also known as "The Blunderer," it was Molière's first romp written in verse and was among the hugely popular touring successes that brought the struggling playwright out of exile in the French provinces and into royal favor in the court of Louis XIV. "Unlike Tartuffe or The Imaginary Invalid, Molière's swipe at the medical society," says Elliott, "this play doesn't take on any big issues. It's just sheer joy." Adjust your seats, strap yourselves in and get ready to laugh as a foolish young man in love enlists the aid of his clever servant to further his cause, then botches the servant's every brilliant plot, topping blunder after blunder to head-spinning, hilarious effect.

A NOISE WITHIN is located on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue at 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. Free self parking is located in the Sierra Madre Villa Metro parking structure, with entrances on northbound Sierra Madre Villa Avenue or North Halsted Street. To purchase tickets or for a full season brochure, call (626) 356-3100 or visit www.ANoiseWithin.org.