Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Performance Onstage In 'The Children,' nuclear disaster, strange twists, and surprising...

In ‘The Children,’ nuclear disaster, strange twists, and surprising humor

Director Barbara Damashek and star Anne Darragh talk about the 'astonishing' heart in Aurora Theatre's new eco-thriller.

-

Barbara Damashek, Professor Emerita at San Francisco State University and three-time Tony nominee (for the score, lyrics and direction of 1985’s Quilters), looks for a few things when she’s deciding what plays she wants to direct – good writing, timeliness and relevance. 

“It doesn’t have to be written now, but it needs to have some resonance for now,” she said. “I like a play that creates a whole world and there’s some mystery and some danger.”

That’s why she chose to direct Lucy Kirkwood ’s The Children at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre Company,  playing through March 1. 

“It’s a play that has everything: drama, truth, mind, heart, and conscience,” she said. “It has unusual twists. It’s after a nuclear disaster, but it unwinds in a way that is so astonishing to me. These are wonderful roles, and the cast is wonderful. The play is so solid underneath them because it’s truthful.”

Anne Darragh, who plays Rose, a character in the play who comes back after decades away, says she was interested in the play for what it’s about as well as to work with Damashek, and her fellow cast members James Carpenter and Julie Eccles

“It’s nice to have two women my age on stage together. That’s rare to have,” she said. “Also, the topic of our generation’s responsibility to the next is timely and close to my heart.”

Artwork for ‘The Children’ by Elizabeth Lada

In the play, a married couple, retired nuclear scientists, are living in a cottage on the coast of Britain after a nuclear disaster, one that sounds similar to Fukushima. Another retired colleague of theirs comes back after several decades away, and there’s some mystery and a sense of menace to her presence. 

The way to create that is through listening and pauses that create tension, Damashek says. “They’re advertising it as an eco-thriller, she said. “But it’s not a thriller in the conventional set of the word. She sort of created her own form.”

Darraugh says people may think of The Children as about science and ideas, but there’s a lot of humor, and it’s really about how we deal with one another. Damashek agrees with her, and thinks that’s what makes it accessible. 

“It’s absolutely about relationships,” she said. “And it’s subtle and surprising. You think it’s about one thing, and it’s about another. ‘We are stardust‘ like the song says, and it applies to human relationships as well as to atomic relationships. We did some spend some time with scientists, and the play touches on the science, which is fascinating. This play has a huge appetite.”

THE CHILDREN
Through March 1

Aurora Theatre Company, Berkeley
More information here 

More by this author

Celebrating Ruth Asawa’s recycling roots and legacy

At a fundraiser for creative reuse center SCRAP, the beloved artist's children share stories and photos of her life

This weekend, The Breath Project streams 24 nationwide theater works in honor of George Floyd

"It’s another brick in the wall. Or rather, we’re taking the wall down, so it’s a brick out of the wall.”

Author of ‘Abolish Silicon Valley’ Wendy Liu says tech must change

"There’s this extreme power discrepancy that’s being magnified by Silicon Valley in ways that are not necessarily new, but they’ve improved upon the ways it already existed."

With ‘Everglow,’ an artist explores redwood’s phosphorescence

Artist Victoria Wagner, a former pastry chef and wedding cake-maker , says she’s always been a sculptural thinker. But she didn’t work...

‘It Can’t Happen Here’ returns, right before election

A collaborative radio drama from Berkeley Rep revives the Sinclair Lewis classic, which won raves four years ago

Most read

The sleaze reaches high tide at City Hall

How can this level of seemingly endless corruption have happened -- and how high does it go?

The last time an SF cop was charged with killing a Black man

It was 1968. The trial was a sensation. The outcome was a disaster.

The cops, cannabis, tracking landlords — and are we just done with Zuckerberg?

Plus: a new committee on African American reparations. That's The Agenda for Nov. 30 to Dec. 6

Why did so many people vote for Trump?

Radical economic inequality causes social breakdown. We're seeing it right now.

You might also likeRELATED