SPLENDOUR Program Notes

Artistic Director Tom Ross

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the final show of our 25th season, the Bay Area premiere of Abi Morgan’s Splendour.  Abi Morgan is a much lauded Emmy-winning author of television series, films, and plays. In this country she is best known as screenwriter of the films The Iron Lady (starring Meryl Steep), Shame (Michael Fassbender), and most recently Suffragette (Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter.)  Splendour originally premiered at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre in 2000 and had its London premiere at the Donmar Warehouse in 2015.

Splendour is a bit unusual for Aurora in that its story is not told in a strictly linear fashion, but rather is an experiment in form.  Playwright Morgan’s script is both a puzzle and a mystery. Four women are waiting for a male dictator to arrive for a photo shoot. We learn a bit about these women and their circumstances, as the women speak to each other and also narrate their thoughts to the audience. A vase breaks and the scene replays from a slightly different angle and replays again, each time adding depth and detail to the characters and their world. Additionally,  the character of the photojournalist does not understand the native language of the country in which she is working, and realizes that her hired translator is brazenly unreliable.

Why does Abi Morgan take this unusual, cubist approach to her narrative? Perhaps it is to immerse the audience in a similar situation to the women onstage, an environment fraught with erratic information and untrustworthy motives in a state of mounting uncertainty. Such conditions remain common around the world today, anywhere power is shifting and people must learn to either accommodate or impede the change.

Our 26th Season subscription campaign is underway. Please check out the back page for a listing of next season’s six plays. We have a representative in the lobby ready to take your order -- or you can sign up on our website or give our Box Office a call.

Thank you for joining us today.   We hope to see you next season.