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Winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Playwriting, Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise is an unexpected dark comedy about faith, family and the importance of making human connections. In the break room of a Hobby Lobby craft store in Idaho, the seemingly innocuous Will applies for a job. No one knows he has recently fled his rural hometown after a scandalous tragedy involving his fundamentalist church. Will doesn’t particularly want to work there but he is a man on a mission – to bond with his estranged son before the impending Rapture. By enlisting the aid of his new co-workers, a group of eccentric characters also struggling to find their way, can Will succeed in winning the trust of his son before the end of the world?

Runtime: Two hours including one intermission

Member of *Actors' Equity Association, +Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, **United Scenic Artists
Press Coverage
[A Bright New Boise is] an original, edgily comic look at sharply drawn characters from a part of the country we seldom see onstage. Read Full Article »
- Robert Hurwitt
SF Chronicle
A compelling glimpse at the evangelical impulse, [A Bright New Boise] finds some comedy in the tragedy of people longing for the end of the world. Read Full Article »
- Karen D'Souza
Bay Area News Group
[Playwright Samuel] Hunter’s characters aren’t those we usually get to know in a theater. That’s what makes Boise such an interesting play, and director Tom Ross’ production heightens that interest with richly detailed, heartfelt performances from each of his five actors. Read Full Article »
- Chad Jones
Theater Dogs
Hunter’s dark, edgy comedy about faith and forgiveness, made me fidget in my seat at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley – even as I laughed aloud. Read Full Article »
- Woody Weingarten
[A Bright New Boise] is also quite funny. Incessantly provocative jokes and quirky, blunt characters who foil each other keep the audience laughing out loud. Read Full Article »
- Kate Irwin
Daily Cal
Feature Article: Playwright Explores Faith and Connection in an Idaho Big-Box Store Samuel Hunter, the New York-based playwright whose Obie-winning play, A Bright New Boise, comes to the Aurora Theatre this fall, doesn't want to give audiences characters they can pigeonhole right away. Read Full Article
- Emily Wilson
SF Weekly
profoundly empathetic...[characters are] played with such finesse by the Aurora cast, under Tom Ross’ perfectly modulated direction, that you care about them just because they’re human. Read Full Article »
- Jean Schiffman
SF Examiner
[A Bright New Boise is directed] with grace and agility by director Tom Ross, and provides a fine introduction to a playwright's compelling new voice. Read Full Article »
- Richard Dodds
The Bay Area Reporter
[A Bright New] Boise sparkles with wit and intensity, thanks to playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s keen ear for dialogue and performances from some of the Bay Area’s finest actors. Read Full Article »
- Rhonda Shrader
Dogmom's Dish
Gripping and funny... you exit the theater looking carefully in all directions, particularly up. Read Full Article »
- Doug Konecky
SF Theater Blog
theatrically compelling, fierce and often funny...moving
- Leo Stutzin
Huffington Post
perceptive, poppy dialogue...digressive and delightful... [a]stellar cast
- Anna Pulley
East Bay Express
edgy and provocative...
- Emily Mendel
[A Bright New Boise] is good for anyone who craves honesty in their indie comedy.
- Adam Brinklow
EDGE San Francisco
a well-crafted play
- George Heymont
My Cultural Landscape
A Bright New Boise goes beyond the stereotypes in an imaginative Bay Area premiere by Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre. Read Full Article »
- Patricia Schaefer
Stage and Cinema
“A Bright New Boise,” like any good play, transcends its figurative location to address universal truths. Read Full Article »
- Lezak Shallat
The Blue Review
A Bright New Boise on KALW (jump to 33 min)

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GWEN LOEB* - Pauline
KIT GRIMM - Hobby Lobby Video Man #1
JOE KEARNS - Hobby Lobby Video Man #2
TOM ROSS - Director
SAMUEL D. HUNTER - Playwright
MICHAEL CANO* - Stage Manager
MATTHEW STINES - Sound Designer
MICAH J. STIEGLITZ - Video Designer
MAGGIE WHITAKER - Costume Designer
MIA BAXTER - Props Artisan

DANIEL PETZOLD is thrilled to make his Aurora debut. Most recently he's performed in San Francisco Shakespeare's Macbeth. He's also performed in Another Way Home and Any Given Day with Magic Theatre, The Coast of Utopia and The Salt Plays with Shotgun Players, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet with Pacific Rep, Little Brother with Custom Made, Forever Never Comes with Crowded Fire, and performances with the Livermore and Marin Shakespeare Festivals. Love to Granny.
GWEN LOEB* is delighted to be returning to the Aurora where she was last seen in The Arsonists and Trojan Women. Other recent productions include: Truffaldino Says No and World In A Woman’s Hands at Shotgun Players, Blastosphere at Central Works, and Lovers & Executioners at Marin Theatre Company. Gwen is a company member with PlayGround, a frequent performer with the Playwrights Foundation, and an advocate for new plays. She has had the opportunity to originate many great roles, including Zetta Stone in Dog Act by Liz Duffy Adams, Zdenka in Tva Kamila by Erin Bregman, and Annabella in Ecce Homo by Jonathan Luskin.
MEGAN TROUT hails from Los Angeles and is grateful to be making theatre in the Bay Area with other artists of such integrity, talent, and heart. Her most recent credits include: Bonnie & Clyde (Shotgun Players), The Coast of Utopia (Shotgun Players), and Richard the First: Parts 1, 2, 3 (Central Works). Megan is a proud graduate of SF State. Catch her this spring in The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (the third installment of Tom Stoppard's Trilogy) at the Ashby Stage with Shotgun Players.
PATRICK RUSSELL* is pleased to back at Aurora where he appeared in Wilder Times, Body Awareness, Trouble in Mind, and Awake and Sing! Other Bay Area credits include Comedy of Errors (Marin Shakespeare Company), reasons to be pretty (San Francisco Playhouse) Old Wicked Songs (Center REP), The Other Place (Magic Theatre), Othello (Marin Theatre Company), Once in a Lifetime, A Christmas Carol (ACT), and Care of Trees (Shotgun Players). Film credits include the feature film Us, short films The Etymology of Zero and The Secret Life of a Hotel Room, and the web series SanFranLand. His voice-over work can be heard in numerous radio and internet advertisements. Patrick holds an MFA in acting from American Conservatory Theater.
ROBERT PARSONS* is happy to return to the Aurora where he last appeared in Private Jokes, Public Places. Most recently Robert was seen as Bernard Nightingale in Arcadia (A.C.T.), A Killer Story (Marsh), The Strindberg Cycle (Cutting Ball) and Circle Mirror Transformation (Marin Theatre Company). Other Bay Area credits include work at A.C.T. (Rock N Roll, The Little Foxes, The Black Rider, Buried Child), Magic Theatre (Lonesome West, Schrödinger’s Girlfriend, Pleasure and Pain, The American in Me) as well as appearances, at Symmetry Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, Theatreworks, San Jose Stage, Word for Word, Berkeley Rep and The Fifth Floor. Regional credits include Ford’s Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Sydney Festival/Ahmanson Theatre, Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, HERE Arts Center and two seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Film credits include Black August and This Is Hamlet.
Member of *Actors' Equity Association, +Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, **United Scenic Artists


by Josh Costello, Literary Manager

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (New International Version)

According to the Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will have returned to Earth by the year 2050. That's well over 128 million people. Books in the Left Behind series (novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins that imagine what happens on Earth following the Rapture) have sold over 65 million copies and inspired movies -- including an upcoming mainstream release starring Nicolas Cage -- and video games. Clearly the idea of the Rapture holds a prominent place in the American imagination.

The idea that a group of believers will be taken bodily to Heaven, while everyone else is left behind to face chaos and war on Earth, came to prominence in America in the 19th century. John Nelson Darby, an itinerant British preacher, traveled the US and Canada spreading his interpretation of the Bible. He may have originated the idea of believers being taken up in a "secret rapture" before a 7-year period of Tribulations. He used obscure passages from the Bible to chart the events of the coming Tribulations, including wars, plagues, earthquakes, and Armageddon -- the ultimate battle against the Antichrist, a figure of evil with ties to Satan who is expected to rise up and seize control of humanity in the wake of the Rapture. The Scofield Reference Bible, which was first published in 1909, further popularized these views (as well as the idea that the date of God's creation of the Earth could be determined at about 6,000 years ago).

One reason these ideas became so popular is that the established structures of the Church didn't get to say who would be called up to Heaven. Membership in the Church didn't guarantee access to Heaven -- corrupt members of the establishment would be left behind along with all the heathens and nonbelievers. On the other hand, if your faith was pure and your commitment to Christ genuine, you would be called up regardless of your relationship to the Church. In A Bright New Boise, the character of Will believes that he is one of those who will be called up. This idea, that personal faith is paramount, is important to Will and to millions of people in part because it gives individuals the key to their own salvation.

The Evangelical Protestant movement in America grew from this seed. Helping to water the plant are people like David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby (a chain of big-box arts and crafts stores). Green was described by Forbes as "the Biblical billionaire backing the evangelical movement." According to its website, Hobby Lobby is committed to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles." Hobby Lobby was in the news recently for its court battle against the US over providing emergency contraception in its employee health insurance policies, and for its policy against carrying Hanukkah-related items alongside its large selection of Christmas decorations.

Like Will in A Bright New Boise, playwright Samuel D. Hunter is a native of northern Idaho. "When I was younger I knew a lot of fundamentalist Christians," he says in an interview for TheatreJones, "and I went to a fundamentalist Christian high school for a time, so it’s always been something I’ve been interested in. Fundamentalism occupies such a large part of the American consciousness, but very little of our art. So I like to explore what it’s like to live with these beliefs in a constantly modernizing world."

production photos
Photos by David Allen
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
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