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Can you untangle Gidion’s Knot? A parent/teacher conference begins as a mystery with a mother seeking answers as to why her son, Gidion, has been suspended from his 5th grade class. The teacher is apprehensive until their discussion develops into a dramatically charged collision of freedom of expression, the failure of our school system, bullying and personal responsibility. Gidion’s Knot is a heart-wrenching, adult-oriented drama by Princess Grace Award winner, Johnna Adams. Published in total in American Theatre magazine and a finalist for this year’s Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, Gidion’s Knot is a visceral and provocative theatre experience unlike any other and sure to promote heated debate.

Runtime: Approximately 75 minutes. There will not be an intermission.

Disclaimers: For Mature Audiences. Please also note that from March 4th - March 9th, Julia McNeal will replace Stacy Ross in the role of Heather.
Member of *Actors' Equity Association, +Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, **United Scenic Artists
Press Coverage
No matter how many parent-teacher conferences you've participated in, it's doubtful you've ever attended one as gripping, edgily funny and fraught with hot-button issues as Johnna Adams' "Gidion's Knot"... Nor half as much nuanced drama as director Jon Tracy and actors Stacy Ross and Jamie J. Jones deliver. Read Full Article »
- Robert Hurwitt
San Francisco Chronicle
Insightfully directed by Jon Tracy in its regional premiere at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre, "Gidion's Knot" is a one-act debate play, a taut 80-minute mystery that keeps us guessing about where to lay blame when children go astray. Read Full Article »
- Karen D'Souza
Bay Area News Group
Gidion’s Knot is a hell of a tangle, and it’s somehow more than a play. It’s an extraordinary experience. Read Full Article »
- Chad Jones
Theater Dogs
Gidion’s Knot is provocative, powerful and guaranteed to force theatergoers to hold their breath for what seems its entire 80 minutes. Read Full Article »
- Woody Weingarten
[Gidion's Knot] asks us to consider questions about creative freedom and school safety, the power of art and the origins of violence... The issues are weighty, but [playwright] Adams never lets them sink the script. Her writing is swift and sure, and the characters are well-drawn. Under [Jon]Tracy’s cogent direction, the actors bring them indelibly to life. Read Full Article »
- Georgia Rowe
The San Francisco Examiner
[Gidion's Knot is a] precise, streamlined drama: two actors, one locale, less than 80 minutes, and a huge, steaming cauldron of emotional confrontation.  Read Full Article »
- Adam Brinklow
EDGE San Francisco
Don’t miss Gidion’s Knot. This powerful drama will make viewers uncomfortable; in fact, it compels the audience to join the emotional rollercoaster ride Read Full Article »
- Emily Mendel
The obvious draw of [Gidion's Knot] is raw emotion...the real enjoyment in this play comes from its honesty. Read Full Article »
- Cara Cerino
The Daily Californian
Behind The Scenes



JAMIE J. JONES* - Corryn
JULIA MCNEAL* - Heather (after March 4)
STACY ROSS* - Heather (until March 2)
JOHNNA ADAMS - Playwright
JON TRACY+ - Director
NINA BALL - Set Designer
MICHAEL PALUMBO - Light Designer
ANTONIA GUNNARSON - Costume Designer
CLIFF CARUTHERS+ - Sound Designer
ANGELA NOSTRAND* - Stage Manager

JAMIE JONES* is thrilled to return to Aurora after appearing in Gidion’s Knot. Recent Bay Area credits include Penelope Easter in The Totalitarians at Z Space. Regional: A.C.T., Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Capital Stage, California Musical Theatre, Center Repertory Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Sacramento Theatre Company and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. New York: The Connelly Theatre, Theatre at St. Clements and the Lincoln Center Director's Lab at HERE space. Television: Law & Order and the mini-series Gone But Not Forgotten. Jamie is a member of the B Street Theatre Acting Company. She holds an M.F.A. from the American Conservatory Theatre.
JULIA MCNEAL* Bay Area credits include: SF Playhouse, Marin Theatre Company, Porchlight, TheatreFirst, Center Reperatory Company, Pacific Alliance Theatre, First Person Singular, PlayGround (company member), among others. An award-winning actress, she appeared in numerous theater and film productions in New York and Los Angeles and made the Bay Area her home ten years ago. She is a Guest Artist in the CTE conservatory program at Tam High and teaches a distinct technique for Playing Multiple Characters at The Marsh theatre and elsewhere. Julia is pleased to be making her Aurora Theatre Company debut by joining this exquisite production.
STACY ROSS* was last seen in Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem at A.C.T., which followed a summer of the west coast premiere of The Thrush and the Woodpecker at Custom Made Theatre and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Califonia Shakespeare Theatre. At Aurora Theatre Company she has had the pleasure of performing in such classics as Hedda Gabler and A Kind of Alaska as well as the contemporary and cutting edge Gideon’s Knot. She’s happy to be back.
Member of *Actors' Equity Association, +Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, **United Scenic Artists

Johnna Adams is no stranger to controversy

by Josh Costello, Literary Manager

Gidion’s Knot premiered at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in West Virginia in 2012, went on to be published in full in American Theatre Magazine, won a prestigious citation from the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Award, and is now being produced to great acclaim in theaters across the country. The Washington Post called Gidion’s Knot a “particularly eloquent study of people caught between the competing demands of reason, morality and family… a narrative that is as elegant as it is chilling.” According to LA Weekly, the play is “a well-crafted and powerful experience – confrontational and thought-provoking.”

Previously, playwright Johnna Adams (winner of the Princess Grace Award) was best known for writing provocative in-your-face plays for small theaters in Orange County and New York City. Her plays explore subjects such as cockfighting, cat murder, and raising the dead. “You have to give yourself permission to write in a way that would horrify the people you love,” Adams says in an interview in American Theatre Magazine. Gidion’s Knot stays true to Adams’ roots while also telling a detailed, subtle, and harrowing story that achieves the kind of interpersonal intensity that makes for truly great theater. In the tradition of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, Gidion’s Knot puts two fascinating characters into conflict with the highest emotional stakes. Given the strength of the writing in this play, it’s no wonder that so many theaters across the country are putting it on their stages.

The characters in Gidion’s Knot are a mother and a teacher, and the setting is a parent-teacher conference. This is already a fraught situation even before Adams starts ratcheting up the tension. It’s worth noting that the topics of conversation in this play reflect several recent events involving schools that have drawn national attention. This is also a play that is steeped in classical history. The title, of course, is a reference to the Gordian Knot, which Alexander the Great sliced through rather than untangle. The play references epic Gaelic poetry, including both its violent imagery and disputes over its authorship – scholars have concluded that the epic poems of Ossian were actually written in English by James Macpherson in the 18th century, despite his claims of having discovered and translated ancient manuscripts. There is a reference to Seneca, the Roman dramatist and advisor to the Emperor Nero. The classroom setting includes images of Greek and Hindu gods keeping watch over the scene.

Ultimately, all of the play’s up-to-the-minute relevance and all of its grounding in history would be meaningless without such a compelling story. The mother and the teacher, two strong and determined women, are caught in the most compelling kind of dramatic conflict. “My idea,” says Adams, “was that both the plays’ characters are trying their best to do the right thing. The play gives you permission to think and talk about things that we don’t think and talk about normally that are very important.”

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