A story of obsessions, loss and resilience
On Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m., Pacific’s own Demarcus Brown Theatre hosted a free staged reading of Jeannie Barroga’s “Aurora.” Barroga, an accomplished, Milwaukee-born Filipina American playwright known for her works “Buffalo’ed,” “Walls” and “Banyan,” was in attendance to watch the first reading of her most recent work.
The production was co-sponsored by the University of the Pacific Theatre Department and local theatre company Telling Our Authentic Stories Theatre Company (TOASTCO). The readers were a coalition of Stockton teachers, students and performers brought together by director Val Acoba to bring Barroga’s “Aurora” to life.
“Aurora” is a play about coping with tragedy and loss in modern America, depicting a Colorado family distraught after the murder of their daughter, sister and niece June. As time progresses and June’s trial date approaches amidst coverage of the 2012 Aurora theatre shooting, each family member finds themselves caught up in a different manner of coping with the tragedy.
Jay, her brother, finds himself immersed in video games as her father Hank obsesses over his upcoming annual buck hunt.
Her aunt Grady spends hours dissecting crime dramas as her mother, Mimi, finds herself reluctantly involved with therapy. As they struggle to communicate with one another, June’s spirit watches over all them, hoping that somehow the family can unite once again.
The buildup of strain and unease in the family culminates in a climax full of monologues and tense encounters during the end of June’s trial in the last 30 minutes of the reading’s two-hour run-time.
The performance featured a cast of 13 seated in a crescent in front of a dark backdrop. The use of light and color was purposefully minimal, drawing the audience into the voices rather than the visuals.
Despite the effectiveness of character drama “Aurora” done as minimalistic staged reading, Barroga expressed her interest in developing an additional full-stage production in the future.
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