General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2008-09 > 2008-09-23: MC Opens Theatre Season with Ages of Man

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 23, 2008

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File: NR- MC Opens Theatre Season with Thornton Wilder’s The Ages of Man

Photos by Evan Johnson:  

Ages of Man #1-Jim Williams (baby Moe) and Shelley Aisner (Miss Millie Wilchick) in “Infancy.”
Ages of Man #2-Ignacio Ayala (Billee), Brillani Ray (Dodie), Herron Spence (Caroline) and Randy Moore (Father) in “Childhood.”


    The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present The Ages of Man, a collection of four short plays by Thornton Wilder, for two weeks only October 17 through October 26 in the college’s Center Theatre.  Inspired by Shakespeare’s famous monologue about the ages of life, Wilder set out to write seven short plays chronicling the human journey from infancy through old age.  The first two pieces, “Infancy” and “Childhood” are delightful comedies which have been widely produced.   However, Wilder never published the remaining plays of his cycle.  After his death in 1973, two additional plays intended for this cycle, “Youth” and “The Rivers Under the Earth” (a play believed to  represent middle age) were discovered among the playwright’s unfinished papers.  These darker plays have been rarely produced, making the Mendocino College production of the four plays together an exciting theatrical event.
    The absurdly hilarious play “Infancy” takes place In New York’s Central Park in the 1920s. In this piece,  two babies, Moe and Tommy (played by adult actors Jim Williams and Tony Rakes respectively) try desperately to make sense of their confusing new world while the adult characters, a comic police officer named Avonzino (played by Matt Holzhauer), a lovesick nanny (played by Shelley Aisner) and Moe’s mother (played by Nichole Phillips), behave ridiculously.  In the words of Avonzino, “Like usual: babies acting like growed-ups; growed-ups acting like babies.”

    The second play, “Childhood” is a funny and touching examination of the way children see the world.  In this play, a 1950s suburban father (played by Randy Moore) steps magically into the imaginary dream world of his three children (played by Herron Spence, Brittani Ray and Ignacio Ayala).  While their mother (played by Andrea McCullough) is disturbed by her children’s morbid games, in the end the children and the adults alike seem to benefit from their shared journey.

    In the third play “Youth,” Wilder plucks Captain Gulliver from Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and deposits him onto the shore of a tropical island of the young; by law nobody on this island may live beyond 28 years!  As Gulliver, a 46 year old explorer, (played by Patrick Kinyon) pleads for his life, the island’s social hierarchy starts to unravel and a new age begins to dawn.  This play is at once romantic, amusing and disturbing.  The islanders are played by Nichole Phillips, Alyssa Rempel, Tony Rakes, Kenny Killion, Patrick Webb and Ignacio Ayala.

    The final play, “The Rivers Under the Earth,” takes place in 1955 as a family gathers for an end of summer lakeside picnic on a point of land in Southern Wisconsin.  Mrs. Carter (played by Shelley Aisner), a woman whose dreams of becoming a singer and a doctor faded in favor of becoming a wife and mother, shares a reflective discussion with her teenage son Tom (played by Daniel Katz) who is struggling with his realization of his mother’s mortality.  Meanwhile, Mr. Carter (played by Charles Hessom), now a state senator, connects with his daughter (played by Sarah Timm) while discussing her strange dislike for this piece of land.  Influenced by his friendship with Sigmund Freud, Wilder explores buried memories and experiences that can make people “feel so differently about things.”

    Thornton Wilder is best known for three full length classic American plays.  His play Our Town won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 and has been performed more frequently than any other American play in history.   His comedy The Matchmaker was remade into the hugely successful musical Hello Dolly, and his wildly imaginative  1942  play The Skin of our Teeth  remains dazzlingly modern.   However, in addition to these longer plays, Wilder was a master of the short form, writing dozens of magnificent one-act plays, including “The Long Christmas Dinner” and “The Happy Journey.”  His plays embrace a bold theatrical and poetic spirit, though never at the expense of  authentic and heartfelt connections to the lives of ordinary people.

     The Mendocino College production is being directed by theatre professor Reid Edelman.   The show will feature scenery and lighting by college theatre technician Larry L. Lang, an original sound design by David Wolf, and costumes by the college’s resident designer Kathy Dingman-Katz.  
    The Ages of Man opens on October 17, 2008.  Performances will run for two weekends only, through October 26. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Thursday October 23 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday October 26 at 2 PM.  Tickets ($15 general; $12 students and seniors) are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the Mendocino College Bookstore.  For more detailed information about the production, including age appropriateness, please visit the college’s Theatre Department web site at  For additional information, call (707) 468-3172.


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Created: September 26, 2008 @ 11:09 AM
Last Modified: May 08, 2009 @ 08:26 AM


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