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Company Continues Special Agreement with Actor's Equity in Transition to Mid-Size

Burbank, CA, August 23, 2001 - The Colony Theatre Company is currently in rehearsal for The Clearing by Helen Edmundson, the second production of its 2001-2002 season

The Clearing is a powerful drama of love, passion, treachery, and tragedy set in 17th Century Ireland.  Madeleine and Robert Preston are proud new parents. But it is a time of religious and political turmoil, and she is Irish, he is English. As Cromwell and Parliament instigate a policy of ethnic cleansing known as "to Hell or Connaught," the Prestons find their world turned upside down.

The Clearing premiered in 1993 at the Bush Theatre, London, where it won the Time Out Theatre Award and was joint winner of the John Whiting Award. It has since received numerous productions throughout the British Isles. It had its American premiere at Chicago's Seanachai Theatre Company in 1996, and was subsequently performed at Hartford Stage, Florida Stage, and New York's Blue Light Theatre Company.

“Edmundson's writing is passionate, poetic, muscular,” wrote the London Sunday Times. “She is doing for 17th-century Anglo-Irish history what Arthur Miller did for 17th-century New England history in The Crucible: creating an idiom which resurrects the past but brings its conflicts within touching distance of the present. The result is gripping, the story powerfully told [it] will have you on the edge of your seats." 
The Chicago Reader agreed, adding: “The play is luminously written, with an unpredictable, suspenseful plot, and theatrical characterizations and imagery...Finally, a voice in the theatre that sings with emotion, intellect, conscience, and a sense of history. The Clearing is a blessing and a warning for us all.”

Directed by Robert O’Reilly, the cast includes Chad Borden, Robert Budaska, Denise Dillard, Blaise Messinger, Tim O'Hare, David Rose, Faith Salie, and Alison Shanks.  

The Clearing “spoke” to O’Reilly, for as he says, “I’m Irish on all sides. The first of my ancestors arrived in Boston so long ago that no records exist, but family lore has always had them coming here in the 17th Century to escape Cromwell. Another side arrived in New York in 1839 — they were lucky, because they got out just one year before the Potato Famine. Still others came to New York in 1886, and one of my grandmothers spoke Gaelic as her first language. All of my relatives brought an oral history with them to America, relating ‘the troubles’: famine, persecution, and all the rest. That history fascinated me, and some of it horrified me. 

“The idea of ‘ethnic cleansing’ is not a 20th or 21st Century phenomenon,” he continues, “because as someone once said, ‘History is not so much repeated as plagiarized over and over again.’”
Helen Edmundson founded the female agit-prop ensemble Red Stockings Theatre company in 1988, in which whe worked as an actress, writer, and director. Her first play, Flying, was presented at the Royal National Theatre Studio in 1990. She has written three acclaimed stage adaptations: Anna Karenina (Time Out Award, Theatre Manager's Association Award for Best Touring Production), The Mill on the Floss, and War and Peace, which was staged at the National theatre, toured Britain, and then was presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival. 

O’Reilly has staged the Colony productions of The Curious Savage, Bearcat, 'night, Mother, 17 Days, Morning’s at Seven, The Cocktail Hour, and Getting Out, for which he received a Drama-Logue Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle nomination. He also directed the Colony’s World Premiere of Generations by Dennis Clontz, which the American Theatre Critics’ Association cited, along with August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, as one of the best new plays presented that year outside New York City. 

Per The Colony’s Special Agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the theatre will continue to be curtained off to 168 seats for The Clearing and through the remainder of the current season. With the start of the 2002-2003 season, the company will begin performing at full 276-seat capacity under Equity contracts.

The Clearing opens Saturday, September 22, 2001 and is scheduled to run through November 18. Performance times are: 8 PM, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 PM matinee on Sunday. (Note: There are no performances November 1, 8, 9, 15, 16.) Ticket prices for Thursday and Friday are $25 ($22 for Students and Seniors); Saturday, all seats $28; Sunday, $28 ($25 for Students and Seniors).  A number of low-priced previews (all tickets $10) are scheduled to begin Friday, September 14. Due to intense subject matter, this play is not suitable for young children.
CONTACTS: Catherine Springer
(818) 558-7000
Bob Canning,