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Staged Reading - Benefactors

By Michael Frayn

A staged Reading

Directed by Matthew Surrence

Tuesday - August 7, 2012 8 p.m.


Benefactorsby Michael Frayn, directed by Matthew Surrence Tuesday August 7th at 8 p.m.  The award-winning BENEFACTORS(1984) was written by Frayn in the period immediately after NOISES OFF, and features the idealistic architect David and his wife Jane, and the cynical Colin and his wife Sheila.

David is consumed by his projects to improve the housing of the poor, likewise Jane with her anthropological dissection of David's work, Sheila's need for love which finds her interjecting herself into everyone else's life, and Colin's need to oppose it all, which paradoxically leads to his own beneficent acts.  Where does the urge to help come from?  Is beneficence a disease?  Can it be curedBENEFACTORS is directed by the actor, playwright and director Matthew Surrence, who recently brought a reading of Stoppard's The Real Thing to the Live Oak Stage.  Explore what can be done to help the helpers (self-help-help?) on Tuesday August 7th at 8 p.m.

2012 Summer Staged Reading Series


By Michael Frayn

A staged reading, Directed by Matthew Surrence

ONE NIGHT ONLY - Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 8 p.m.


David  ---------------- Paul Stout

Jane ------------------ Anna Andersen

Colin ----------------- Greg Estes

Sheila ---------------- Martha Luehrmann

Matthew Surrence, formerly the theatre critic of the Oakland Tribune, has appeared at Actors Ensemble in Curse of the Starving Class, Heartbreak House, and Arcadia. During the run of Arcadia he directed a staged reading of The Real Thing, and during the run of Heartbreak House he directed a staged reading of The Night of the Burning Pestle, a revival of his Subterranean Shakespeare production. His plays include The Agony of the Leaves, a romantic comedy set in Berkeley, and '06: A Not Entirely Untrue Tale of San Francisco, a vaudeville melodrama about the 1906 earthquake and fire. He studied acting with Allan Miller. His mentor and American Studies thesis advisor at San Francisco State University is Humanities Chairman Emeritus Rodger C. Birt.


Anna Andersen is a recent transplant in Southern California, where she acted and directed in just over 75 plays in just under 25 years. Her favorites include playing Kate in Taming of the Shrew, directing Macbeth, and writing/ directing/ performing an educational outreach program that brought Shakespeare to thousands of students in LA. This is Anna's fourth staged reading and she's having a delightful time. A habitual director, she thanks and reproaches Vicki for putting her back on the stage.

Greg Estes has most recently played Captain Brice in AE's production of Arcadia, and Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and Blazes Boylan in Wilde Irish's Annual Bloomsday Celebrations.  A favorite quote of his from Ulysses is apropos of his feelings about being a benefeciary of AE's staged reading of Benefactors: A.E.I.O.U.

Martha Luehrmann (Sheila) Local audiences may remember Martha as Martha in James Keller’s Good Housekeeping, the Nazi sympathizer in Roland David de Valayre’s BooKKeepers, the nanny in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, the murderess in Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced, Abby Brewster in Arsenic & Old Lace, and Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. She is delighted to be working with Matthew Surrence in this Michael Frayn play.

Chico native Paul Stout (David) lives in San Francisco and has in the past three years appeared with various local troupes including Marin Shakespeare, Custom Made Theatre, Boxcar Theatre, Off-Broadway West and TheatrePub. He was last seen with AE as Septimus Hodge in our recent production of Arcadia.

Thanks to:  Alecks Rundell and Jerome Solberg

$5-$10 sliding scale.  Cash or check only at the door.  Box office/will call opens 1/2 hour before start of show - Box office located inside the lobby.  Wheelchair accessible - use the north side lobby entrance.

Tags: Staged Readings

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Thank You

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is delighted to acknowledge the Berkeley Civic Arts Program and Civic Arts Commission's support in the form of a grant of $8,000.00 awarded in 2017. Also, a thank you to Theatre Bay Area for a grant of $2,500.00.

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley - P.O. Box 663 - Berkeley - California - 94701 ¦ Our Answering Service: (510) 649-5999 ¦

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Federal Tax ID #946139640, since 04-1967