December 14, 2018

Noted Author Joyce Carol Oates to Attend Theatricum Opening of Tone Clusters, Sept. 5


TOPANGA, CA—Multiple award-winning, three-time Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Joyce Carol Oates will lead a panel discussion following the opening night performance of her play, Tone Clusters, on Sept. 5 at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.


Noted Author Joyce Carol Oates to Attend Theatricum Opening of <i>Tone Clusters</i>, Sept. 5

Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James will perform in Tone Clusters at the Theatricum Botanicum starting on Sept. 5.

In Tone Clusters, real-life married couple Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James portray Frank and Emily Gulick, an ordinary American husband and wife who find themselves trapped in the media spotlight when their son is arrested as the alleged killer of a neighborhood girl. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Tone Clusters is about the ‘spectacularization’ of tragedy in our culture,” says director Mike Peebler. “It’s about the way we take horrible events and turn them into a product to be consumed, passing instantaneous judgment and dehumanizing those involved in the process.”

In the play, the media is represented by a detached and disembodied voice (Jeff Wiesen).

According to an article in The New York Times, Oates was inspired by the real-life case of Robert Golub who was convicted of brutally murdering a 13-year-old neighbor. The case tore apart the neighborhood and made the Golubs pariahs.

“Without altering the basic facts,” The Times wrote, “Ms. Oates has changed the names, shifted the scene to Lakepoint, NJ, and made a surreal interview with the murderer's parents a metaphor for the cold hypocrisy of the television age.”

“Although written in 1990, Tone Clusters is even more relevant in 2013,” notes Peebler. “With our current 24/7 news cycle, everything is about ratings and number of clicks. We have taken tragedy and turned it into a commodity.”

Rounding out the evening, Jonathan Blandino, Cynthia Kania and Sarah Lyddan will perform four monologues by Oates: "The Orange," "The Mirror," "Slow Motion" and "I Stand Before You Naked."

Tone Clusters was first performed in 1990 as part of the Humana Festival of New Plays at the Actors Theater of Louisville, where it was the recipient of the Heideman Award. It later received the Fringe Report Award for Best Play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

About Joyce Carol Oates: The author of many distinguished books in several genres, Joyce Carol Oates is one of America's most versatile contemporary writers. Oates has been nominated for almost every major literary honor, including the 2005 Prix Femina, France's literary prize for the best novel published in their country, for “The Falls;” the 2004 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts; PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in short fiction; the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the O'Henry Prize for Continued Achievement in the Short Story; the National Book Award for her novel, “them;” and, in 1978, membership in the American Academy-Institute.

Her work covers a wide variety of genres, from Gothic to suspense, fantasy and children's literature. In addition to numerous novels and short story collections, she has published poetry, plays, literary criticism and the book-length essay “On Boxing.” “What I Lived For” was nominated for the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award and her novels “Black Water,” “What I Lived For” and “Blonde” were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.

About Alan Blumenfeld: A Theatricum company member since 1985, Alan Blumenfeld can currently be seen as Oscar Wolff in Theatricum’s production of The Royal Family.

About Katherine James: Katherine James has previously appeared at Theatricum in Heartbreak House, Tally’s Folly, The Winter’s Tale and Lysistrata among others.

About Mike Peebler: Director Mike Peebler has appeared in more than 25 Shakespeare productions with five different theater companies, and has directed at Theatricum and Culver City Public Theater.

Six performances of "Tone Clusters" take place on Thursdays, Sept. 5, 12, 19 and 26; Friday, Oct. 4; and Saturday, Oct. 12, in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Pavilion, Theatricum’s intimate second performance space. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Each performance will be followed by an audience talk-back, the first one moderated by Oates.

Tickets are: $25 general admission; $15 for seniors, students, military veterans and members of Actors Equity. Audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Snacks are available at the Hamlet Hut, and picnickers are welcome before and after the performance.