Catherine Borek, Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Theatre Company today announced that Catherine Borek, star of the documentary "OT: OUR TOWN," will join director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and representatives from Rubicon's cast of Our Town, for a panel discussion following the 6:00 p.m. screening of the award-winning film next Monday, March 4, at the Century 10 Downtown Theatre, 555 E. Main Street.
Rubicon is partnering with Downtown Ventura Partners improvement district and the Ventura Film Society to present the 70-minute film opening week of Rubicon's 75th anniversary production of Thornton Wilder's stage play Our Town, which begins previews on Wednesday, March 6, and opens Saturday, March 9. The production, which is the centerpiece of Rubicon's 15th Season (entitled "Our Town/Your Theatre") continues through March 31 at 1006 E. Main in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District.
About the Panelists
Scott Hamilton Kennedy produced, directed, shot and co-edited "OT: Our Town" which garnered rave reviews and was included on several "Best of..." lists, including the L.A. Times. "OT" was an official selection and won awards at some of the top film festivals in the world including Toronto, LAFF (Best Documentary), Tribeca, SXSW, Palm Springs Int'l (Audience Award), Aspen (Audience Award), Santa Barbara FF, and the Heartland Film Festival (Crystal Heart Award).
"OT" was also honored by being "short listed" for an Oscar nomination, and was nominated for Best Documentary by the Independent Spirit Awards. Kennedy went on to establish himself as a director of music videos, commercials, and promos for clients as diverse as Tony Bennett, CBS, and Mattel. Currently, Scott's feature-length documentary "The Garden" won an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2009; and in 2012 he completed "Fame High," about the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA).
Catherine Borek began teaching at Dominguez High School in Compton when she was assigned a two-year commitment there by Teach for America in 1996. She was the teacher and director who decided, without resources and against all odds, to produce Our Town with her students, the experience chronicled in "OT: Our Town" by Kennedy. Many years later, she is still in the same job, which she loves, and has followed Our Town with student productions every year, including Stand and Deliver, The Outsiders, and Inherit the Wind. Since Our Town, every play Catherine and her students have produced has sold out. "The cafeteria is electric on these nights, and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride for my students, my colleagues and my school."
(Borek and Hamilton met during the filming of "OT: Our Town," and have since married and had a child.)
James O'Neil, who plays the character of the Stage Manager in Rubicon's upcoming production of Our Town) co-founded Rubicon Theatre Company in 1998 with his wife Karyl Lynn Burns. Over fifteen seasons, he has produced and/or directed more than a hundred productions, winning numerous awards including the Ovation, the LA Drama Critics' Circle, the NAACP, numerous Independent and Stage Scene LA awards and, most recently, a New York Drama Desk award. As an actor, Jim appeared as Pontius Pilate in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson. Regional appearances include Dr. Prospero in the American premiere of Return to the Forbidden Planet at Hallmark's American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, John Adams in 1776, John in Oleanna, John in Lips Together Teeth Apart, The Duke/Dr. Carrasco in Man of La Mancha and Adam in the first reading of Dale Wasserman's Western Star. Theatres at which Jim has appeared include ANTA West, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Ensemble Theatre Company. For Rappcity Records, he has appeared on numerous concept albums including "Rasputin" (as Czar Nicholas II with Ted Neeley, Amanda McBroom and John Hurt). For Rubicon, Jim has appeared in The Turn of the Screw, as Claudius in Hamlet (Indy Award), and in The Little Foxes, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Rainmaker and, most recently, Little Miss Scrooge.
Jenny Sullivan (Director of Rubicon's upcoming production of Our Town) directed the World Premiere of Jane Anderson's The Baby Dance at The Pasadena Playhouse, which then moved to Williamstown Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics' Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway. The directed multiple shows over six seasons at Williamstown Theatre Festival. At Rubicon, where she is an Artistic Associate, Jenny has helmed Steel Magnolias (Indy Award), The Mystery of Irma Vep (2012 Ovation Nomination for Direction), Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal; Tea at Five, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Indy Award) with Joe Spano, You Can't Take It With You, Hamlet (Indy Award) with Joseph Fuqua, Defying Gravity, Art (Indy Award), Dancing at Lughnasa (Indy Award), The Rainmaker with Stephanie Zimbalist and John Bennett Perry, The Little Foxes, and Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua, and many others. Jenny directed The Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln with Granville Van Dusen and Tea at Five with Stephanie Zimbalist for The Falcon Theatre. For Theatre 40, Jenny helmed Tom Dugan's Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal (2011 Ovation Nomination for direction); Nora and Delia Ephron's Love, Loss, and What I Wore at The Geffen; and The Vagina Monologues for the Canon and Coronet theatres. Jenny's film credits include "Access All Areas" and "The Next Best Thing" (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry). Jenny is most proud of the World Premiere of her play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late, great John Ritter.
Originally released in 2002, "OT: Our Town" takes us into the classrooms of Dominguez High in Compton, California - a school that hasn't produced a play in over twenty years. Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy catches on camera the journey two teachers and twenty-four students take leading up to their performance of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic Our Town. With no money and no stage, the cast initially struggles to overcome both personal trials and perceived difficulties related to a story set 100 years ago. But soon the students rise to the challenge and create a moving, unique version of this famous play for their infamous town.
"OT: Our Town" garnered enthusiastic praise from critics upon its premiere and received acclaim from major newspapers across the country. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times called it, "Terrific fun! Lively and touching," while LA Weekly heralded the film as "smart, funny and deeply moving." Variety deemed the documentary, "extraordinary...an instant classic." The film was accepted into several prestigious festivals, included the Toronto International Film Festival and the Tribeca International Film Festival. Its critical acclaim extended to many festival awards, including Audience Awards at Aspen Filmfest and Palm Springs International Film Festival, Best Documentary at Los Angeles IFP/West Film Festival and a nomination of Best Documentary at the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards.
When Rubicon's Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns learned about "OT: Our Town" through Lorenzo DeStefano of the Ventura Film Society, she was struck by the enormous impact Wilder's classic play had on the students and the community in Compton. "Putting on Our Town created such a strong bond between the students, and the play became an outlet for them to reconnect with their families and the community," Burns said. "Fostering that kind of connection with the community is exactly what we hope to achieve with our production of Our Town."
DeStefano worked with the film company to secure the print of the film and arranged for filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy (who also received an Academy Award nomination for his film "The Garden") to participate in a panel discussion after the 70-minute screening with several of the actors from Rubicon Theatre Company's production of Our Town and director Jenny Sullivan. A Q & A will be facilitated by producer Steve Binder.
Kevin Clerici of the Downtown Ventura Partners improvement district worked to interface between the City of Ventura and Cinemark to arrange for use of the large theatre for the screening.
Says Burns, "We are excited about this first-time collaboration between our three organizations and the City of Ventura and look forward to finding other ways to share resources and ideas in the future."
Burns and husband James O'Neil (Rubicon's Artistic Director - who also plays the character of the Stage Manager in Our Town) chose Our Town as the centerpiece of Rubicon's 15th Anniversary Season, a natural fit for a season dedicated to reaching out and reconnecting with the Ventura community.
Says O'Neil, "Wilder's passionate and poetic play has grown over time to be one of the most produced shows in America, in large part because of its ability to reveal the deepest and most complex bonds within a community through the clearest and most simple language."
Tickets for the screening are free to Rubicon subscribers (with advance reservations), $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students.
By screening "OT: Our Town" before the first preview performance of Rubicon's Our Town and offering low-priced student tickets to the screening and the show, the collaborating groups hope Ventura's students and audience members will see Our Town not as an outdated or old-fashioned play about people they won't relate to, but will recognize that Our Town is about 21st Century Ventura, just as it was about Compton for the students who created the production in the documentary.
"OT: Our Town," an award-winning documentary film by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, will be screened at 6 pm on March 4, 2013 at the Century 10 Downtown Theatre, located at 555 E. Main Street in Ventura, 93001. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and with the director and cast members from Rubicon Theatre's production of Our Town. Tickets are free to Rubicon subscribers with advance reservations, $10 for general admission, senior (65+) tickets are $7, and student (with valid ID) tickets are $5. Due to limited seating, all tickets must be purchased in advance through the Rubicon Theatre Company BOX OFFICE, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance), by phone at (805) 667-2900, or online at www.rubicontheatre.org.
Tickets will also be available at the Ventura Film Society's February 19th and March 5th 7:15 pm screenings, 420 E. Santa Clara St. (@ Oak) in Downtown Ventura., and online at www.venturafilmsociety.com/tickets.html.
Pictured: Catherine Borek directing the production of Our Town at Dominguez High School in Compton that the documentary captures.
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