IDEATION at City Lights Theater

In addition to the terrific large regional theatre companies we have here, the Bay Area is also rich in small  jewel box theatre companies doing some great work.  One of the best is City Lights Theater Company in San Jose, and they are producing one of my favorite new plays of the century:  Ideation.

Founded in 1982 as a collective dedicated to producing challenging, offbeat works by local playwrights, CLTC_Logo_V_Red_newCity Lights has grown and changed significantly.   Current Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette  (who is  also an actress and in the cast of Ideation) took the helm in 2001 and has led a successful artistic and fiscal restructuring effort which now sees the theatre offering six plays each season in its 100-seat space (which somehow feels larger to me) — often exciting,  well-done new works with great casts and fine direction.  City Lights won six Theatre Bay Area awards in its tier for 2016 (including Best Production of a Play for Handle With Care and Outstanding Direction for Mark Anderson Phillips for Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde).

Next up in City Lights’ current season is Aaron Loeb’s Ideation, directed by Mark Anderson Phillips.  I have written about this stunningly good play before, having seen it first in the Sandbox Series of new play readings and then fully produced at San Francisco Playhouse (it won the 2013 Glickman Award for best new play premiering in the Bay Area) and then reported on its off-Broadway run in New York last spring where it became a New York Times Critics’ Pick.  I fully expect the City Lights’ production to be as riveting, witty, horrifying and thought-provoking.  Don’t ask what it’s about – just go!  This extraordinary play will not leave your thoughts for a very long time.

City Lights Theatre IDEATION cast: George Psarras, Sunny Moza, Lisa Mallette, Tom Gough, Max Tachis   Photo by Taylor Sanders

City Lights Theatre IDEATION cast: George Psarras,
Sunny Moza, Lisa Mallette, Tom Gough, Max Tachis
Photo by Taylor Sanders

OK.  If you must know a little,  here is how City Lights describes the play:

“In this gripping dark comedy and psychological thriller, a group of corporate consultants are brought together to work on a mysterious—and ethically ambiguous—project. They soon find themselves trapped in a world where ethics are an afterthought and the lines between right and wrong have become hopelessly blurred. Amidst office in-fighting and corporate paranoia, they must work their way through moral quandaries that challenge their values and beliefs.”

Ideation runs January 19-February 19 at City Lights Theater Company, 529 S. Second Street, San Jose, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2. (No show on Jan. 22.) For details and tickets, go to or call 408-295-4200.  (Pay What You Can Night: Thursday, Jan. 19, 8 p.m.; $19 Preview Night: Friday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.)


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