A Noise Within producers are tipping their hat to the city where their company took root as they embark on their final 19th season in Glendale before heading to their new Pasadena theater in the fall of 2011.
The season's theme, "The Heart of the Matter — Finding the essence of eternity in a changing world," reflects the company's journey from its beginnings in 1992 at its leased base in Glendale to the present and on the eve of moving to its new space in Pasadena, said Julia Rodriguez-Elliott who is co-artistic director with her husband Geoff Elliott.
"Eternity is the cycle that continues," she said. "In a sense there are big changes for us, but the essence of who and what we are doesn't change. There's physical motion."
Actor Jill Hill, a resident artist since its first season, said that Glendale will continue to be part of the company.
"It's part of our history that we are thankful for and it will always be a part of us," she said. "We're going to a city next door but it's like we are just widening the pool…people won't leave our hearts and they obviously won't leave us because everyone is coming to see us there."
The season features seven productions including the West Coast premiere of a new adaptation by Neil Bartlett of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations."
Producers wanted to bring something back that helped to define company, Rodriguez-Elliott said, and this was a production with which they had success early in the company's development.
"I think the first time we did it was in 1995 and it really played to what I think A Noise Within's strengths are including a sense of ensemble, actors who are versatile and are able to play multiple roles within a space that is physically spare, where there is not a lot of scenery — so it's about engaging the imagination of the audience," she said.
The piece will also appeal not only to the company's adult audience but also student viewers through its educational program in which actors conduct workshops in Southern California schools and students are also brought to the theater, she said.
In the spring, the company will produce "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale," by Tennessee Wiliams.
"It's a wonderful play," Rodriguez-Elliott said. "It really fit within the theme we were looking at. We haven't done Tennessee Wiliams in a couple of seasons. We always do two Shakespeare plays and an American Classic."
Each play this season has ties to the move to Pasadena — the essence of the eternal, she said.
Rodriguez-Elliott said she and her husband find the journey at this point unbelievable and extraordinary.
"It's moving to this whole new level," she said. "And there's no question about it, there are challenges. We still have the campaign to complete as well, [but] there is a real feeling of joy and accomplishment, and we didn't do it alone, a lot of people helped us get here."
She thanks the city of Glendale, which helped the company financially to convert the Glendale theater space and the owners of the building that house the theater, Robert and Dennis DePietro.
"If it wasn't for them, there wouldn't be A Noise Within," she said. "It's an extraordinary gift to be in this building, and they have allowed us to develop as an artistic organization."
Actor Len Lesser of Burbank, who played Uncle Leo on TV's "Seinfeld," has appeared in several A Noise Within productions. He said he is impressed with how well the couple has led the company in making the move to Pasadena.
"I think it's quite miraculous what they've done and what they are doing," he said. "They have been working at it full time. I wish them well. I don't see how they can miss."
And the process of moving to Pasadena is bittersweet, because the new space will allow the company to grow, she said.
The key word is access, she said.
"We have access to more seats for adult and student productions," she said. "We now have room to bring in 10,000 students a year but we will be able to bring in 20,000 in the new space."
For the record: An early version of this story misspelled DePietro.