answer that question themselves by attendingone of two current productions of the play in question – Jonathan Spector’s Eureka Day. You can catch it Off-Broadway in New York, or you can go to the NorthBay’s Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park where it’s runningthrough September 22.
Commissioned andproduced by Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre Company in 2018, Oakland-based playwrightSpector’s look at how the leaders of a Berkeley Charter School deal with anoutbreak of the mumps won that year’s Bay Area Critics Circle Award forOriginal Script. Not really a debate on the issue of vaccinations (it’s clearin the play where Spector stands), it’s more a look at how the attempt to findcommon ground on certain issues is an exercise in futility.
Everything you needto know about the school becomes clear in the first minutes. Gathered in theschool library, the members of the School’s Executive Committee are discussingwhether to add “Transracial Adoptee” as an option for prospective parents onthe school web site. As everything at Eureka Day is decided by consensus, a lengthydebate ensues between Head of School Don (Jeff Coté), and parents Suzanne(Sarah McKereghan), Carina (Val Sinckler), Meiko (Eiko Yamamoto), and Eli (RickEldrege). This debate and its various amusing sidetracks set you up for theeven larger debate to follow.
The school isnotified that one of their students has contracted the mumps and the CountyHealth Department is prohibiting students with no documentation of immunityfrom returning to school. How will the consensus-minded board and the parentsdeal with an issue that has no consensus?
Hysterically, itturns out, as the first act ends with a brilliantly scripted “CommunityActivated Conversation” (their term for a Facebook Live session) between theExecutive Committee and the parents that is gut-bustingly funny.
So yes, a playabout vaccines can be a laughing matter. The second act shows that It can alsobe somber, serious, and enlightening. Director Elizabeth Craven and herpitch-perfect cast give life to Spector’s infuriating, moving and completelyrecognizable characters who manage to give us insight into why some people choose to believe what they believe without validatingthose choices.
Sometimes agreeingto disagree just isn’t enough. Can we all agree on that?
‘Eureka Day’ runsthrough September 22 at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park.Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; the Sunday matinee isat 2pm. There’s also a Thursday, September 19 performance at 7:30pm.
For moreinformation, go to spreckelsonline.com