Auctioning the Ainsleys

Auctioning the Ainsleys

By Laura Schellhardt

Directed by Meredith McDonough

Originally produced at TheatreWorks, Palo Alto, CA.

July 17, 2010 through August 8, 2010

About the Premiere Production:
Going once…going twice…The bids come fast and furious as a family of professional auctioneers puts its heart, its heritage, and even its darkest secrets on the block in this comic drama that electrified our New Works Festival. With a brilliant flair for mystery, language, and laughter, one of America’s hottest young playwrights explores what happens when what we own becomes more important than who we are.

Artistic Statement: 
Is my great pleasure to be opening our 41st season with world premiere of Auctioning the Ainsleys as the cornerstone of our New Works Festival where it was first seen in workshop form one short year ago! This project is special, and is a perfect illustration of the artistic partnerships that develop between New Works Initiative artists and TheatreWorks. When I first came across a Laura Schellhardt’s Auctioning the Ainsleys as a reading at the Northlight Theatre in Chicago, I had just gone through the painful process of packing of my childhood home. This difficult time, the literal packing of my past, choosing what gets discarded and what must be held close was one of the loneliest moments in my life. This deeply personal experience made me feel as if no one else could understand what I was going through. And yet, as I watched the delightful story unfold before me, and as the audience laughed, cried, and sighed along with me, I realized that this play was speaking to a common part of our hearts. The part that we eternally carry with us after the last of the family heirlooms are auctioned away, the part that cherishes the memory of our childhood home, the part that never quite lets go of yesteryear. Simultaneously, the play encourages the process of letting go, helping us realize that we are not defined by our belongings, and that we are truly who we are – solid and strong on our own two feet. Auctioning the Ainsleys celebrates the depth and duality of this uniquely personal time of transition in truthful and moving way.

Schellhardt builds on that connection as she magically paints the physical world; here, objects literally disappear as the mother slips closer to her final moments. This is a play of the American repertoire – it’s beautiful and delicate story is one that audiences of all backgrounds can share and is one for which you must be in a theatre to fully experience. The complexities of its characters contrasted with the delight of its magical realism are the same as those that draw us to Williams and Kushner and Ruhl. At this moment in the American Theatre, I believe we need to support and further our truly theatrical playwrights – this is a time to ignite our audiences’ imagination, not coddle them with sitcom stories and situations. Its captivating theatrical style and its exploration of the resilience of the human spirit is what ensures Auctioning the Ainsleys a place in the repertoire of frequently produced American plays. - from New Works Director, Meredith McDonough

Director: Meredith McDonough

Set Design: Annie Smart

Lighting Design: Paul Toben

Sound Design: Cliff Caruthers

Costume Design: Annie Smart

Cast: Alice Ainsley - Diane Dorsey*

Avery Ainsley - Heidi Kettenring*

Aiden Ainsley - Liam Vincent

Annalee Ainsley - Molly Anne Coogan*

Amelia Ainsley - Jessica Lynn Carroll*

Arthur - Lance Gardner*

Additional Funders: The world premiere of Auctioning the Ainsleys is part of our New Works Initiative which is funded in part by the James Irvine Foundation, the Dramatists Guild Fund, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the Microsoft Corporation.


Exceptional, amusing 'Ainsleys'

The Daily Journal, July 27, 2010


Worth the highest bid

Palo Alto Online, July 23, 2010


Theater Review: 'Auctioning the Ainsleys'

Stark Insider, July 20, 2010


Theater review: 'Auctioning the Ainsleys'

San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 2010

Subsequent Productions:

People's Light  Malvern, PA October 14, 2015 - November 8, 2015