Friday, June 22 , 2018, 5:26 pm | Partly Cloudy 65º


Ensemble Theatre Presents "The Syringa Tree"

Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara (ETC) presents the award-winning play The Syringa Tree, a deeply moving coming-of-age story set in South Africa.


Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara (ETC) presents the award-winning play The Syringa Tree, a deeply moving coming-of-age story set in South Africa.

This engaging one-woman drama, which has played to acclaim throughout the world, will open in Santa Barbara on Thursday, March 27, and play through Sunday, April 20. Opening night is Saturday March 29.


Spanning four generations, The Syringa Tree is a stunning tale of sweeping political upheaval as seen through the eyes of a 6-year old girl trying to make sense out of the chaos of South Africa in the early 1960s. The fates of two families —one white, one black — are intertwined in this story of enduring love.

"The audience is held captive…there are few theatrical enterprises so uncompromising," says The New York Times.

Jonathan Fox, Ensemble’s Executive Artistic Director, is thrilled to welcome back Shannon Koob, who appeared in last season’s "This is How it Goes."

An accomplished New York-based actor, Koob has performed at the top regional theatres in the U.S., as well as in Europe, New York and the west coast. "I am continually touched by the humanity and grace that is at the heart of this remarkable play" says Koob. In "The Syringa Tree," Koob inhabits 24 characters, old and young, black and white, Afrikaans, Zulu and Jewish, brilliantly embodying the complexities of her characters’ dreams, struggles, laughter and tragic losses. Through the eyes of the narrator, 6-year-old Elizabeth, the audience is transported into a vivid world rarely portrayed on stage. This show promises to be a genuine treat for Santa Barbara audiences.



Guest director Michael Evan Haney, at the helm of "The Syringa Tree," is celebrating 35 years in the professional theatre during which time he has directed over 60 productions and acted in over 75. Haney is currently the Associate Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. "The Syringa Tree gives audiences hope for the future of humanity," says Haney. "We see our fears, our hopes and our dreams all filtered through the eyes of a young white South African girl."

Born in Johannesburg, playwright and actor Pamela Gien grew up during the height of apartheid. After receiving her degree in Dramatic Arts she moved to the United States and became a member of A.R.T. (America Repertory Theatre). "The Syringa Tree" began as an exercise in an acting class, not originally intended to be performed by one actor. "The Syringa Tree" has garnered numerous awards, including the OBIE Award for Best Play of 2001, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critic’s Circle Award.

The Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara was founded in 1979 and is housed at the intimate Alhecama Theatre located in the historic Presidio District in downtown Santa Barbara at 914 Santa Barbara Street. ETC is Santa Barbara’s longest running, most award winning professional resident theatre company, now in its 28th anniversary season under the stewardship of Executive Artistic Director Jonathan Fox. The 2007-08 season finishes with a co-production with the Vienna English Theatre of Old Wicked Songs by Jon Marans (May 29 to June 22).

Performances run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 pm. Ticket prices for "The Syringa Tree" range from $25.00 to $40.00. ETC offers discounts to students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. ETC presents a low-cost preview on Thursday, March 27. Subscriptions, single tickets and group tickets are available through the Ensemble Theatre Box Office at 805-962-8606 or online at

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