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"An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences."

Read the raves!

Underneath the Lintel

by Glen Berger

$30  Adult
$28  Seniors 62+ Friday/Saturday nights

When a reclusive librarian discovers a 113-year overdue book in the night slot, curiosity compels him to pursue the borrower. His search for answers leads to a worldwide, whirlwind journey, where he discovers instead the great mysteries of humanity. Called “powerfully human and ultimately sublime,” this comic tale reminds us that the joy is in the journey itself.
Featuring beloved Sonoma County actor John Shillington (She Loves Me, The Price, Time Stands Still) as the Librarian.

“So ultimately, for me, this play is at its heart, a funny, endearing, challenging, clever beautifully written story about…us. With a capital U.” — John Craven, director

This production is made possible by gifts from Sponsor Circle Members
in memory of our beloved librarian, WALTER ROEDER
with additional support from

This production of Underneath the Lintel originally appeared on the boards at Mainstage West, our beloved theater neighbors in Sebastopol. We are grateful for their kind and professional aid in making this remount effortless, delightful and ever-powerful.


The Librarian

John Shillington



John Craven

Stage Manager

Ross Tiffany Brown

Set Design

Joseph Elwick

Costumes, Props, Slides and Sound

Eizabeth Craven

Lighting Design

Alisha Ramos

JOHN SHILLINGTON (The Librarian) was raised in Ohio and rarely traveled outside the state. In 1982 he traveled to Ghost Ranch New Mexico where he directed his future wife Elizabeth in his first play, The Miracle Worker. They got married in 1986, the year the Baedeker’s book was returned to the Hoofdorp Library. However, Elizabeth would only marry him if he agreed to live all over the world. Always a reluctant traveler, he followed her all over the world, directing various plays, such as The inspector General in Kenya, The Matchmaker in China, Chinaman in India, and Tartuffe in a spiritual community in Scotland. When they adopted two kids in Guatemala, he founded a theatre company in Antigua, and directed a slew of plays over years,  from Death of a Salesman to Same Time Next Year.
Metaphysically speaking, John stumbled upon The Course in Miracles when he turned 30. The Course offered him the radical notion that miracles are simply a shift in perception! From that point on he quantitatively enjoyed travel and the journey much more.
John has taught Theatre at Santa Rosa Jr. College since 2000 where he has directed numerous plays including Phantom of the Opera, In the Heights, and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Elizabeth died in 2006. After raising the kids, he turned 50 and was looking for a new adventure without traveling. A friend told him that the 50s was the decade of living fearlessly. So he decided to tread the boards again in Jekyll and Hyde and Young Frankenstein at Spreckles, as well as Souvenir (awarded a Best Actor from the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle) and Equus at 6thStreet Playhouse. He appeared in She Loves Me, The Price, Time Stands Still, and Mahalia Jackson at Cinnabar.  He has directed Shirley Valentine and Fiddler on the Roof at Cinnabar as well.
John did a production of Underneath the Lintel at Main Stage West five years ago. He was thrilled when Elly asked him to do it again. Although John is not sure of the date of his death yet, he has tentatively put on his calendar to remount this show every five years until he is horizontal.

ELIZABETH CRAVEN (Costume, Properties, Slides and Sound) is Artistic Director of Main Stage West in Sebastopol, CA.. She is A lifetime theater artist/educator who has taught, directed and designed theater in Sonoma County and beyond since 1980. Her award-winning productions have been seen in theaters across the USA and abroad. She taught theater at Sonoma State University (1986-1995) and University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1995-2005), serving as head of MFA Performance Program and a resident director of The Clarence Brown Theater (LORT). Elizabeth was also co-artistic director, with Amy Glazer, of Western Union Theater Company in residence at Cinnabar for ten years (1986-1996). In 2005 Elizabeth returned to Sonoma County where she was employed as Executive Director of 6th Street Playhouse (2005 -2010). In 2011 Elizabeth and a group of local theater artists founded the Performing Artists Coalition for Theater, a non-profit corporations doing business as Main Stage West.

JOHN CRAVEN (Director) has served as an actor and/or director for several local theaters over the span of almost forty years, including various incarnations at Cinnabar Theater, the original Actors’ Theater, 6th Street Playhouse, Spreckels PAC, Porchlight Theater of Marin, The Imaginists, and others. For the last eight years, John has been a core member of Main Stage West Theater in Sebastopol, with frequent appearances there. In fact, Main Stage West originally produced Underneath the Lintel five years ago.
Primarily an actor, John has, nonetheless, directed several productions including George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak Houseand Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story here at Cinnabar. Under the umbrella of Western Union Theater, John and company also produced several pieces at Cinnabar for ten years in the 1980’s. Carol Mayo Jenkin’s direction of Noel Coward’s Private Lives a decade or two laterat Cinnabar is also a favorite.
In recent years, John has been cast in a few films, including Ian Olds Burn Country,Mario Furloni and Kate Mclean’s short, Marty, and feature film, Freeland,the latter now in post production.
Also, for twenty-seven years, John was the founder and co-director of the Art Quest Theater Arts program at Santa Rosa High School. He now has the great pleasure of working with many of those young actors as colleagues.
Finally, John first met John Shillington one night after a performance of Heartbreak Househere at Cinnabar. Though a great admirer of John’s work, Underneath the Lintel  has been their only collaboration, making this production even more special than it would be ordinarily.

JOSEPH ELWICK (Set Designer) As a high school graduate, Joe told himself he was done with the world of live theater. But it turns out theater was not done with him. It would come years later, in the form of a woman, whom he would later marry. One night she asked him if he would like to help her design a show for the theater she worked at. She was in a bind and needed the help. At the time he was studying to be become an architect, so a set design would be right up his alley. Tirelessly he worked, day and night around the clock to design a show he could be proud of. He was successful.  After that first design he was convinced this is something he would love to pursue, part-time. A full-time career in theater was not something he was interested in. Now here we are, seven years later, sitting in this theater looking at his latest design. Is it his best? Is it his worst? Will there be others after this one? No one knows, life holds many secrets. Many different avenues that you will take, some leading back to now, and some leading to the different future. He hopes you enjoy this now, and this future.

RamosALISHA RAMOS (Lighting Designer) works for several theatre companies around Sonoma County. Her recent work includes Associate Light Designer for Broadway Under the Stars with Transcendence Theatre Company at Jack London State Park. Alisha spends her summer and winter season Stage Managing Spreckel’s Youth & Arts Program. She is also a carpenter, electrician, and stagehand for Illusion Lighting, The Luther Burbank Center, Spreckels, Transcendence, and Sonoma Arts Live. Underneath the Lintel marks her third project at Cinnabar.

ROSS TIFFANY BROWN (Stage Manager) has been working on all facets of technical theater in Sonoma County for the past decade. He received his Bachelors Degree from Sonoma State University. You may have seen him Stage Managing, Set Building, Light Hanging, Sound Crunching, Wall Painting, Note Taking, and Button Pushing for productions at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park, The Green Music Center and Sonoma State University’s Department of Performing Arts, Main Stage West in Sebastopol, and various other theaters in Sonoma County.



Cinnabar’s ‘Underneath the Lintel’ a fascinating mystery

“Underneath the Lintel” is a surprising one-actor adventure about a historical cold case. Nothing in Glen Berger’s play feels like a typical solo performance. John Shillington’s Librarian (that’s how he’s identified) fairly vibrates with energetic curiosity, and his performance resonates all throughout the theater. His character frequently interacts with the audience, and begs for all cell phones to be turned off, as sudden noises affect his nerves.
Though structured as a lecture – The Librarian explain he’s rented the theater for one night, advertising the talk with posters he’s distributed all over town – the story he wants to share is far from boring. It begins with a mystery, triggered when a tattered book appeared in his library’s night deposit box, 113 years overdue. Ire at such blatant disrespect initiates the Librarian’s single-minded quest to find the culprit. He searches for clues, and uncovers just enough evidence to tease his imagination. Unable to ignore the itch to uncover the truth, The Librarian becomes reluctantly drawn into a globetrotting investigation.
Director John Craven brings out a strong, genuine performance by Shillington as the nervous academic, who can complain about everyday problems (like lunches stolen from the employee refrigerator) in the same breath as wondering about the existence of God. The Librarian is a bit petty and fussy at times (and might have been left among his books for too long), but he radiates a yearning for meaning.
Following a remarkable series of clues (what he calls “lovely evidences”), the Librarian pins them to a clothesline one by one, rather like the author Jack London used to do when researching. Joseph Elwick’s set design (a dingy, untidy rented theater) and Elizabeth Craven’s props (wrinkled tram tickets and worn trousers) all add to the play’s feeling of authenticity.
“Underneath the Lintel” is a unique exploration of human beings’ headstrong insistence that we matter, even when faced with the transient cycle of life and death. The play questions the difference between passive acceptance and the active choice of belief. The script balances challenging philosophical questions with light-hearted humor. The Librarian jokes that his first experience attending the musical “Les Misérables” lived up to its name. He frequently rails against his arch nemesis, reference librarian Brody, whose worst offence appears to be a propensity to hand out chocolate as a consolation prize when someone has not gotten his or her way.
Above all else, “Underneath the Lintel” is a fascinating detective story that left this reviewer wondering if miracles really are possible. As the teller of that story, Shillington is phenomenal and his performance should not be missed.
–Alexa Chipman

John Shillington as The Librarian in “Underneath the Lintel”

Photos by Victoria Vonthal