Penelope Skinner talks with The San Francisco Chronicle
Magic’s 2015/2016 Season
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About Magic Theatre
Now celebrating its 48th year of continuous operation, Magic Theatre is dedicated to the cultivation of bold new plays, playwrights, and audiences – and to producing explosive, entertaining, and ideologically robust stories that ask substantive questions about our place in humanity. Magic provides a nurturing yet rigorous artistic home where innovative writers can create a body of work. We believe that developing an evolved artistic vocabulary with the playwright at our side, over a long period of time, greatly improves a playwright’s chances to thrive.
From its earliest years Magic Theatre has contributed to the richness and relevance of the national theatrical canon. Magic’s impact on the field has resonated throughout the United States beginning in the 1970’s with Sam Shepard’s early Pulitzer and Obie-award winning plays to Luis Alfaro’s world premiere of Oedipus el Rey in 2010, Taylor Mac’s groundbreaking five hour epic The Lily’s Revenge in 2011, and Octavio Solis’s Se Llama Cristina in 2013. Under Loretta Greco’s direction, Magic is reviving and increasing playwright residencies and long-term artistic developmental efforts as it hones its focus on new play creation in concert with the playwright.
22 of the 25 new plays produced at Magic over the last five years have enjoyed extended life beyond its stage throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Three of Magic’s plays will be seen in L.A. and New York in the first part of 2014: Se Llama Cristina at Pasadena’s Boston Court, Annapurna produced by Off-Broadway’s New Group, and Arlington, which recently concluded its world premiere production run at Magic, Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre. The international reach of Magic’s new plays spans the globe, with productions of Any Given Day in Paris and American Hwangap (translated into Korean) in Seoul.
Five homegrown world premieres recently completed runs at theatres throughout the country and Canada: Se Llama Cristina by Octavio Solis at Kitchen Dog in Dallas; Bruja by Luis Alfaro at Borderlands Theater in Tucson; Jesus in India by Lloyd Suh off-Broadway at Ma-Yi Theater Company; Annapurna by Sharr White at Los Angeles’s Odyssey Theatre; and An Accident by Lydia Stryk at Northern Lights Theatre in Edmonton. Magic opened the 2012-2013 season with a second production of Sharr White’s The Other Place, giving the playwright the much-needed opportunity to refine the script before its 2013 Broadway production. Oedipus el Rey just concluded its ninth professional production at Dallas Theater Center.
Magic Theatre productions took three of the coveted spots in the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2012 Top Ten list: Any Given Day by Linda McLean, Bruja by Luis Alfaro, and The Other Place by Sharr White. The Happy Ones by Julie Marie Myatt made the 2013 list.
Magic Theatre has supported hundreds of artists since the indefatigable John Lion founded it in 1967. Michael McClure served as the first playwright in residence beginning in 1969 with his early plays. Sam Shepard cut his playwright’s teeth at Magic, starting in 1975. His seminal plays were written and premiered during his decade-long residency, including Buried Child (Pulitzer Prize, 1979), True West (both directed by Robert Woodruff), and Fool for Love. Martin Esslin, internationally renowned scholar and critic, joined the company as the first resident dramaturg in American theater in 1977, a position now integral to American new playhouses.
Soon 3, Athol Fugard, Mark O’Rowe, Nilo Cruz, Octavio Solis, Claire Chafee, Jon Robin Baitz, Paula Vogel, Anne Bogart, Stephen Belber, Basil Twist, and Rebecca Gilman are just a notable few of the formidable writers who have been a part of Magic’s history. They have been joined in recent years by many of today’s exciting playwrights, such as Taylor Mac, Linda McLean, Teresa Rebeck, Lloyd Suh, Julie Marie Myatt, Sharr White, Christina Anderson, and Luis Alfaro. Magic plays have received numerous awards, including Pulitzer Prizes and ten Obie Awards. Other honors include the Kennedy Center Award, PEN-West Awards for Drama, Bay Area Critics’ Circle Awards, Los Angeles Drama-Logue Awards, and the NAACP Image Award. Oedipus el Rey was awarded the Will Glickman Playwrighting Award for 2010 and Sharr White’s Annapurna was a finalist for the 2012 Steinberg/ACTA New Play Award.