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  • Goodbyes and Hellos (i.e. Apprentices and Interns are the best)

    It is a happy/sad week as we say goodbye to our Season Literary Apprentice Leigh Rondon-Davis who is finishing out her apprenticeship tomorrow. Thank you Leigh for all you’ve done for Magic!

    Outgoing apprentice Leigh Rondon-Davis shows incoming summer interns (left to right) Clementine Quittner, Lukas Sarnow and Sarah Stoker.

    Outgoing apprentice Leigh Rondon-Davis shows incoming summer interns (left to right) Clementine Quittner, Lukas Sarnow and Sarah Stoker.

    We are also welcoming three brand new summer interns this week as they spend their summer break from college working at Magic.

    Welcome to Sarah Stoker from UC Berkeley, Clementine Quittner from Brown and Lukas Sarnow from Vassar! We are so happy to have you.

    Leigh Rondon-Davis, Lukas Sarnow, Clementine Quittner and Sarah Stoker

    Leigh Rondon-Davis, Lukas Sarnow, Clementine Quittner and Sarah Stoker

    And a picture on our iconic stairwell: Leigh Rondon-Davis, Sarah Stoker, Clementine Quittner and Lukas Sarnow

    And a picture on our iconic stairwell: Leigh Rondon-Davis, Sarah Stoker, Clementine Quittner and Lukas Sarnow

    Magic’s 2016-2017 Season General Auditions

    Our Generals are just around the corner. We only have a few slots left but we’d love to see you!

    AEA: Monday, May 23, 2016, 10am-1pm, 2-5pm

    Non-AEA: Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 10am-1pm, 2-5pm

    Email auditions@magictheatre.org for an appointment.

    Seeking AEA and non-AEA actors for Magic Theatre’s 2016-2017 season: Nogales by Richard Montoya in collaboration with Campo Santo, directed by Sean San Jose; 2016 Virgin Play Festival; Fool for Love by Sam Shepard, directed by Loretta Greco; Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel, directed by Jonathan Moscone; Grandeur by Han Ong, directed by Loretta Greco.

    Actors of all ethnicities and types encouraged to apply. Strong preference for Bay Area actors.

    Please prepare three minutes of material: either 1 monologue or 2 contrasting contemporary monologues, and bring a copy of current headshot and resume, stapled together.

    Meet our runboyrun team: Omoze Idehenre

    Welcome Omoze Idehenre for our mini-interview. She plays Abasiama in runboyrun. 

    Abasiama 2 runboyrun

    What excited you the most about runboyrun? What drew you to participate?

    I’ve known Mfoniso for a while now. We both graduated from ACT 09 and 10. When I saw a reading of her work I was delighted to finally hear a story like runboyrun being told in a space that tends to focus a lot on Western Theater and playwrights. It was a potent relieve. At the same time it was horrifying to watch because the story and characters are very familiar and specific. The story had a bit of a polarizing affect on me and that immediately snatched me.

    If you could play any role in any production, what would you choose?

    Anita. West Side Story. Why? The choreography and that legendary purple dress. The choreography is  legendary but that purple dress is everything.

    There are lots of mentions of food in both of these plays. What’s your favorite Nigerian dish?

    Okra stew! Red Sauce and goat meat and rice! Plantains and greens! Fufu (made with plantain flour, though)!

    Meet our Sojourners and runboyrun team: Katherine Turner

    Our series of brief interviews with Dogeaters actors was such a hit, we are trying it again!

    First up is Katherine Turner who is doing double duty in this, our Ufot Play Cycle Rep. Katherine plays the young Abasiama in Sojourners and Sister in runboyrun.

    Abasiama in Sojourners

    Abasiama in Sojourners

    What excited you the most about the project? What drew you to participate?

    I remember back in March of 2015 when I was asked to work on a one of Magic’s Virgin Play readings of runboyrun. I remember noting the culturally specific and psychologically challenging elements of Mfoniso’s writing. And the themes that she expressed in her work and how they intercect in the play–spirituality, trauma, the various manifestations of love, identity, religion, etc.–intrigued me and created a world full of endless layers. Most of all, I loved the thought of bringing black characters to life onstage who functioned as much in the intellectual as in the emotional (if not more so) and what a new and exciting challenge that would be for me personally. I really wanted to be a part of telling that story.

    Have you ever had Nigerian food? If so, what’s your favorite dish?

    I tried Nigerian food for the first time this year; cassava leaf stew and fufu. It was delish!

    Sister in runboyrun

    Sister in runboyrun

    What’s your favorite line from either of the plays?

    The creation story is my favorite, but in summation:

    “we are all those pieces of world brother
    fighting to fuse back together.”


    “real god is simply a spirit that broke itself apart
    to learn and relearn over and over and over how to adore.
    and so
    that means
    somewhere in this mess of a place…our pieces fit.
    we fit
    you fit
    as you are”

    runboyrun rehearsals are up and running

    First day of rehearsals comes round Magic once again. This time there is a little déjà vu, since we just had one last week. runboyrun, our second play (the third in the Ufot cycle) from Mfoniso Udofia, our playwright in residence extraordinaire, began rehearsals yesterday.

    Left to right: Adrian Roberts (Nsikan Disciple Ufot), Rotimi Agbabiaka (Boy), Leigh Rondon-Davis (Assistant Director), Sean San Jose (Director), Mfoniso Udofia (Playwright), Katherine Turner (Sister), Rafael Jordan (Ben.Gun.), and Omoze Idehenre (Abasiama).

    Left to right: Adrian Roberts (Nsikan Disciple Ufot), Rotimi Agbabiaka (Boy), Leigh Rondon-Davis (Assistant Director), Sean San Jose (Director), Mfoniso Udofia (Playwright), Katherine Turner (Sister), Rafael Jordan (Ben.Gun.), and Omoze Idehenre (Abasiama).

    Cast, creative team and visitors applaud after the first read of runboyrun.

    Cast, creative team, staff  and visitors applaud after the first read of runboyrun.

    First day of Sojourners by Mfoniso Udofia

    It feels like Dogeaters just ended, but on we go to our next show(s). Mfoniso Udofia arrived last week and rehearsals for Sojourners began yesterday!

    Ryan Purcell and Mfoniso Udofia share thoughts about Sojourners with the cast, creative team, Magic staff, producers, supporters and Laney students.

    Ryan Purcell and Mfoniso Udofia share thoughts about Sojourners with the cast, creative team, Magic staff, producers, supporters and Laney students.

    Sojourners is the first of our two productions, (the other, runboyrun, starts rehearsal next week!)  that will run in rep, from Mfoniso’s nine-play cycle. Sojourners is the origin of the cycle that tracks the Nigerian-American Ufot family in the U.S.

    Ryan Purcell, who is directing Sojourners, reflected on the way the play captures a fearlessness and loneliness of leaving home and trying to build a home as an experience that all of us can relate to. All of us have left home at some point, or should have, and it is a scary and funny experience.

    Mfoniso mentioned the fascinating way that Sojourners, in its recent New York premiere, offered a distinct experience for Western versus Nigerian audiences. Those audiences laughed at very different moments and rooted for different characters.

    Interview with Lily Sorenson, Dogeaters Assistant Director (and Apprentice Extraordinaire!)

    Lily Sorenson was our Artistic Direction Apprentice and Assistant Director for Dogeaters. She talks to us about her life in theater and experience working on Dogeaters.

    lily on the beach

    How did you get into theatre/know it was what you wanted to do?

    There are probably a million people with stories like this, but I was cast as the lead troll in my 1st grade production of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” and I was hooked. I have absolutely adored working in theatre, both on and off stage, since before I can remember. I worked on community children’s theatre throughout my youth, but when I got to high school I began to widen my interests. I started designing and building sets and writing short plays while keeping up with my acting. In college, my interests only became more diverse. I was sound designing plays and films, auditioning for plays and musicals, and performing with dance groups. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I got to direct my first play, but directing became a passion that consumed me entirely, prompting me to start producing my own works on and off campus.

    What was it like working on Dogeaters?

    Dogeaters is a very special play with a very special cast. It was an absolute delight to work on. Getting to shadow the tremendously talented Loretta has, of course, taught me so much about direction. But beyond that, the almost entirely Pinoy cast feels like a family. They were so high-energy and positive in every rehearsal. Everyone was incredibly helpful and encouraging in understanding the culture and language of the show — Pilipino culture wasn’t one I had had much exposure to prior to the production. Since the show has opened, I have sincerely missed each and every person in the cast on the evenings I’m not around to see them – something you can’t say about every cast you work with.

    Do you have a favorite character? If you could play a character in Dogeaters who would you play?

    I love all the unique characters our ensemble has created for Dogeaters, but I have always been particularly fond of Perlita and Chiquiting. With their sassy and competitive banter, they are wonderful comic relief in the sometimes very dark world of Manila, 1982. But they also have lovely tender moments where we see how much they love each other, Joey, and Rio. They were unexpected to me in a world like this, but have proved to be some of the most important players in the story that is told. If I got to play a character, I would love to play either Lolita Luna or Barbara Villanueva. This is probably in large part because I love the way our beautious actresses have realized them. I’m very into the over the top and performative nature of the characters. Women in the spotlight, but each have moments of vulnerability that show us the person behind the personalities they’re force to perform. 

    What has been your most memorable show/performance in your career?

    Though Dogeaters is not a show I will soon forget, some of the most memorable shows were during my undergrad education at UC Santa Cruz. The ones that stick out in my mind the most couldn’t be more different; Rent by Jonathan Larson and The Aliens by Annie Baker.

    I had the role of as Maureen in the 40+ cast main stage production of Rent directed by Danny Scheie at UCSC and it was one of the most hectic and exciting productions I have ever been in. I was allowed to self direct my own performance art piece for the song “Over The Moon” which was an absolute delight. Getting to work with a cast of so many friends and on a show so near and dear to my heart from an early age was such a good time.

    I also directed and produced The Aliens by Annie Baker in my own backyard with a cast of three phenomenal male actors. We all gave our weekends to work on the show because we were so excited about it. I’d never before been so in touch with a text or done such valuable work with actors. It was a highlight to my directing career so far.

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Jomar Tagatac

    Last, but certainly not least in our series of cast interviews, we have Jomar Tagatac who plays the glamorous Perlita alongside the ruthless General Ledesma.

    Jomar (center) with Associate Costume Designer Karina Chavarin and Costume Designer Brandin Barón at the first day of Dogeaters rehearsals

    Jomar (center) with Associate Costume Designer Karina Chavarin and Costume Designer Brandin Barón at the first day of Dogeaters rehearsals

    If you could play another character in Dogeaters who would you choose? Why?

    If I could play a different character, I’d want to play Perlita playing Imelda Marcos. I think it would be a fun challenge to have Perlita’s point of view playing an iconic character like that. Perlita would probably play up the glamorousness of Imelda while at the same time revealing Imelda’s ridiculousness, but all in good fun and in a sneaky way of course. Either that, or Pucha. Sometimes it can be fun to gossip and misbehave at a restaurant.

    What is your favorite thing about this production?

    I love the sense of family. I’ve been lucky enough to feel a sense of family in all the productions I’ve been in, but this is one big family…typical Filipino style. I also love hearing Loretta bust out some tagalog phrases. Hot night tonight, di ba?

    Perlita strikes a thoughtful pose.

    Perlita strikes a thoughtful pose.

    What has it been like working with Jessica Hagedorn?

    It’s been a blast to work with her. When I saw her on the first day of rehearsal, she had her arms open to hug me. She kissed me on the cheek and said, “I’m back and I’ve come to torture you.” Torture me all you want Jessica. I like dat! She is so kind and gracious and insistent, just like my own mother. I call her auntie sometimes because she feels like that, familiar. I miss her and hope she comes back in town for the closing show.  Jessica did you hear me? Come back!!!

    What was the rehearsal process like for you?

    The rehearsal process was tricky. The first part was to really understand the world of play and the state of the country at that time. Thankfully Lily and Sonia, our two dramaturgs had collected great information for us to reference. After that, the scene work begins. Loretta is such a great leader in guiding us to find the answers to what the scene is about and why these characters have come to this point where the scene has to happen. And the last part was to fully be engrossed in the characters we play. A lot of us played multiple characters. It was important to make sure Perlita and Ledesma were two separate people, making sure that one character didn’t bleed into the other. They are both on opposite sides of the spectrum anyway. I just had a thought of Ledesma doing a drag show. Hmmmmm.

    General Ledesma on the golf course.

    General Ledesma on the golf course.

    Can you tell us a little about your character? What do you think is his/her  best quality? Worst?

    I think Perlita’s worst quality is that she feels this need to control everything. Her best quality is that she is who she is without any apology. And she gives that same respect to everyone around her. Ledesma’s worst quality is that everything is black and white. There is no gray area to him. Ledesma’s best quality is, I think it’s important to know that Ledesma has a heart. He isn’t made of stone and isn’t a robot. That’s why I love that Prayer scene. He is asking for forgiveness for his actions.

    What  is your favorite line in Dogeaters?

    My favorite line is said by Daisy. ” Do you love this country?” I love the placement of the line in where it’s said in the story. I love the way the actor says it, with such sincerity and simplicity. I love that she’s really asking the question. I love that there’s a sense of hope.

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Meet Rinabeth Apostol!

    Rinabeth Apostol, who plays expat Rio Gonzaga,  joined us for our penultimate Dogeaters cast interview. She talks about quiet audiences, Filipino banter and unforgettable performances.

    Rinabeth and her mom Sorcy Apostol (who will be joining us for our panel discussion on Sunday 2/21) on our first day of rehearsal.

    Rinabeth with her mom Sorcy Apostol (an activist and educator) on our first day of rehearsal for Dogeaters.

    What is your favorite thing about this production?

    The camaraderie of the cast is a great thing, but my favorite, are the amazing crew and design team.  Our tech process was so specific and incredibly detailed. The designers and crew had the most difficult job of creating the world around us for us to live in – and those elements add so much depth in to the storytelling!  I still find myself shocked by some of the design elements when I’m looking around onstage, thinking “Man!  That looks so good!”

    Now that you’ve had a weekend of performances under our belt, have there been any discoveries/surprises you’ve found in performing this show?

    A quiet audience doesn’t necessarily mean a “bad” one.  It can get a slightly nerve wracking when certain laughs or reactions aren’t where you’re accustomed to hearing them – but I had to remind myself I’ve been immersed in this world so I’m privy to everything that’s going on.  This show is such a kaleidoscope of stories and characters that I can imagine; it can get overwhelming to keep up with everything going on if you aren’t familiar with the world.  It’s almost as though they stay quiet as not to miss a thing!  And the payoff, of course, is the quiet audiences usually give off the loudest applause.

    Rio talks to her Lola's ghost.

    Rio talks to her Lola’s ghost.

    What is your favorite line in Dogeaters (it doesn’t have to be yours)?

    “Darling, Communists are always cute.” (Actually, that entire exchange between Perlita & Chiquiting in Act I, Scene 10 – the lovingly messed up banter done in true Filipino fashion!)

    From the  scene Rinabeth references: Chiquiting and Perlita sharing tsismis.

    From the scene Rinabeth references above: Chiquiting and Perlita sharing tsismis.


    What is the favorite role you’ve ever played?

    Professional auditioner, all day, everyday!  Any and every “role” is just a huge bonus!

    Is there one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget? What was it?

    There are two performances that have moved me like nothing else:

    King Lear at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where there was, what seemed like a torrential downpour in the amphitheater.  The audience popped open umbrellas and covered their heads with ponchos and programs.  Onstage, the actors continued with the show.  Their gorgeous velvet costumes, I’m sure were growing heavier every second it got soaked!

    The other was the closing night of Aida on Broadway w/ Deborah Cox in the title role.  The passion of the entire cast and Miss Cox had my sister and I in tears – it was as though they were singing for their lives!

    In both cases, the actors onstage were giving such dynamic performances under whatever circumstances –and I knew I wanted to be able to do that – to give whatever I could as a performer to an audience and make people feel exactly what I was feeling (in the audience) in those moments.  I was so incredibly moved by the performances and sensed just how much the audience was in to it too.  It’s a rare thing, when an audience and the performers are on the same page and just want to be together to create an unforgettable evening.  Gaaah!  My face is starting to leak thinking about it, so let’s end this here!

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Introducing Mike Sagun

    Mike Sagun joins us to discuss Dogeaters, acting and his aunties’ tsismis. Mike plays revolutionary Santos Tirador, Lieutenant Pepe Carreon and action star Tito Alvarez.


    If you could play another character in Dogeaters who would you choose? Why?

    I’d love to play the fierce Perlita Alacran. She reminds of my aunties that feed and live off tsismis at family parties–always gossiping and laughing around a game of mahjong or while eating kamayan style around a table filled with food like: lechon. I can see them pssst’ing at each other and pointing with their lips at a poor unsuspecting woman with a knock off Louis bag. I also love wearing high heels. And Perlita loves her heels.

    What are you most looking forward to about this production?

    I’m really looking forward to hearing the audience’s response to this production. I think it’s going to make people laugh, cry, and uncomfortable. The story is so real and Loretta does a brilliant job capturing life and putting it on stage. I feel like we are a cast that really cares about the work–it helps that most of us are Filipinos/APIs and the story resonates deep in our bones. We have family members and friends that lived through the Marcos regime and have first hand experience with what it was like to be in the Philippines during that time.

    And I think Dogeaters paints a vivid picture of the effects and ramifications of what imperialism and colonialism can do to a country–good and bad–and everyone can relate to imperialism and colonialism in some form.

    What drew you to participate in this production of Dogeaters?

    A few friends of mine invited me to watch a reading of it in early 2015. I remember them describing it as, “A show about the Philippines with a bunch of Filipinos.” This piqued my interest. I fell in love with the script after watching the reading and I knew that I had to audition. When will I ever be able to use my Pilipino accent in a show?! I mean, it’s only on my theatre resume under ‘special skills’.

    How did you get into acting? What was your first gig?

    Growing up, I loved performing and acting in front of family members. I thrived under the spotlight. And in the seventh grade I signed up for an elective called speech and drama. During that time in my life I was going through a lot of family issues and I found that putting on a costume or acting like a different character was very healing for me. That year Mr. Ebersole cast me as the lead in his original play called Tommy in TV Land. From then on I was hooked. I ended up doing theater in high school. And after high school I landed a job with Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre. Theatre has always been an outlet for me and it will always be.

    Why do you think it is important that we produce this play today? How do you think it will resonate with a contemporary audience? 

    We’re in a really interesting time in our country. Our politics are being divided further than we’ve ever seen. The wealth disparity is significant. Innocent people are being murdered on the streets by the very hands that are supposed to protect us. I think we are people that love this country and want change. And I think these are themes that run parallel to Dogeaters. And I hope people see the similarities and feel the conflict we might have as Americans just like some of the Pilipinos in the show