Check out our Virgin Play Series

A cool thing is happening at Magic.

It’s called the Virgin Play Series and you should know about it. One because it’s interesting, and two because there are still two readings you can come to!

Virgin is Magic’s opportunity to invest in, develop and share the work of playwrights we’re excited about. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s furious.

Basically we get a playwright, a director and some actors around a table with some clementines and coffee, and we hear a play out loud, have some scintillating conversation, and sometimes we put it on its feet for a small audience. Then there’s wine and more talking, and more talking and more wine.

This year, we’ve been lucky enough to host playwrights Jessica Hagedorn, Justin Kurizkes, A-lan Holt, and Lachlan Philpott, and are looking forward to welcoming Mfoniso Udofia later this week. They’ve taken us to Marcos’ Philippines, to an exclusive college sex party, to south-central LA, to an Austrailian high school, and it’s all been wild.

If you’re intrigued, you’d do a great job as an audience member! You should come!  TONIGHT, we have Fred’s Diner by Penelope Skinner—Penelope’s play takes place in an American Diner in the UK—its funny and dark and full of delicious characters.

Next MONDAY NIGHT  3/9, we have Mfoniso Udofia’s runboyrun, the third piece in her epic Ufot family cycle. You may remember seeing her play Sojourners, another piece of the cycle, at last season’s Virgin.

Don’t miss out—these writers are doing some really creative, crazy things. Both readings are at 7PM at Magic. Did I mention they’re FREE?! Email Ryan at to reserve tickets. See you there!

LIE OF THE MIND goes to Laney College!

Hey Everyone!

Yes, it’s that time again!  Magic Theatre is bringing A Lie of the Mind to Oakland for our FREE performance at Laney College THIS Saturday 2/21!  Yes, that’s right. Saturday, February, 21st.

Be there, or be square.

However, if you are a square and you can’t be there… you should come check out our extension!  What? An extension?! Yes, that’s right.  A Lie of the Mind is extending!  Come see A Lie of the Mind, playing until March 1st!  Buy tickets here:

Still not convinced?

Here’s some feedback from Laney College Students who saw the show on opening night as part of our partnership that gives Laney students hands-on access to Magic’s season at every step of the process:

“Sam Shepard’s plays always move me in a profound way, and Loretta’s choice to feature a family of color made the play even more relatable for me. I also appreciated repetition of lines and images because it helped further the message that these two families were the same, no matter where they were from and what they looked like.”

“The acting in A Lie of the Mind was incredible! There were so many times when I forgot that I was watching a play.”

“I thought the music was fantastic… [it] gave me chills.”

So, come check out A Lie of the Mind at Laney College this Saturday or at Magic Theatre until March 1st!  You don’t want to miss it.

Sam on Sam

Shepard 1_ FlavinPhoto Credit: Steve Flavin

This week, hear from the director of this year’s Sheparding America project, Sam Fiorillo.  Sam was our Artistic Direction Apprentice last year and we were lucky to have him back for a week at the helm of Where You First Found Me: Plays and Letters which took place this past Monday.

Sam takes us inside some of his favorite moments during his week back in San Francisco:

1:30 AM, December 8th – I’m walking up and down Polk Street, very quietly celebrating with a bag of Bob’s Donuts.  I should be sleeping. I should be getting to sleep. I have a flight back to Minneapolis at 6:00 AM but I’m not ready to leave this city or allow the night its end.

 10:00 PM, December 8th  – Rod Gnapp lets out the last and faintest ‘you’ and with the final word of the night, the lights go out, the audience greets the performers and band, and I’m a picture of unadorned relief with a gin and lime thing in hand.  Three moments later I am regretfully swept onstage for applause. I am doing my sheepish thing because I very honestly don’t know what else to do. Another 7 moments later, a woman who I may have offended earlier with an overly alcoholic Savage Lover (read fancy cocktail) shouts to me “You were the DIRECTOR? I thought you were the BARTENDER!” No wonder I’m such a terrible bartender, right? But it is hugs, light, and warmth all around now.  Another 15 or so moments later I find Loretta Greco. Thank you so very much from the bottom of me and I’ll see you again sometime hopefully soon.

 7:30 PM, December 8th – I give last words to the band and to Jomar Tagatac before he performsTongues. I don’t have time to put on the suit I’d brought from Minneapolis for this moment. No, the audience is already here and I’m ready to start mixing drinks at the bar. I tell myself what I’ve been repeating for the week of rehearsals, this night is going to be something. I don’t know what, but it will be something.

 5:00 PM, December 1st – Just off the plane from Minneapolis, this is the first moment I have seen Magic Theatre since the end of my apprenticeship there.  Everything looks the same. Everything smells the same.  And I feel the same—I am following my same patterns already. But there are also new people to meet and old people to catch up with over King of Thai. And it is different, of course, because now I am here as a visitor. Now I am here to direct this project Loretta and I have been cooking up since I left.

 7:00 AM July 29th  – I am sitting at the Ferry Building waiting for my train that will take me to Minnesota for my next chapter. Last night was my final moment as an apprentice at Magic Theatre—a late night playing board games with Sara, Ellen, Mike, and others. I wonder if I’ll be back. Loretta and I have been talking about a night of Sam Shepard and Joe Chaikin’s voice plays, live music, fancy cocktails, and some of Magic’s favorite actors. She seems so sure it will happen.

December 8th

Historically, December 8th has not been a good day.  In fact, December 8th has tended toward tragic.  It’s really a bummer day.  I looked at the December 8th Wikipedia page and all I found were plane crashes and terrorist attacks and world war two decisions, and the birthday of Nicki Minaj.

Let me tell you, though: December 8th is going to be great this year.  We’re having a Sam Shepard party!   Maybe I’ll even add our FUN event to Wikipedia?  Because can’t you just do that?  Because it’s a site for the people by the people?  Because we think December 8th is too somber and it doesn’t have to be!


THIS DECEMBER 8th Magic is celebrating how much Sam Shepard rocks.  At 7PM our theatre doors will open into a jazz club with live music, dancing, and two cash bars serving drinks from our sponsors (we have sponsors!): Blue Angel Vodka and Distillery No. 9.   There will be performances by Magic darlings Tristan Cunningham, Rod Gnapp, Marissa Keltie, Sean San Jose, Mia Tagano and Jomar Tagatac. There will be dashing, mysterious strangers and subscribers and YOU.  All gathered together in a room of woven rugs and Christmas lights and boozy drinks to watch a collection of Sam Shepard’s short plays from a collaboration with American theatre legend Joseph Chaikin.  This collaboration ruled.   Sam and Joe wrote letters back and forth for YEARS.  They said stuff like this:

Sometimes I feel I’m a long way from understanding the smallest thing.  Other times I feel I understand everything.  Most of the time I forget it’s even a question.  Your book helped remind me.

– Sam to Joe

They were artistic soul-mates and these plays: Savage/Love, Tongues and War in Heaven are what happened when they finally worked together at Magic in the late 1970s.

Another thing we’re excited about: Magic Directing Apprentice Alum, Sam FIORILLO is back to direct this event.  One day we will know him as THE Sam Fiorillo.  One Sam is great, but two Sams are better.  And 2 Sams put on the best shows.   Come see for yourself, maybe?

See, the event is pretty sold out.  BUT if you self-identify as a young artist or professional, we are here for you.  20 dollar NextGen tickets!  If you self-define or aspire to define as a Patron Of The Arts, you can buy a whole table.  Or a ringside seat.  These are more flashy and expensive, but you’re a Patron Of the Arts and that’s what you do. VIP Plus, ViP and VIP Ringside options are outlined here.


It’s Wednesday, and Wednesday means the beginning of our final performance week for And I And Silence.  You heard it right.  The final week!  

Procrastinators:  All you sweet, back-footed, procrastinators; you adventuresome, too busy procrastinators; you anxious and neurotic, but lovely procrastinators; the last moments, the win by-a-noses, the hair’s breadths, the whiskers, the sweaty down-to-the-wires, the “I’m Living Life to the Fullest”s, the “Don’t Tie Me Down”s , and the “If You Try And Make Friday Plans on a Monday, You Are No Friend of Mine”s—this week it’s all about you.

We know your type.  We know the struggles you face every day: people think you’re lazy and flighty, but we know that’s just not true.  You live life to the fullest.  You don’t like commitment, not because you’re scared, but because commitment means a loss of possibility.  You have SO many ideas and things to do and people to see— and people are always asking you to pick just one: to make a plan.  And you just hate that.  Plans make you sweaty, and you hate being sweaty.

Well, it’s Wednesday.  For the entire run of And I And Silence, you have avoided planning.  You stuck to your guns.  When your friend stuck a laptop in front of your face and said BUY TICKETS TO THIS AMAZING PLAY, you pulled up a new tab and read this buzzfeed article.  You read our glowing review, and it inspired you not to see the play, but to go hiking, or diving, or skiing, or to get a manicure, because you KNEW that this Wednesday would come.  And come it has.  We’re down to the wire this Wednesday.  You’re in your element, and you know what to do.

Type A’s: we haven’t forgotten our sweeties.  Here is some content to share with your procrastinator friends—the ones you’ve told a hundred-and-one times to get to The Magic and see And I And Silence.  We appreciate you.  You do wonderful things and your word of mouth is commendable.  But some of our procrastinators are needy, and sometimes with them, its like that thing where your Mom has been telling you for years that you are neurotic, and you ignore her, and then you’re therapist says “You’re neurotic,” and you’re like THANK YOU, OF COURSE, WHY HAS NO ONE EVER SAID THAT TO ME BEFORE, YOU GENIUS!  In this situation, Type A’s, you’re Mom.  So we’re giving you some special second opinions for your sweet (and sometimes ungrateful) friends:

Tristan Cunningham, who plays Jamie wants YOU to see the show because:

“Sometimes you do a play that changes you, and this is a play that has changed me for sure. I am blown away night after night from the power of Naomi’s words. How they land on me, the other actors, and the audience. I truly believe Loretta, the design team, crew, staff and this company of actors has created something beautiful and real, and I hope everyone comes to see the story of these two woman.”

Siobhan Doherty, who plays Young Dee wants YOU to see the show because:

“There continues to be so much that resonates for me in this play.  Last week, when we were at Laney, I got nervous before a scene of mine because I knew my best friend was in the house, and I wanted the scene to go perfectly.  Then I chided myself because I was more focused on my friend’s perception, than my intentions as Dee.  All of a sudden, I heard the line “If you put rags in your mind, you’ve got nothing.”  Harsh self-judement can easily become “rags in your mind” up onstage.  After a few moments of meditating on that line, I was then able to go onstage knowing and pursuing my true purpose.  This play has really taught me the power of putting “flitter” in my mind instead of “rags”.  Of course, we all have stray thoughts, but if we can keep our priorities straight, and our hearts open, we can achieve great things.  Dee has been an incredible source of inspiration for me.  She dares to dream in a world where everything is completely stacked against her.  She manages to create her own reality.  I admire her greatly for that, and I will miss her dearly.”


If that is not enough, your procrastinator friends have no soul.  But we don’t judge.  Maybe they’re just visual learners?

To the left are Brandin Baron’s beautiful costume designs for Jamie and Dee!  Rumor has it that Brandin can speak six languages…

It’s Wednesday.  We have a show tonight (sold out– sorry procrastinators!), a show tomorrow night, one the night after that, the night after that, and the day after that is closing.   We’re down to the wire, and it’s Wednesday; I think you know what to do.

A Very Opening Night


IMG_4008This past Tuesday we opened And I And Silence to a packed house full of friends, family, patrons, board-members, champagne, fancy cookies, and pitchers of Corky Lavallee’s much anticipated cocktail, aptly named, Take No Prisoners.  And I And Silence is the first show I have assistant directed professionally, and from first rehearsal to opening night,it was a whirlwind amazing experience. Earlier in the day, the team was sitting together on stage for our final rehearsal and Jessi Campbell (Dee) leaned over to me and said, “Wow—I can’t believe it’s finally here.  Feels like we started yesterday.”   It really did feel just like yesterday– huddled around a long table with the actors giving voice to a play the Magic staff had been reading and analyzing for months.  It was in that moment—just three weeks ago– when I knew I was going to be a part of something really special.

Fast-forward to a few days later, and the cast and crew, led by our Dramaturg, Sonia Fernandez, was fully immersed in her research, which was rapidly becoming the jumping point for the rich and specific world of And I And Silence.  We listened to music from the 1950s, explored newspaper articles, examined print/media from the era, and ok… maybe we watched a few I Love Lucy’s.


Later, when we had the play on its feet, we began delving into Naomi Wallace’s language as our landscape and platform for discovery.  We explored rhythm, tempo, games, and ritual, and I watched—mesmerized– as the language allowed the actors to soar.

So on opening night when the crowd let out and spilled into the lounge and lobby, I couldn’t help but grin with pride as I overheard conversations about our little world, which had just increased 100-fold with its first audience.  Hearing people discuss and delve into the elements that I had helped to discover in the rehearsal room was incredibly gratifying.

And I And Silence is such a special, powerful play.  It has made me laugh, cry, and grapple with some amazing questions.   So, come and see what it’s all about—I have a feeling you’ll be astounded.


— Ellie Sachs, Assistant Director

Is Sara Huddleston a Wizard? / A visit from Laney College

Last Tuesday, a group of students from Laney College  (check out their cool theatre group: ) made the trip out to Magic to see And I And Silence tech rehearsal in action. Magic’s five-year strong partnership with Laney College is headed by Dori Jacob, in conjunction with Michael Torres, the Chair of the Laney Theatre Department. The trip last Tuesday was very successful and exciting, mystical–even.


We started the visit with a talk from Production Wizard, Sara Huddleston. Two things about Sara re: wizardry.  Excuse the Harry Potter reference.  One, she’s a Gryffindor.  Duh.  Brave, heroic, fearless, Sara most certainly has a time turner.  That’s the second thing.  Sara Huddleston runs everything; she wears nearly every hat as our Director of Production and our absolutely killer resident sound designer!

Formidable Sara led the Laney group in a discussion about the technical side of theatre, engaging them in the specifics of lighting, sound, props and costumes in relation to And I And Silence.  We are hoping to integrate discussions and practical experience with Tech into our Laney program, which allows students hands-on access to every show in our season at every step of the process.  Laney students are invited to First Read and Opening; they analyze each script in a scene analysis class; and they talk with each visiting Magic playwright in their own classroom.  Finally, with every show, Sara Huddleston, who is apparently a wizard, leads the charge coordinating the movement of the Magic production to the stage at Laney for a free Oakland performance.  (Don’t miss this one—Saturday, November 15th at 2:30PM)!

After Sara’s talk and a walk-through of the backstage area and dressing rooms where the Laney students met the actors, it was back to the theatre to be flies on the wall in Loretta’s rehearsal room.  We watched Loretta and the actors on the beautifully spare stage, first sitting cross-legged, talking through some new beats and blocking and then watched the actors swiftly put the new decisions to action on stage. It will certainly be interesting for the Laney students to see how the scene changes from that day in rehearsal to Opening Night.

Speaking of…Opening Night! It’s TODAY!  Here:  You can BUY TICKETS!  See how convenient that was?  Read a blog, see some theatre— you’re so cultured this Tuesday!  Congrats to you and to And I And Silence and Laney and of course, Sara Huddleston.  This one goes out to you.

Visiting the San Francisco County Jail

“There are ghosts up there,” said our host, Angie Wilson, as we were waiting for the elevator.  Angie works with and oversees programming for Pod B in the San Francisco County Jail.  She is an extremely knowledgeable and generous resource.  When my three cast-mates, Loretta and I stepped out of the elevator into the “vertical” wing, which is currently empty, another employee greeted us and said the exact same thing.  Neither one of them said it to scare us, to be funny, or to get any kind of reaction.  In both cases, it was said in in a way that was simply matter of fact.  Apples are apples, and there are ghosts in the vertical wing.  Fact.

Angie had taken us to this particular vertical wing, because it much more closely resembles what our characters might have experienced in a 1950’s prison. Bars, concrete, dim light, chipped paint, and long straight lines leading off into the distance– not like the brighter, bar-less panopticon style the jail mostly uses now.  In those panopticon style cells, you feel as though you’re in a fish-bowl more than anything else, since it is essentially a big round room in which everyone can see everything. As we walked past the empty cell blocks in the vertical wing, our heels echoing, Angie pointed out the places where the people who were confined there had eaten, slept, pissed, showered, been nursed, talked on the phone, and also, where some of them were probably murdered.  Ghosts.

We walked past the “safety cells”.  Small, windowless rooms a person is sent to if they are being uncontrollably violent.  Angie said “Go, on.  Go inside.”  We did.  The tight, dark room was bare besides a small grate on the floor.  We were quiet.  “How long might someone stay in here?” one of us asked.  “Oh, a couple hours maybe.  Never overnight,” she replied.

In And I And Silence, my character, Dee, is often sent to an equivalent room called “the Hole.”  Solitary. The hole was, and in many US prisons sadly still is common practice– inmates can be sent there to solitary confinement for days.  Months.  Years.  I have thought a lot about what effect this might have had on Dee’s own psyche. In my research, I was sobered to find an account from Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, whose research concludes that 15 days in solitary confinement (which constitutes torture) is the limit after which irreversible harmful psychological effects can occur.”  These effects are especially strong for juveniles.

The thing is, I really don’t want to end my account of this visit, on that note.  Much like the aforementioned ghosts, it is also a fact that during our visit, Angie couldn’t wait to take us to the wing she currently oversees.  To say that she is invested in the women on her floor is an understatement.  Angie ensures there is robust programming for the women and also educational opportunities– we saw a group of women taking college midterms.  Angie seemed to have an incredible knack for seeing everyone there, inmate or staff, past or present, from a genuinely caring and nonjudgmental perspective. I appreciated Angie for her heartfelt and caring pragmatism.

Throughout rehearsals for this play, with Loretta’s invaluable assistance, I am continually fighting the maudlin, sentimental impulse.  My job is not to wallow in feelings or sentiment about the injustices of the prison system on stage, but to deal honestly with the facts at hand– to create new “facts” in spite of the given situation.  At one point in the script, Dee describes to Jamie a peaceful imagined future, buttoning the hopeful dream with: “That’s a fact.”  It is not a luxury.  For these characters, living under such extreme circumstances, that kind of hope needs to be a fact.

– Siobhan Marie Doherty, Young Dee

Ryan uses similes to talk NEXTGEN

What is a Magic Theatre NextGen Night?

Magic Theatre has our NextGen Mixer for our upcoming show, And I and Silence by Naomi Wallace on Friday, November 7th at 8PM.  For those of you that don’t know about it, here’s what NextGen is:

NEXT GEN NIGHT IS LIKE BIBIMBOP: It’s that thing you heard about at some point, and you were like, “I don’t know if I’d like that” and then finally you tried it and you were like that was awesome, how come I haven’t tried that before?” Unless you’re Korean, in which case you’re like, “I’ve always known about Bibimbop, what are you talking about?” at which point this metaphor breaks down. UNLESS you are Korean and have always been coming to NextGen night, in which case, you’re like “YES, NextGen night is like Bibimbop because I’ve loved them both since the beginning.”

And I And Silence NextGen

 NEXT GEN NIGHT IS LIKE BURNING MAN: Art, cool people, someone often ends up naked (usually our General Manager, Michael Farrell).

 NEXT GEN NIGHT IS LIKE BRUCE BOCHY: This is just a shameless attempt to tap into positive feelings about the San Francisco Giants.

 NEXT GEN NIGHT IS LIKE OKCUPID: Full of attractive people that are 87% your friend and only 6% your enemy.

 NEXT GEN NIGHT IS LIKE EARLY MARIAH CAREY: Undeniably amazing. If you don’t think early Mariah Carey was amazing, watch this:

If you still don’t think Mariah Carey is amazing, I don’t know if you should be at NextGen night, cause you and me might have to go Mano a Mano in the parking lot because I will defend early Mariah Carey by any means necessary.

Young People Have Fun At Next Gen!

Young People Have Fun At NextGen

NEXT GEN NIGHT IS AN AMAZING DEAL: Join artists, students, and young professionals for a great show and great value.  Open bar.  Hang out with the actors, plus the rest of Magic’s loveable gang.

Drinks (mixed by yours truly).



All for $25

So come to NextGen night at Magic Theatre.

It’s Friday, November 7th

.Click here:

And use Discount Code: nextgen25 at checkout. Limited seats available.

See you at the theatre.


From the Actors: 5 Chances Left to See BAD JEWS!


000100168I’ve always found the hardest part of working on a play that you truly love— a production that you are truly proud of—is letting go of it at the end.  From the first time I read BAD JEWS, I fell for the character of Daphna.   While she can be over-the-top, there is something about her intelligence, her conviction, her youth and vulnerability, her amazing sense of humor, the speed at which her mind works, her relationships to her family-how she teases them yet desperately cares about them, which made me fall for her-hard.  

Having the opportunity to play this role, exploring the way in which she thinks, acts and moves in this production, among these brilliant actors — Max Rosenak, Kenny Toll, and Riley Krull – guided by this amazing director, Ryan Guzzo Purcell, and helped along by all the other talented peeps who worked on this show and the generous, supportive audiences we’ve had, has been one of the favorite creative experiences of my life.  When we got extended for these two weeks, all I could feel was relieved.  Relieved that I didn’t have to give her up just yet—that I could take care of her and bring her to life a few more times.

This is our last week running BAD JEWS at the Magic Theatre.  We have 5 performances left, and I intend to make the most of them.  From our pre-show warm up of attempting to choreograph a dance to Matisyahu’s “One Day”, which plays in pre-show music (listen for it!) to having my hair expertly done by Emielia Put while I bop around to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” (my own personal warm-up) to stepping on stage for the very first moment, to hearing the first big laugh or gasp from the audience, to noticing every little change my fellow actors make in their performances, to the curtain call, and to having a drink after the show, I will be enjoying every last minute.  Come join us.  If you meet us at the bar afterward, we just might show you that dance we’ve been working on…

– Rebecca Benhayon (Daphna)