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  • All Roads Lead to Magic by Sarah Stoker, summer intern

    Everything from the top of my poufy hair down to the bottom of my black boots wants to prove that millenials aren’t lazy. But as I sprawled out on my bed in my Berkeley apartment at 7:36pm this past Saturday night with a bag of frozen peas icing my back (I do a lot of sports, and not just during the Olympics) and enjoying the glow of Netflix on my screen over and over: I couldn’t help it. I was feeling lazy, happy as a clam, resting after a long day.

    Glancing over to my clock: “Oh shoot!” I realized how late it had gotten. There was no way I was going to make my co-worker’s (fellow intern Lukas Sarnow) play in the city. I didn’t know what my options were to get to the theatre. This predicament made me wonder how often this happens to people.

    I’ve been commuting to Magic all summer for my awesome internship. Here are three stories about my different rides to Magic from the East Bay:

    Yes, sometimes getting to the theatre can be beyond tedious. Do I take the bus, is there parking for my car, do I take an uber, can I walk? After my moped and my bicycle both were stolen (not at Magic) by the end of the summer no part of me wanted to go outside anyway. But what were the chances my shoes were going to be stolen? “Very slim,” I told myself. So I leaned on public transportation hard.

    I hope you're happy moped, wherever you may be. Remember our good days?

    I hope you’re happy moped, wherever you may be. Remember our good days?

    Before my bike got stolen, I would ride to Magic from the transbay terminal (AC Transit F through Oakland and Emeryville across the bay bridge) in San Francisco. I join the bicyclists riding over Fort Mason Park, on their way to the Golden Gate Bridge. One morning while walking my bike up the hill from the Aquatic Park, I saw a woman and her daughter biking up the hill. The daughter was trying so hard but her foot kept sliding off mid-pedal. No matter how little the daughter was pedaling, she wasn’t going to fall. Her mom would have caught her. She made it up that hill thanks to her mom pedaling away on the front seat.

    IMG_4433

    Mom and daughter making their way up the hill.

    The relationship between the mom and the daughter both on the same mission working together, traveling up the hill reminded me of the beautiful relationship between Anna and her brother, Carl in Baltimore Waltz. This sibling duo travels to Europe, enjoying themselves and looking to get Anna medicine for the disease she contracted. They are a little co-dependent, but mostly sweet, like that little girl and her mother on the tandem bike.

    Another fun way to get to Magic Theatre is to take the cable car (this isn’t a very efficient way, to get there in time for a show, but if time isn’t an issue, you should try it). You start in the heart of the city at Powell with the throngs of tourists and can take it all the way out to the coast in the Marina, where we are, sort of! My cousin and I took it one day. It was so odd how if the car stopped, you could get off by just stepping off whenever. You didn’t have to pull a cord or push a button.

    On the cable car, the rules are different. For some reason, they don’t need to stop at red lights, or maybe that was just the car I was on? Although sitting in Magic’s office day in, day out could sound mundane for a summer, it really hasn’t been. At Magic, the pace is similar as sometimes you’re on a fast-paced mission and other times you can take your time absorbing all the details. One time the production manager and I rushed over to the middle of the city to clean an apartment that one of the playwrights stayed in (so glamorous, I know) so that we could be back in time for a meeting. Yesterday, I had to call a cab for a very cute set designer. A couple weeks ago, I interviewed a director for a podcasts. I’ve also read a LOT of plays.

    The people jumping in and out of the cable car at the stop signs are like the people that come in and out of our office. This couple on the cable car that I met was from Philadelphia and the husband rowed in college, just like me. He asked for the best hikes here and I suggested my favorites. My supervisor, Claire has given me a solid date night list of places bit also tips on how to research seating designs. (Did you know Magic wants to get new seats?) Whether I’m in a cable car bumping shoulders with tourists or in the office learning about Jesse Williams BET speech, I trying to learn something from everyone and I’m try to contribute. To say that I have learned a lot as an intern at Magic would be an understatement.

    Me and my cousin Abbey

    Me and my cousin Abbey

    The story that haunts me the most from my summer of traveling into the city was when I was riding through Fisherman’s Wharf. There was a group of high school-age kids playing with nerf guns. They were jumping off of benches and onto the sidewalk. There were two guns and four kids playing, one of the boys shot at the girl while she ducked behind a planter. Her words echo in my head. “Why do you gotta shoot the black kid?” There is always an element of truth in jokes.

    As the Black Lives Matter movement continues in our country, gun violence is a topic close to almost every American. On October 12, 2012, Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year old Mexican boy was shot and killed from across the border by America boarder patrol officers. This story, as a launching pad for an exploration of the border, unfolds onstage in Magic’s season opener, Nogales a co-production with Campo Santo.

    So next time taking that extra step to find a way to get to our theatre doors, think of all the people you could meet along the way, and that might help you find some inspiration to get inspired at Magic.

    Sarah Stoker is an aspiring Bay Area theatre artist, UC Berkeley rower and spoon collector. Her favorite Magic Theatre memories this summer include Pilipino burritos, run club, and coffee.

    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.”

    And

    “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!