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  • Magic Theatre Apprentices

    Have you met our awesome apprentices? Lily Sorenson is our Artistic Directing Apprentice, and Leigh Rondon-Davis is our Literary Apprentice.

    I snapped this while we were preparing for our NextGen event last Friday.

    Do you think they are texting each other?


    Things I Learned on Opening Night of Fred’s Diner

    We opened Fred’s last week. Don’t miss it! It closes a week from Sunday!

    Here are a few things I learned on Opening Night:

    1. The Mexican Museum is awesome, we had our pre-party there. Special thanks to Mela (pictured below). I plan to go back down there and buy a colorful tortilla holder.

    2. Penelope Skinner is not only smart, talented, sweet and funny but incredibly photogenic (see evidence below). And she has cool shoes.

    3.  Magic staff cleans up nice. And Associate Directing Apprentice Lily Sorenson is a ham.

    Mela from the Mexican Museum

    Mela from the Mexican Museum

    Lily Sorenson tending the pre-party bar

    Lily Sorenson tending the pre-party bar

    Me and Penelope being silly

    Me and Penelope being silly

    sonia and penny

    Which of these two women is our Artistic Director?

    Which of these two women is our Artistic Director?

    Loretta thanks all the wonderful artists who worked on the show!

    Loretta thanks all the wonderful artists who worked on the show!

    A toast to Penelope

    A toast to Penelope

    Photos of “American” Roadside Diners in England

    image4image7Roadside "American" Diner in Englandimage6image8


    Mother/Daughter dialect team

    deb and jess
    (Deborah Sussel and Jessica Berman)
    Fred’s Diner, written by English Playwright Penelope Skinner, is set in a motorway diner outside of Oxford. We called upon our favorite Mother/Daughter team of dialect coaches to help make our production sound as Oxfordshire-y as possible. I spoke to Jessica Berman and Deb Sussell about their work. They also shared with me a youtube video that they used as the basis of their accents for Fred’s. Check it out.
    Can you talk a little about the dialects in Fred’s Diner?
    Penelope Skinner  sets the play in rural Oxfordshire, and from our research we found that there are many varieties of that dialect. We chose to use, as a model, a man who was born in Oxfordshire, and uses sounds that are earthy and in contrast to the high status English accents we Americans usually hear on Masterpiece Theatre.  
    What do you love about coaching dialects:
    Researching dialects for plays is such fun for us because it bridges the imaginative aspects of the material with the living sounds of the real people we’re using as models.  This helps the actors believe and commit to the reality of the situation and their characters in a visceral way.
    What do we love about working together:
    It’s so helpful to speak the same language, and we find that the collaboration feels quite creative.
    Where are you two from and what is that dialect called:
    Having been born in Philadelphia, Deborah’s dialect is an East Coast variant of General American Speech.  Jessica was born in California and has a General American dialect.  We’re from a family that loves sound and language and we find that we’re influenced by the sounds we hear around us.

    Behind the Scenes at Fred’s Diner Rehearsal — Bootcamp

    I overheard Jessi Campbell (who plays Chloe in Fred’s Diner) talking about the mind and body workouts happening in rehearsal:
    Bootcamp for the body:

    “The ladies plank every day. Boys refuse to do it. They don’t want to get beat by the girls.”


    I took this photo yesterday [Clockwise from bottom left are Katharine Chin who plays Melissa; Julia McNeal who plays Heather; Jessi and Sofie Miller our Production Assistant].
    These ladies held planks for a full two minutes!  I joined in for the last minute or so, because girl power.
    And the mind:

    “There’s so much busy work on this show. So much [waitress] stuff! Food. Plates. Ketchup. And  we’re still working on lines. It’s bootcamp for the mind. Its good though because for them [waitresses] it is like autopilot. And we are so lucky to be working on the set so early.”

    Kind of like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time.

    On Dramaturgy for Fred’s Diner


    [From playwright Penelope Skinner, a photo she took at a diner last weekend]

    Fred’s Diner starts previews TOMORROW! Here is the first of several posts offering a look inside the world of our production.

    Fred’s Diner is set in a roadside American-themed diner in England and, like much of Penelope Skinner’s work, contains complex female characters — in Fred’s these are a trio of waitresses.

    From dramaturg Hilary Flynn:

    As dramaturg, you’re responsible for helping the rehearsal team acclimate to the world surrounding the play.  With Fred’s, I got to be an expert on England and diners, which meant I got to eat a lot of greasy breakfast and feel posh about it.  One day, I watched Mystic Pizza and called it dramaturgy.  Another day I drank a milkshake at St. Francis Fountain in the Mission and cried doing research about Uni.*

    The women of Fred’s Diner rock.  So I looked into waitress culture specifically.

    In an article, written in 1941 for The Diner magazine, Sam Yellin lists the advantages of having women work in diners:

    1. Women will work for less pay.
    2. Women won’t stay out late drinking and call in sick the next day.
    3. Women belong around food.
    4. Women will work harder than men.
    5. Women are always happy.
    6. Women are more efficient workers.
    7. Women are more honest than men– they don’t steal.
    8. Women can talk and work at the same time.
    9. Women clean diners better than men.
    10. Women are cleaner than men.
    11. The customers like women better.
    12. Customers don’t swear in front of women.**

    *Watching The Theory of Everything.

    ** Taylor, Candacy.  Counter Culture: The American Coffeeshop Waitress.  ILR Press: 2009.


    Hi Actors and Avid Blog Readers with Actor Friends,

    We wanted to raise awareness about our Equity Audition for our 2015-2016 season of bold new plays. OUR AEA AUDITION IS:

     Monday, April 20th 11AM-6PM. 

    For more info on that event, check out www.magictheatre.org/get-involved/auditions.

    We also know that the Bay is full of wonderful actors that haven’t joined the union (many of whom have received emails detailing a waitlist process for Monday, April 20th).

    Hey you guys, guess what:

    THE WAIT IS OVER because we’ve added a SECOND DAY OF AUDITIONS!

    On Friday, April 24th 11AM-6PM we will be holding a non-equity audition !!

    Email auditions@magictheatre.org to sign up.

    Whichever day you come, please bring a headshot and resume, stapled together, and three minutes of material—either two contrasting contemporary monologues, or one monologue and an a cappella song.

    Magic Theatre is located in Building D of Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94123. Check-in prior to auditions will take place in the theatre’s lobby on the 3rd floor of the building.

    We are so happy to be a member of this big beautiful theatre community full of so many great artists, and can’t wait to see you!

    Email auditions@magictheatre.org to schedule an appointment, or if you’d like more information.

    Sister Play Opening Night (Photos)

    SISTER PLAY opened on April 1st. The celebration started with a photo-op and continued with John Kolvenbach’s amazing play. A toast was heard after the show and appreciation for everyone’s hard work was felt.

    You still have the chance to see SISTER PLAY! The show runs through April 19th. To purchase tickets, click the link “tickets” above.  Did I mention today is OFF THE GRID at Fort Mason?  Grab some food and come on up to the lounge pre-show.  We also have an exciting actor talkback tonight led by SISTER PLAY’S Dramaturg, Dori Jacob!  Hoping you can join us.

    P.S.  Were you at opening night?  See for youself in the photos below.

    Click to view and right click to download!

    SISTER PLAY Press Photos


    These images are for the exclusive use of journalists and other members of the media and may only be used for coverage or promotion of Magic Theatre. Photos may not be used for commercial or personal use without written permission from Magic Theatre, and unauthorized alteration, reproduction or sale of these images is strictly prohibited.

    When reproducing an image, please use the appropriate caption and credit as indicated.

    All images © Magic Theatre. All rights reserved.

    Click to view the full size photo in a new window, then right click to save

    PHOTO 1












    Lilly (Jessi Campbell) demands love from her older sister Anna (Lisa Brescia*)
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)

    PHOTO 2










    Malcolm (Anthony Fusco*) ponders just what he’s made of in John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play

    PHOTO 3


    Malcolm (Anthony Fusco*) Anna (Lisa Brescia*) and Lilly (Jessi Campbell) sit down to after dinner wine.
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)
    PHOTO 4
    Anna (Lisa Brescia*) in John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)
    PHOTO 5
    William (Patrick Kelly Jones*) in John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)
    PHOTO 6


    Lilly (Jessi Campbell) in John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)
    PHOTO 7
    William (Patrick Kelly Jones), Lilly (Jessi Campbell) and Anna (Lisa Brescia*) have a late night discussion in John Kolvenbach’s Sister Play 
    (Photo credit Jennifer Reiley)

    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 ryanp@magictheatre.org to reserve tickets. See you there!