Tuesday, February 28th, 2017: in the morning, The Baltimore Waltz embarks on the road to production; in the evening, Fool for Love starts its extension week with Community Night!
After months of designing, casting, and scheduling, the first day of rehearsal for The Baltimore Waltz arrives! The cast and crew gather together for First Day – Magic’s tradition of opening the first rehearsal to staff members, literary committee members, donors, and Laney College students to hear the cast’s first read-through of the script.
Artistic Director Loretta Greco’s opening remarks perfectly captured how Paula Vogel’s play simultaneously honors legacy and highlights the work needed to push forward:
I have this little ritual in the morning. It’s pretty simple, I do it sleepwalking because I get up about five AM these days with my daughter; and I throw the water in, and I grind the coffee beans, and I start her breakfast, and I think about retracing my mother’s steps in the kitchen and my grandmother’s steps in her kitchen and back through time. And I think that’s the thing that I love most about theatre: this ability to have a conversation with our ancestors.
And what is sublime about a career, a lifetime of writing for the theatre – as Paula’s career and her canon of writing has been – is that she takes us along with her.
Vogel - in town for only a few days to launch the production - speaks on The Baltimore Waltz, and what it's like being back in San Francisco, the home of her brother:
I’m so honored to be here, and so moved, Loretta, that you thought of this play for your 50th anniversary. I found myself a little astonished that it’s the 25th anniversary of this production and that next year will be the 30th anniversary of Carl’s death. How is that possible? One of the things that I find so remarkable about theatre is that every day that we’re in the room together is so intense that time travel happens – and suddenly we’re 30 years down the path.
At the moment that you emailed me saying, “we’d like to do this,” I went into the bathroom (I don’t normally do this) and looked myself in the mirror. And I thought, I’m coming back to Carl’s home and walking the streets where I envisioned this play. So it’s an incredible homecoming.
I’m excited by everyone in the room, and all the art and the work that you’ve created, and I know I only have a few days here and that’s going to fly by, but I just want to thank everybody in the field for the fact of the last 30 years of my life.
Vogel shares how excited she is that The Baltimore Waltz will be guided by the deliberate hand of director Jon Moscone. Moscone speaks to the cast about the work ahead, and what he sees as The Baltimore Waltz’s singular triumph:
Anyone who’s ever gone through the moment of grieving or the moment you hear that someone is going to die – there’s anywhere else that you want to be. You don’t want to be there. There’s no reason that you should be there, there’s nothing to be gained by being there. You’re going to be there for the rest of your life, you don’t need to be there now.
She writes that.
Like How I Learned to Drive, it’s not a play about grief – she writes grief. And that’s why it’s so funny, and so indelicate. Because she’s not looking at something: the play isn’t really about something, it just has to be something.
Fool for Love's extension week kicks off with Community Night - a Tuesday performance open to Bay Area artists and employees of local organizations and non-profits.
Speaking in front of a collage of the more than 200 playwrights who have had their work on the Magic stage - many of those playwrights directly or indirectly influenced of Vogel - Paula Vogel reflects on the role Magic and Loretta Greco has played as a champion of new plays and playwrights:
I was thrilled at the moment that Loretta took over the Magic - I was thrilled with that. If it wasn't for Loretta ... I think a lot of these writers would not be launched into the world.
As the Magic artistic staff zero in on the works that will form Magic's 51st season, it's an opportunity to reflect on Magic's past - a canon that holds both Sam Shepard and Paula Vogel, a theatre that has fostered and continues to foster an environment in which great playwrights can flourish and create great works. Loretta Greco's toast sums it all up: "To new work, and work seen anew!"