The Magic Theatre is a theatre company founded in 1967, presently based at the historic Fort Mason Center on San Francisco's northern waterfront. For half a century, The Magic Theatre has been one of the most prominent theatre companies in the United States solely dedicated to development and production of new plays.
The Magic Theatre originated in 1967 when John Lion, a student of Jan Kott at the University of California, directed a production of Eugène Ionesco's The Lesson at the Steppenwolf Bar in Berkeley. The theatre's name came from a crucial location in Hermann Hesse's 1927 novel Steppenwolf : "Anarchist Evening at the Magic Theatre, For Madmen Only, Price of Admission Your Mind".
The Magic's first real success came with plays written by renowned Beat poet Michael McClure, who sustained an eleven-year residency. The theatre reached a turning point when company members wanted to restructure it as a collective. Lion responded by moving the theatre across the bay to San Francisco, where it resided in a series of low-rent venues including another bar, the Rose and Thistle. In 1976 Lion learned of plans to convert a historic military base into an arts center with a view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge . The idea was to change "swords into plowshares". The Magic became one of Fort Mason's first resident non-profit companies.
Sam Shepard began his long association with the Magic as playwright in residence in 1975. The Magic produced the world premiere productions of his Inacoma (1977), Buried Child (1978), Suicide in B-flat, True West (1980) directed by Robert Woodruff, Fool for Love (1983), and The Late Henry Moss (2000). Buried Child was awarded the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Shepard also developed collaborative pieces with the renowned actor and director Joseph Chaikin. Other playwrights associated with the theatre include John O'Keefe, who staged many of his plays there, including Shimmer .
In 1986, John Lion and the Magic received the Margo Jones Award, the highest honor given by the Dramatists Guild. The award cited the Magic's "significant contribution to the dramatic art through the production of new plays." John Lion left the Magic in the late 1980s to teach, direct and lecture. He died suddenly on August 1, 1999.
Larry Eilenberg became the Artistic Director in 1992, and was followed by Mame Hunt until 1998. Eilenberg resumed the position for five more seasons, during which time he premiered Charles L. Mee's Summertime and First Love and Moira Buffini's Silence. His Festival of Irish Women Playwrights resulted in the Magic's offering the U.S. premiere of Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets , before its Broadway run.
Current Producing Artistic Director Loretta Greco took the reins April 2008.Prior to joining Magic, she was producing artistic director of the Women's Project in New York City and associate director and staff producer of McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey.
In the fall of 2010, the Magic Theatre collaborated with the Marin Theatre Company and the American Conservatory Theater to put on "The Brother/Sister Plays," a set of plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney.The Magic performed "The Brothers Size", which was directed by Octavio Solis and starred Tobie Windham, Joshua Elijah Reese, and Alex Ubokudom, with a set design by James Faerron. Among the other plays at the Magic in 2010 two were listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's Top Ten: Luis Alfaro's Oedipus el Rey and Liz Duffy Adams' Or.
Actors who have performed at the Magic include Danny Glover, Peter Coyote, Kathy Baker, Ed Harris, John O'Keefe (also playwright), and the original cast of The Late Henry Moss , Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, James Gammon and Cheech Marin.
Samuel Shepard Rogers III was an American actor, playwright, author, screenwriter, and director whose career spanned half a century. He won ten Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most won by any writer or director. He wrote 58 plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. He received the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York magazine described Shepard as "the greatest American playwright of his generation."
True West is a play by American playwright Sam Shepard.
The San Jose Repertory Theatre was the first resident professional theatre company in San Jose, California. It was founded in 1980 by James P. Reber. In 2008, after the demise of the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, the San Jose Rep became the largest non-profit, professional theatre company in the South Bay with an annual operating budget of $5 million. In 2006, it was saved from impending insolvency by a $2 million bailout loan from the city of San Jose; this was later restructured into a long-term loan similar to a mortgage.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theatre company founded in 1974 by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise in the Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield, Illinois and is now located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Halsted Street. Its name comes from the 1927 novel Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse which original member Rick Argosh was reading during the company's inaugural production, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, in January 1974.
Robert Woodruff is an American theater director.
Buried Child is a play written by Sam Shepard that was first presented in 1978. It won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and launched Shepard to national fame as a playwright. The play depicts the fragmentation of the American nuclear family in a context of disappointment and disillusionment with American mythology and the American Dream, the 1970s rural economic slowdown, and the breakdown of traditional family structures and values. In 1979, Shepard also won the Obie Award for Playwriting. The Broadway revival in 1996 received five Tony nominations, including Best Play.
Fool for Love is a play written by American playwright and actor Sam Shepard. The play focuses on May and Eddie, former lovers who have met again in a motel in the desert. The play premiered in 1983 at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, where Shepard was the playwright-in-residence. The play was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Lillian Groag is an American playwright, theater director, and actress. Her plays include The Ladies of the Camellias, The Magic Fire, and The White Rose.
Lamplighters Music Theatre is a semi-professional musical theatre company based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1952 by Orva Hoskinson and Ann Pool MacNab, the Lamplighters specialize in light opera, particularly the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as such works as The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, Of Thee I Sing, My Fair Lady, Candide, and A Little Night Music.
Murray Mednick is an American playwright and poet. He is best known as founder of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival, where he served as artistic director from 1978 to 1995. He has received numerous awards for his plays, including two Rockefeller Grants and an OBIE.
The Shotgun Players is a California East Bay regional theatre group located in Berkeley, California. It runs 6 to 7 productions per season. Its main stage is the Ashby Stage located in the Lorin District near the Ashby BART station.
John Kolvenbach is an American playwright. His plays have been performed on the West End and all over the world, including productions in Rome, Sydney, Wellington, Seoul, Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Zurich, San Juan, Berlin and in many theatres in the US. The plays are published by Methuen and the Dramatists Play Service. His most notable works include Sister Play,Gizmo Love, Love Song, On An Average Day, Goldfish, Marriage Play,Bank Job,Fabuloso.
Tim Barsky is an American musician from Boston, Massachusetts. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a beatboxer-instrumentalist, playwright-performer, and urban circus artist. He is a graduate of Brown University with a degree in Islamic and Judaic religious studies. He also studied at the Berklee School of Music and with the Chasidic folklorist and archivist Fishel Bresler.
Corner Theatre E.T.C. was an experimental theater located in Baltimore, Maryland, existing from 1968 to 1987 as a nonprofit cultural organization.
Padua Playwrights Productions, or Padua, is a Los Angeles-based theater company founded in 1978 by playwright and poet Murray Mednick. The site-specific Workshop/Festival ceased operation in 1995 and reemerged in 2001 under the artistic direction of Guy Zimmerman.
Carey Elizabeth Perloff is an American theater director, playwright, author, and educator. She was the artistic director of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco from 1992 to June 2018.
Pam MacKinnon is an American theatre director. She has directed for the stage Off-Broadway, on Broadway and in regional theatre. She won the Obie Award for Directing and received a Tony Award nomination, Best Director, for her work on Clybourne Park. In 2013 she received the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She was named Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California on January 23, 2018.
Sharr White is an American playwright. His plays have appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway.
Lucas Hnath is an American playwright. He won the 2016 Obie Award for excellence in playwriting for his plays Red Speedo and The Christians. He also won a Whiting Award.
Se Llama Cristina is a one-act play by Latino playwright Octavio Solis. A man and woman wake up locked in an apartment with nothing but a crib with a fried chicken leg in it. They have no idea who they are, why they're there, and what their relationship to each other is. They must piece together their past histories to find their identities and construct a future. This poetic play takes you through time and space and feels like a claustrophobic fever dream about the anxieties of parenthood. The play uses elements of magic realism.