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December 31, 2008

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Theatre in the Bay Area took another hit this week, as the renowned Magic Theatre announced it is on the verge of closing.

This follows the closure of American Musical Theatre of San Jose earlier this month.  Shakespeare Santa Cruz also threatened to close in December, but managed to stay open after a successful drive to raise $300,000.

The Magic says it needs to raise $350,000 by January 9 to continue its 43rd season.  The staff there is now working without pay, and managing director David Jobin has left.  Artistic director Loretta Greco told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company has a $600,000 accumulated debt, some of which "we didn't realize we had." 

In its 42 years, the Magic has nurtured the work of four Pulitzer Prize winners, including Sam Shepard and Nilo Cruz, as well as local actors and marquis stars like Sean Penn and Ed Harris.  If the second largest theatre in San Francisco were to shutter its doors, it would be devastating for the arts community and the 200 artists it employs annually.   

That includes yours truly, whose next acting contract is at the Magic.  Luckily, it looks like this west coast premiere of Tough Titty will occur.  Written by the late actor/playwright Oni Faida Lampley, Tough Titty is a smart, funny inspiring play that chronicles a woman's battle with breast cancer.  

Now we can only hope that the Magic will be able to continue presenting the rest of its season and the groundbreaking new work for which it's become known. 

It's a desperate time for the arts, as manifested in the Facebook group "One Percent for the Arts Campaign!"  The group is asking people to sign a petition to ask Congress to assign a mere 1% of the federal stimulus package to the arts.  The group's tagline is "because artists and writers are also part of the economy," a fact people seem to have forgotten. 

One can only hope they start remembering.  Here's to 2009!

To help save the Magic Theatre, donate here.
December 31, 2008 12:00 AM | | Comments (1)



Great story, Lily. As theater critic for the Mercury News, I remember interviewing the very shy Sam Shepard in the lobby of the Magic upon the premiere of what would turn out to be the gutsiest production of "True West" (a later Marines Memorial staging sanded down the edges and made it a standard sitcom). Shepard was on his way to Texas to appear in a movie with Sissy Spacek. He was driving, of course. He may have been fearless when it came to chronicling our frontier atavism -- but he was, and remains, frightened of flying.

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