The Playgoer: Magic needs a Miracle?

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Magic needs a Miracle?

Add to the endangered species list of theatres the famed Magic of San Francisco. Incubator for many noted writers it was home to Sam Shepard in one of his most prolific periods in the 70s & 80s.

Now, a call for help:

San Francisco's nationally acclaimed new plays theatre, MAGIC THEATRE, is on the brink of shutting its doors. Now in the midst of a staff shutdown, MAGIC may be forced to cancel the remainder of its season and close for good. To keep our doors open we must raise $350,000 by January 9, 2009....

The closing of MAGIC THEATRE would be a great loss for artists and audiences here and across the country. The second largest theatre in San Francisco, MAGIC employs 200 artists annually and touches the lives of tens of thousands of people. We need to keep our artists and our work on the stage!

Tough times to be a small Bay Area house, it seems. Shakespeare Santa Cruz just sent out a similar SOS call. (Happily, the outpouring of support helped them dodge the bullet for now.) Interesting that one is all new plays, the other old. So you can't say just one genre or the other is especially at risk--or at fault. As we've been hearing for so long, it's the mid-size companies that are going to be hit the hardest. Theatres with large professionaly expenses but small donor pools and no endowments to see them through rough waters.

Meanwhile SF critic/blogger Chloe Veltman asks an intriguing question on the personal side:
It's interesting that both of these organizations recently acquired new artistic directors among much media hooplah and the announcement of Bold New Artistic Horizons. I wonder how much information Marco Barriccelli, who joined Shakespeare Santa Cruz a year ago, and Loretta Greco, who arrived at The Magic in the summer, knew about the financial situations of their respective organizations when they signed their artistic director contracts? Were they kept in the dark, at least to some degree, about the bareness of the theatres' coffers when they signed on? Or did they somehow imagine that the red marks on the accounting ledgers would miraculously disappear in the wake of high quality productions, euphoric reviews and packed houses?

I ask, because no one in their right mind would uproot their lives from the East Coast as both of these highly-regarded directors did and travel across the country to watch their professional lives take this kind of wretched turn.

Well here's hoping it's not that wretched.

You can donate to Magic Theatre here.

Happy New Year!


ledomaine said...

Authors, too, an endangered species, it seems.

Haunting and excellent post. But, of course, you know that. If you had the link, I'd have "followed" your posts. Sorry about the melancholic aura; it's just got to be "writers' flu"--or something?

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Any reason why the deadlines for these fund raising goals are so short? The Magic needs 350K by Jan 9... I seem to remember SSC needed a similar amount within a similarly short length of time. You'd think they'd have seen these deficits coming.

Anonymous said...

Also, would anyone think me crass--stupid question--for pointing out that SSC's press release announcing the rescue didn't even bother to thank the supporters until the third paragraph? And that was because the donors acknowledged that SSC was "important." The rest was corporatespeak and run of the mill artistic martyrdom.

I'm glad SSC was saved (and I donated), but you'd expect a little humility. It was a little off-putting to be frank.

Anonymous said...

Regarding short deadlines, individual contributors often respond better to immediate needs.

Ken said...

If you enjoyed the work of previous Magic Theater Artistic Director Chris Smith, he is directing 42nd Street Moon's current production of the Gershwin's Lady, Be Good! which he has reset (with the Gershwin's estates permission) in San Francisco! if you're interested.