In the play directed by Magic's director of artistic development Mark Routhier, "four monkeys in an HIV-research lab do not become sick despite repeated injections of the virus — but why? Ava, the new head of the lab, must solve the mystery to find a breakthrough vaccine before her funding is cut. This daring new comic drama explores the lengths people go to fight for what they believe in. Mining the inherent drama of the high-stakes field of research funding, Fisher takes an insider look at one scientist's personal mission to keep her funding to continue her work on a cutting-edge HIV vaccine."
Opening is April 12. The cast of Monkey Room includes Magic veterans Robert Parsons and Kevin Rolston and newcomers Lauren Grace and Jessica Kitchens.
Monkey Room is a presentation of the Magic Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Initiative. Performances play Magic's Northside Theatre, Bldg D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA.
Magic artistic director Chris Smith stated, "Monkey Room probes a current issue with humor and heart. Kevin is not only a gifted writer; he is a noted member of the international HIV/AIDS research community. He has created a surprisingly irreverent romantic comedy that never soft-pedals the significance of its subject matter." Playwright Fisher is a researcher himself and was one of the presenters at the 16th International AIDS Conference. According to Magic, the HIV-vaccine research continues to be in the headlines since the unexpected failure of Merck's Step vaccine, one of the most promising in the field.
Fisher's plays have been performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Naked Angels, Adobe Theatre and Westbeth Theatre in New York. His screenplay "Under My Skin" won the 1995 Independent Feature Project screenwriting award. His comic monologues have been performed in comedy clubs, published by Smith & Kraus, printed as New York Times Op-Ed pieces, produced together as the show Legal Alien, and are currently being recorded for radio. He has a Masters Degree in Epidemiology, and presented a paper on HIV diagnosis at the 2004 International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.
In conjunction with the world-premiere production, Magic Theatre will present "Vaccine Dreams: Epidemics, Pandemics, and Monkey Room," a Sloan Initiative panel of experts April 27 at 4:30 PM at the Magic. It "aims to bring high-level scientists in close contact with artists to encourage cross-pollination."
The production team features set designer James Faerron, light designer Christopher Studley, costume designer Brandin Baron and sound designer Sara Huddleston.
Tickets are $20-$45 and available at (415) 441-8822 or www.magictheatre.org.
Loretta Greco was recently named Magic Theatre's new artistic director.
The Magic Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Initiative "is a three-year program designed to foster relationships between the scientific and artistic communities, focusing on Northern California and the Western United States." Made possible through a three-year $396,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Sloan Initiative commissions, develops, and produces plays "exploring the worlds of science and technology, and challenges stereotypes propagated in the public consciousness mostly by images in the media."
Founded in 1967, Magic Theatre is one of the most prominent theatres in the nation solely dedicated to development and production of new plays. Magic Theatre plays and playwrights have won numerous awards, including Pulitzer Prizes, Kennedy Center Award, NAACP Image Award, Obie Awards, Pen-West Awards, Bay Critics Circle Awards and Los Angeles Drama-Logue Awards.