San Francisco's Magic Theatre continues its 1998-99 season, the first under artistic director Larry Eilenberg, with the West Coast premiere of Sam Shepard's Eyes For Consuela. The show started previews Feb. 10 and 11 for an official run Feb. 12-28 at the Cowell Theatre space.
Based on Octavio Paz's short story "The Blue Bouquet," Consuela tells of a middle-aged fellow who escapes from society in a small Mexican village, only to be terrorized by a bandito who wants to cut out his eyeballs.
The show marks a twenty-nine year artistic association between the Pulitzer winning playwright and The Magic, which began back in 1970 when Magic produced Shepard's first full-length, La Turista. He took up residency there in 1975, with the theatre producing the world premieres of numerous Shepard classics: Buried Child, Angel City, True West, Fool for Love, Action, and Killer's Head (a one-man show starring a very young Richard Gere). Other plays by Shepard include, Curse of the Starving Class, Simpatico, States of Shock, Tooth of Crime, Back Bog Beast Bait and numerous others.
The Magic's cast for Consuela includes: Richard Coco, Robert Ernest, Zoe Galvez, and Cesar Florez.
Playing at the Magic's home space concurrently (Feb. 10-28) is David Cale's solo, Lillian. After Consuela at the Magic, life for women in a repressive, Islamic culture gets explored in Karen Hartman's Gum (opening Apr. 27, 1999), while Doug Wright's acclaimed Quills (opening May 25, 1999) looks at one of the world's least repressed people, the Marquis de Sade. Author Wright will be in residence at the Magic to direct his own play for the first time.
Also on tap for the 1998-99 season is a "Raw Play" staged reading series, featuring eight new works.
New artistic director Eilenberg replaces Mame Hunt, who left to become associate artistic director of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre.
As for the Magic's 1999-00 season, the company has received a $100,000 grant from the National Theatre Artist Residency (via the Pew Charitable Trusts and TCG) to help complete and stage John O'Keefe's Bronte Cycle trilogy. A $16,500 NEA grant will also help O'Keefe and other writers in residency at the Magic.
For tickets ($18 - $32) or more information on any show at the Magic Theatre, call (415) 441-8822.
-- By Sean McGrath