Though he's filming in Vancouver, actor and playwright Sam Shepard will fly to San Francisco's Magic Theatre this weekend. He's got good reason: they're naming a theatre after him and throwing a four-day "SamFest" in his honor, Apr. 30-May 3. Shepard is expected to participate in the SamFest by reading from his recent prose work, "Cruising Paradise," May 2.
Theatrewise, the SamFest gets underway Apr. 30 with a marathon staged reading of Shepard's one-acts and early plays. Here are the plays and casts for that night:
The Rock Garden, with Jason Brooke, Annie Stokes & C.W. Morgan; dir: Tom Ross.
Icarus' Mother, with Danny Scheie (who also directs), Corie Henninger, Alexis Lezin, Adam Gavzer & Liam Vincent.
Fourteen Hundred Thousand with Larry Biederman (who also directs), Andrew Hurteau, Jane Spigarelli, Barbara Oliver and Gerry Hiken. Red Cross with Nancy Maloney, Joel Mullennix and Stephanie Hunt; dir: Margo Hall.
Cowboys #2 with Matthew Courtney, Shane Barnes, Brian Close, Damon Sperber & Johnny Moreno; dir: Timothy Douglas.
The Unseen Hand with Brian Keith Russell, Damon Seawell, Mark Phillips, Ryan Montgomery and Hansford Prince; Dir: Octavio Solis.
The Holy Ghostly with Kathleen Conry, Dell Grooms, Paula Sonenberg, Erik Kever Ryle & Bob Scott; Dir: Frank Coppola (no relation to you-know-who; although Francis Ford Coppola is expected in the audience on Saturday).
Cowboy Mouth with Randy Klefbeck, June Lumena & Marvin Green. Dir: Dan Chumley.
Action with Cully Fredricksen, John Flanagan, Sommer Ulrickson & Nina Gold. Dir: Kenn Watt.
Killer's Head directed by and starring Robert Ernst.
On May 1, celebrity alumni and friends will gather to read one of Shepard's most famous works, Fool For Love, which premiered at Magic Theatre in 1983. Expected are Michael O'Keefe, film director Philip Kaufman (who directed Shepard in The Right Stuff) and Sandy Rogers, a recording artist who's also Shepard's sister.
After a panel discussion May 2, longtime Shepard collaborator Joseph Chaikin will read War In Heaven, which he co-authored.
Finishing the fest, May 3, will be a staged reading of Eyes For Consuela, which recently played at NY's Manhattan Theatre Club second stage. Magic Theatre will stage the show's West Coast premiere next season.
Following Consuela, the Southside Theatre will be renamed "The Sam Shepard Theatre" at a Gala Benefit for the Magic company.
In other Magic Theatre news, the company has been in the news recently, following an announcement that artistic director, Mame Hunt, will leave to become associate artistic director of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Hunt is to remain at the Magic through Samfest. For tickets ($150-$200 for the whole SamFest) and information, call (415) 441-8001.
-- By David Lefkowitz