His influences were the European avant-garde, the American beats, the hippies and the "Theatre of the Absurd," and by bringing those elements together, John Lion changed the theatrical landscape of 1960s-70s San Francisco.
Feb. 14, the Magic Theatre will remember Lion in a special tribute service at the Northside Theatre space.
Lion founded the Magic more than 30 years ago with a production of Eugene Ionesco's The Lesson performed at the Steppenwolf Bar in Berkeley. He was known for producing cutting-edge work from such playwrights as John O'Keefe, Michael McClure, Murray Mednick and Sam Shephard, including True West, then an unknown work.
After leaving the Magic, Lion went on a earn a Ph.D. at Stanford and work at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, producing the annual American College Theatre Festival. He was about to take his position as chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Cal State Los Angeles when he suffered a fatal heart attack in the summer of 1999.
Lion is survived by his wife, Kitty (whom he met at the Magic Theatre) and their four children. The public is invited to attend the tribute at 7PM at the Magic Theatre's Northside Theatre. For information, call the Magic at (415) 441-8001 ext. 38
--By Christine Ehren