Say abracadabra -- San Francisco's Magic Theatre has a new artistic director. Dr. Larry Eilenberg, professor of drama at San Francisco State University, has been tapped for the Magic slot. He replaces Mame Hunt, who was named associate artistic director of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Hunt remains at the Magic through its current-season performances of Shimmer and Samfest, a four-day festival celebrating the works of Sam Shepard, April 30-May 3. Eilenberg takes over in May.
Eilenberg, who already served as Magic's artistic director (1992-93), will continue to be a professor at SFU. Other credits include founding San Francisco's New Vaudeville Festival and writing pieces for Public Radio's Morning Edition and Voice of America.
"We initially approached Dr. Eilenberg about helping us in an interim capacity," said Magic board chairperson Karen Rose. "[We] were ecstatic when he indicated he would be interested in taking on the position permanently. The Board was very happy with his earlier tenure at the Magic during an artistically acclaimed and popular season."
As for John O'Keefe's Shimmer, it's a monologue about two misfit boys who create a fantasy world to compensate for the brutality of their real lives in a '50s Midwestern reform school. The drama is paying a return visit to San Francisco starring the author, Mar. 25-April 26.
The work, which replaces the postponed production of Jon Robin Baitz's A Fair Country, is being performed at the Magic Theatre as part of its season-long 30th anniversary celebration. Shimmer was first written in 1988 under a commission by San Francisco's American Inroads Series. The work was performed by its author in San Francisco and New York and then traveled to London and Glascow -- ultimately winning O'Keefe a writer's residency at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Institute. The subsequent film version of Shimmer was seen as part of the PBS "American Playhouse" series.
Other plays and solo works by writer-actor O'Keefe include Ghosts, Vid, The Promotion, Disgrace and Mimzabim, as well as The Deatherians, a work about euthanasia that swept the Dallas Critics Circle Awards after its premiere there in 1996.
O'Keefe has also written a film and multiple plays (The Flowers of Fancy, The Bronte Cycles) about the literary Bronte family. The Magic Theatre's 1998-99 season is to include the world premiere of his play The Seduction of Charlotte Bronte.
For information, call (415) 441-8822.