Larry Eilenberg begins his tenure as new artistic director of San Francisco's Magic Theatre with a line-up of plays that are dark, off-beat and downright mystical. The company will offer a recent Sam Shepard work, a world premiere, a British drama -- and an exploration of the sensual side of chewing gum.
Opening the season Oct. 13 is Mules, a drama by UK playwright Winsome Pinnock. Beginning previews Oct. 8, Mules tells of a young black women trafficking drugs from Jamaica to London. The play was commissioned by the Clean Break Theatre Company, which specifically represents former female prisoners.
Neena Beeber's A Common Vision follows, opening Jan. 19 after starting previews Jan. 13, 1999. Not your typical romantic drama, Vision eoncompasses "love, death, faith, aliens and the nature of reality," especially when a young woman, in therapy to get over a failed romance -- is seen floating above her high-rise.
Eyes For Consuela, which premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club's Second Stage last season, comes to the Magic's Cowell space, Feb. 10 (opening Feb. 12, 1999). Based on a short story by Octavio Paz, 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 Shepard production caps a strong relationship between the playwright and this theatre, which offered a "Samfest" just a few weeks ago.
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. Eilenberg has appointed Mary Coleman as associate artistic director of the Magic.
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 and information on the Magic Theatre's 31st season, call (415) 441-8001.
-- By David Lefkowitz