Play On Shakespeare and The Magic Theatre Announce Multi-Year Residency

The partnership focuses on the development of new plays – filling the world with bodies and beings not typically acknowledged in Shakespearean theater history.

By: Nov. 22, 2022
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Play On Shakespeare and The Magic Theatre Announce Multi-Year Residency

Play On Shakespeare, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to exploring the world of Shakespeare in performance through translation and adaptation, has announced a multi-year residency with The Magic Theatre. The partnership focuses on the development of new plays - filling the world with bodies and beings not typically acknowledged in Shakespearean theater history. This is to say, productions populated with Women, People of Color, Queer and Trans folx not as directorial concepts but as citizens and denizens of the plays, and creators and performers in our contemporary theater world. The partnership also focuses on what happens when artists who have skill and experience in developing new work apply that focus to these translations - embodying them without changing their stories.

It all begins with a week-long, beta workshop (to model the future) on December 18, 7 p.m. at the Magic Theatre with heralded writer Naomi Iizuka presenting portions of her version of Richard II, alongside sharings of two brand new plays from Iizuka. This model of these new Shakespeare translations directly alongside new works by the same author - with the same casts - is the template for the partnership in sharing, exploring, and presenting new works and Shakespeare anew at the same time! This initial workshop will showcase how writers lead in both new play creation and new translations of original Shakespeare texts. In addition to the writer being at the center of both a new play and also a new production of a Shakespeare translation, the goal is to develop a performance company that will eventually perform in both plays as a Premiere Repertory Production. The Magic Theatre's Lead Director Sean San José, Iizuka, and new Magic Theatre Home Resident Company Campo Santo previously collaborated with California Shakespeare Theater to premiere a modern version of Hamlet, led by Iizuka and San José titled Blood In The Brain.

A second piece will come to fruition in April 2023. The Blueprint (an educational organization dedicated to training a new generation of BIPOC multi-hyphenate artists led by Nemuna Ceesay, associate director of A Strange Loop) & the Magic Theatre will work together with all-BIPOC artists alongside Migdalia Cruz on one of her two Play On Shakespeare translations and a new play of hers. This multi-year collaboration will culminate with a third piece to premiere in 2024 with Virginia (Vicki) Grise (recent winner of the prestigious Herb Alpert Award) featuring a production of her All's Well That Ends Well in repertory with a brand new play of her own. Both pieces will be performed by the same company of WOC - all women, non-binary, femme presenting, and trans folx. This element is key to the ethos of the partnership, process, and production - to have these classic plays translated in language but also by who embodies them. By producing, presenting, commissioning, and creating Repertory Productions of the Play On translations alongside in repertory with a brand new play by the same writer and with the same company of actors, a new way of experiencing the Shakespeare library can be etched out and at the same time living in a new play atmosphere.

In addition to the Magic Theatre's extensive relationship with Play On Shakespeare's President and Creative Director Lue Douthit, Sean San José is one of the writers of the Play On translations. San José's version of Coriolanus has been produced, workshopped, and published, including a recent workshop at Portland Center Stage, an upcoming production in 2023 at Actor's Shakespeare Theatre, an audio podcast production for Next Chapter Productions, and productions at University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a workshop at the University of San Diego at Old Globe.

Play On Shakespeare President and Creative Director Lue Douthit is influential in the Shakespeare and new play development universes. She previously served as the Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy for Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Ashland for 25 seasons and also as Lead Dramaturg and Producer of The BLACK SWAN Lab for New Play Development for 9 seasons. Lue has a long connection with new play development with the Magic Theatre, having helped develop and dramaturg many new plays through the decades.

The BLACK SWAN Lab was a fertile and intensive laboratory for developing new plays with the same company of actors who were performing the Shakespeare plays at OSF. In the BLACK SWAN Lab, the keys to immersing in language and story were felt in both the Shakespeare and the new plays. Having the two elements coexist made clearer the connectivity as opposed to thinking of them as two separate worlds. Similarly, Campo Santo, the first Home Resident Company of the Magic Theatre, has for more than 25 years developed a method creating new works in their "Open Process" model, which emphasizes a new play development process that creates a 'two trains running' where the themes and questions of the play are explored with folx in society that the issues actually affect, and at the same time informing a new play making process and premiere production. These are the foundational components in developing this residency and these workshops and eventual repertory premiere productions.

Chief in their mission to make the Magic Theatre home to more people by rightfully centering People of Color throughout, they now host more organizations of Color than anywhere in the Bay Area. Adding to their stellar roster of Resident Companies - which includes the first Home Resident Company Campo Santo, the legendary Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, the experimental Black Artists Creative Cultural Experience, Ellen Sebastian Chang / Sunhui Chang, Native American led TigerBear Productions, SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin, Playwright-In-Residence Star Finch, Resident Curator Juan Amador (in addition to our numerous individual Resident Artists) - and the newly announced historic Saint John Coltrane Church - The Magic Theatre is thrilled to announce this multi-year Residency with Play On Shakespeare, a residency that will be groundbreaking in its approach to developing and presenting Shakespeare and new works together.

Sean San José, The Magic Theatre's Lead Director: "This new Residency will uniquely place Shakespeare and new play development in concert together. The new repertory model is the future of coupling new plays with new Shakespeare productions filled with representative artists of the Bay Area."

Lue Douthit, President and Creative Director of Play On Shakespeare: "All plays are new plays to me. And should feel that way to the artists who embody them and the audiences who experience them. Hard to do with Shakespeare often. The central question we are examining here is how can the skills and experience of artists dedicated to the development of new plays apply to how we think about and work on Shakespeare? And conversely, what can the old teach the new?"