Magic Theatre Extends Run of World Premiere Play JOSEPHINE'S FEAST

Catch this captivating new play at the Magic Theatre through August 30th.

By: Aug. 17, 2023
Magic Theatre Extends Run of World Premiere Play JOSEPHINE'S FEAST
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The Magic Theatre is extending the World Premiere of Star Finch's new play JOSEPHINE’S FEAST. This profound and potent new play is directed by legendary theatre artist Ellen Sebastian Chang. JOSEPHINE’S FEAST will now perform thru August 27, 2023 at the Magic Theatre’s Fort Mason location (Fort Mason, 2 Marina Boulevard, Building D, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94123). Tickets are available at:

*From the Writer Star Finch:* 

 I am interested in exploring the normalcy and constancy of menace as they pertain to the feminine. I am obsessed with power dynamics and the ways in which violence manifests within hierarchies of powerlessness, mostly because I can’t say that I’ve ever felt free in public space. My plays are layered collages of the surreal and sacred nature of our human experience. I use my work to split open seams of expectation by offering flashes of the horror and wonder veiled by the status quo. 

*From the Magic Theatre’s Lead Director Sean San José:* 

Star Finch is an artist, a leader, and a visionary. Campo Santo began working with Star more than a decade ago, and now she is our long time Playwright In Residence. Leading with Star and her writing keeps us connected to our cultural and ancestral roots, and manifests a healing future, civically and culturally. We need to not only reflect our world, but pose new ways to exist and evolve. Star's work does that. It challenges us in New ways: ways of narrating multi-generationally; ways of listening, where we hear from the inside of the issue, the “problems of the past” mixed with the “newness of the next.” We are excited by Star’s insistence that all collaborators center the Black community in her work and her inherent urge that we operate with a deeper integrity in our art-making. 


Star Finch plates for us a family dinner, but underneath that... a Black matriarch, on a verge that lights up the truth as she makes an audacious step into the future and foists her family into confronting change. An evening of legacy, spirituality, and growth set against the comedy and chaos of true-to-life family dynamics.  Legendary director Ellen Sebastian Chang and an all star cast bring this long in the works premiere from the one Star Finch, the Magic Theatre’s Playwright In Residence. Josephine’s Feast is a compelling new play that merges Afro-Surreal storytelling with the dynamics of Black families to explore gentrification and generation gaps. The play explores what it is to be a Black Woman - its definitions, identities, sexualities, and personal and political freedoms. Directed by maverick theatre director Ellen Sebastian Chang, Josephine’s Feast is an expansive view of the Black family that balances issues of legacy and spirituality and family dynamics with great humor.

Star Finch represents all that is excellent in the Bay Area. She is a bold Black woman writer in the Afro-Surrealist aesthetic. Soulful and hilariously human at the same time, Finch is fiercely committed to reaching for a sense of empowerment and freedom with her characters. Josephine’s Feast shows a complex and crafted picture of family onstage. The play follows a matriarch on the verge of a new future. The character, Jospehine, is ready to make an inspired and somewhat unknown change as she steps into the future. Directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, Josephine’s Feast is an expansive view of the Black family that causes us to embrace our own beliefs and desires. We are most inspired by the ambition for this project to place the Black Mother's Voice at the center as we encounter the history of Black cultural storytelling in San Francisco. Stories centered on the affirmative experiences of middle-aged women are rare. Women of a certain age are encouraged to disappear when, in fact, women are transforming into their best selves. Considering our intergenerational audience with many middle-aged, female-identified theatergoers, Josephine's Feast advances relatable stories that push the format of theater forward in bold, exciting ways. The show carries the tradition of the great American family drama-  a Magic Theater aesthetic dating to its early era premiering the works of Sam Shepard -  and moving it into 21st century Black life.

Josephine’s Feast features an all Black company of six, featuring the “the Queen of Theatre in the Bay”- Margo Hall - in the title role of Josephine. The cast includes multi-talented actors, directors, comedians, creators and many members of the Campo Santoperformance company including: Britney Frazier, Donald E. Lacy, Jr., Jasmine Milan Williams, and fellow actors Tierra Allen andTre’Vonne Bell. The design team is comprised of: Russell Champa, Tanya Orellana, Joan Osato, Lana Palmer, Brittany White, Kyo Yohena, with graphic design by Osige Creative; included in the Creative Collaborative team are: Dave Gardner, Leah Hamos, Christina Hogan, AeJay Marquis Mitchell, Lauren Quan, Christopher Sauceda. This project is a co-production with Home Resident Company Campo Santo; this is the first live premiere from Playwright In Residence Star Finch; and is part of Star’s prestigious Playwright Residency Program Award she was awarded from the Mellon Foundation / HowlRound Theatre Commons, awarded with Campo Santo and Crowded Fire Theater Company. This play is also a recipient of a 2023 National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Venturous Theatre Fund of the Tides Foundation. Josephine’s Feast runs approximately 95 minutes. 

This play follows the premiere of SIDE EFFECTS-  a “flay” a film/play created during Covid shut down, and previous Campo Santo premieres of Star’s works including: H.O.M.E. (HOOKERS ON MARS EVENTUALLY), BABYLON IS BURNING, ETHOS DE MASQUERADE.

This play is the third of the 2023 Performance Year at the Magic Theatre, following the deeply impactful premiere of Luis Alfaro’s The Travelers in February and March,and the wildly successful and bold premiere THE NI¿¿ER LOVERS by Marc Anthony Thompson. Both premieres enjoyed full runs and extended performances. The Magic Theatre production of The Travelers will be featured as part of Latino Theatre Company’s Fall 2023 season in Los Angeles this September. The programming for the calendar year 2023 will continue with more collaborative projects including a new performance piece Dugo, from our Lead Director Sean San José with Rachel Lastimosa, Tessa Nebrida, Joan Osato, and Saucy for SOMA Pilipinas; a new play from sister group Crowded Fire Theater Company Edit Annie; and the return of Resident Company Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s annual Soulful Christmas, and more.  

This World Premiere of Josephine’s Feast by Star Finch is a true highlight of a very potent and packed programming year that spans all 12 months of the 2023 year. These plays, artists, and collaborations are emblematic of the overall energy and ethos of the whole space and organization in this new era!

The rest of the offerings also include: Resident Curator DJ Wonway Posibul record release party of San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin’s concert album; monthly Indigenous Magic performance series from Resident Company TigerBear Productions; weekly Sunday Services from the legendary Saint John Coltrane Church; and our annual Magic Gala on August 10, and much more.

About Star Finch

Star Finch is a 2nd generation San Franciscan trying her best to hold ground amidst the erasure of gentrification. She is currently the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Campo Santo and Crowded Fire Theater. Star is the inaugural award winner of the Launch Award from Playwrights Foundation. She’s also an alumni of the Resident Playwrights Initiative (2018-2022) at Playwrights Foundation. Finch’s plays include H.O.M.E. [Hookers on Mars Eventually] and BONDAGE (Relentless Award honorable mention.) Her multidisciplinary collaborations include Campo Santo’s ETHOS DE MASQUERADE (with Global Street Dance Masquerade) and Crowded Fire’s DEATH BECOME LIFE (with Ensemble Mik Nawooj and AXIS Dance Company). Her play BONDAGE is published and available through Broadway Play Publishing Inc. The Feast was a ritual, performance gathering that Star conceived and curated as the first public act of her Mellon Residency with Crowded Fire Theater and Campo Santo. This performance gathering came out of and in response to being in COVID shut down- at that point- for more than a year and half. The event gathered 50 artists together outdoors to celebrate and come together through food and performance. In many ways, the component parts are instilled in this play Josephine’s Feast.

“As a Black woman who was born and raised in San Francisco, I always make an effort to use my work to speak to the numerous cultural threads woven into the tapestry we call the Black experience, specifically in relation to womanhood and/or femininity. The work is an attempt to celebrate and mirror a specific Black Woman’s experience in the midst of transition. This project seeks to say- Here is a celebration of our humor and rhythms. Let us gather and remind ourselves of the holiness of our elders and the brilliance of our youth.”

Included here is a link to the Magic Theatre Interview Series: Magic Talks, directed by Aidan Stone.

Star Finch talking with Sean San José:

About Ellen Sebastian Chang

Ellen Sebastian Chang is a director and writer. Through her art practices, she advocates for human rights as in her Creative Capital project, House/Full that documents sex trafficking in Oakland. Sebastian Chang was co-founder and artistic director of LIFE ON THE WATER, a national and internationally known presenting and producing organization at Fort Mason Center from 1986 through 1995. In 2015 she collaborated with  artist Maya Gurantz to create A Hole in Space (Oakland Redux), an underground public art project. Her 1982 directorial/ writing debut Your Place Is No Longer With Us created in a Victorian mansion, served to the audience a meal of black-eyed peas, mustard greens and cornbread at the performance’s end.  Amid work on her artistic practice, she owned and operated FuseBOX Restaurant in West Oakland until 2017 when the restaurant closed.  Ellen is a storied figure in the performing arts, as a director and arts educator whose career spans 45 years. Her above mentioned project is an historic work- the ongoing collaboration with AfroFuturist Conjure artist Amara Tabor Smith and the Deep Waters Dance company’s House/Full of BlackWomen, the project closed its near decade long journey of one of a kind gathering ritual performances. It is now a special podcast series, co-produced by Ellen with the award winning Kitchen Sisters.

She has worked as an arts educator for over 40 years: with technical direction/design classes at the Urban School of San Francisco, Magic Theater’s Young California Writer’s Program, as an artist in Bay Area Public Schools via Young Audiences of Northern California and for the past 15 years with The World as it Could Be Human Rights Education Arts Program. In recent years she has collaborated on  the HBO production Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley; Sunhui Chang and Maya Gurantz How to Fall in Love in A Brothel; Campo Santo and Ben Fisher’s play Candlestick. 

She is a recipient of awards and grants from Creative Capital, MAP Fund, A Blade of Grass Fellowship in Social Engagement, Art Matters, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, NEA, Creative Work Fund, California Arts Council,  Mazza Foundation and  Zellerbach Community Arts Fund. Ellen is a legend in Bay Area Theatre history from Blake Street Hawkeyes; to maverick work creating with and directing Whoopi Goldberg; to co-founding the avant garde arts space Life On The Water at Fort Mason; to restauranteering; to continuing to reshape the performance world. Back at the Magic Theatre after becoming the FIRST Black Director in 1993!; to working again with Campo Santo since directing the premiere of Bennett Fisher’s Candlestick in 2019.  She and her husband Sunhui Chang are part of the current Magic Theatre Residency Program and will premiere a new play written by Sunhui, directed by Ellen in 2025- The Boiling.

About Margo Hall

Margo Hall is an award winning actor, director, activist, educator, and recently appointed Artistic Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (LHT). She has graced Bay Area stages for 30 years as a performer and director. She appeared in the hit film BLINDSPOTTINGwith our own Oakland native Daveed Diggs and All Day and a Night on Netflix, and is a series regular on the television series Blindspotting on Starz Network. Margo just completed an extended run of the first play she commissioned and produced as Artistic Director of LHT. It is Hall’s mission for LHT to focus on Black Women playwrights, and the recent hit In the Evening by the Moonlight, is the first of this new direction. The play written by Traci Tolmaire and co-created by Margo just closed a successful run at the Magic Theatre. Prior to that, during Covid shutdown, Hall directed a filmed version of the play {hieroglyph} by award-winning writer Erika Dickerson-Dispenza for LHT and SF Playhouse. She previously directed Barbecue (which she also starred in) also for SF Playhouse. Other acting credits include: Marin Theater Company- JAZZ, Skeleton Crew, Gem of the Ocean, Fences and Seven Guitars. California Shakespeare Theater- Good Person of Szechwan, Black Odyssey, Fences, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Raisin in the Sun, A Winter’s Tale, American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose and SPUNK. American Conservatory Theater- Ah, Wilderness!, Once in a Lifetime and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet. Aurora Theater- Exit Strategy, Trouble in Mind. Her writing credits include The People’s Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the Glickman award for Best New Play in the Bay Area for 2005, and, Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, a semi-autobiographical piece she also starred in at Z Space, featuring the Marcus Shelby 15 piece Orchestra. She is a founding member of Campo Santo, and has directed, performed, and collaborated on several new plays with artists such as Naomi Iizuka, Phillip Kan Gotanda, Octavio Solis, Luis Saguar, and Jessica Hagedorn. She is also a professor at UC Berkeley and Chabot College in the Theater Department. Margo was one of the four Inaugural recipients for the prestigious Rainin / USA artist fellowship. This project reunites Margo with director Sebastian Chang after first collaborating - at the Magic Theatre- in 1993!

About Campo Santo

Founded in 1996, Campo Santo is an award-winning new performances group by and for People of Color, committed to developing and premiering new performance works and to nurturing diverse new audiences for the performing arts. Our longer-term goal is to model a way to generate new communities of theatre participants, creators, audiences and more- rather than singular experiences. Working in this process and model has allowed us to have a diverse and dynamic audience and family of collaborators throughout our 25+ year existence. We have developed and premiered more than 100 World Premieres pieces with a wide range of writers including Luis Alfaro, Junot Diaz, Jessica Hagedorn, Naomi Iizuka, Denis Johnson, Richard Montoya, and Ntozake Shange, to name a few, and nurturing the first works of writers Sharif Abu-Hamdeh, Dave Eggers, Star Finch,Chinaka Hodge, Dennis Kim, and Luis Saguar. We have a new home, as the first Home Resident Company of the Magic Theatre, giving us a community base again after orbiting with residencies and collaborations since our long-term residency dissolved after 15 years with Intersection for the Arts (who remain our fiscal sponsor.)  

About the Magic Theatre

Since the company’s founding in 1967 by visionary John Lion, the Magic Theatre has identified and cultivated writers on the cutting edge of American theatre, serving as a vital center for the creation and performance of new American plays. Sam Shepard developed and premiered his Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child, True West, and Fool for Love during his decade-long Magic residency (1974-84), forever altering the shape of American drama. 

The Magic Theatre has entered a new Golden Age with the appointment of Sean San José as the new Artistic Director in June, 2021. With this new leadership, we are dedicated to making the Magic Theatre a home to more people by rightfully centering People of Color throughout the organization. While continuing to premiere bold and new plays as it has done for 55 years, we have expanded the vision with these new Programs: new Residency Program- which includes Home Resident Company Campo Santo, the historic Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (Artistic Director Margo Hall), along with Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience (Co-Artistic Directors Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe and Rotimi Agbabiaka), Ellen Sebastian Chang/ Sunhui Chang, Saint John Coltrane Church, TigerBear Productions, and the incoming Play On! Shakespeare; new Performances Program, telling theatrical stories in dance, poetry, and music led by San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin; and Resident Artists, highlighted by Playwright In Residence Star Finch and Resident Curator Juan Amador, and designers Russell Champa, Tanya Orellana, Joan Osato, Christopher Sauceda, and Brittany White. In addition to the new Leadership Team and Staff (Daniel Duque-Estrada, Michael Ferrell, Brechin Flournoy, Stephanie Holmes, Sara Huddleston, Kevin Nelson, Sean San José, Christopher Sauceda, Liam Vincent), we have energetically, artistically, and aesthetically shifted the whole space in ethos and activation, a redesign of the spaces (lobby, cathedral, and theatres) including multiple wall sized murals by local artists Mister Bouncer (Miguel Perez), Cece Carpio from the Trust Your Struggle collective, Adrian Arias, Ka’ala, and a space filled with legendary Black art from the Saint John Coltrane Church by Emory Douglas, Mark Roman, andDeacon Mark Doox. The space is open year round for engagement and entertainment, arts and activation from the plays to the people- the Magic Theatre is Home for bringing the City inside.

The Magic Theatre is located in the Marina District of San Francisco, at the historic Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94123). For more information, visit or call the box office at (415) 441-8822. The performance schedule is Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm.


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