Magis Greatest Hits

celebrating fifteen years of Magis Theatre Off-Broadway

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Magis’ Greatest  Hits  Gala   

a reflection by

Magis Board Co-Chair

Kristin Whiting

Our 15th anniversary celebration, Magis’ Greatest Hits Gala, "Vintage Magis"was a huge success and a marvelous time! The party kicked off with a glass of Cava, while George Drance, Magis Theatre Company’s co-founder and Artistic Director, welcomed the crowd and sketched out the evening’s festivities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the last two years, the chance to come together to enjoy thought provoking and thoroughly entertaining theater and a hands-on wine lesson, was incredibly special. John Breen, company manager of the Magis Theater Company described it best: it was a night “sprinkled with fairy dust.”  

 

Our sommelier, Stefani Jackenthal, presented the wines selected for the tastings. A collection of wine inspired by and paired with highlighted scenes from productions we’ve mounted over our 15 year history. Jackenthal led us through an insightful, rollicking and wise-cracking wine ride and then got pouring.

With tastings in hand, George expertly led the group through Magis’ Greatest Hits. Our guests were captivated watching the inspired performances by the talented members of the Magis Theatre Company as they took to the stage in scenes from our most beloved productions.

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Browsing the unique offerings up for bid in our Silent Auction, socializing and more wine tasting followed.  So did, the hearty and delicious dinner, generously donated by our friend Mary O'Halloran of Mary O's,

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We’ve presented many rare works in our 15 years as a company.

From small one-person shows like the critically acclaimed, "*mark" and "Miracle In Rwanda," to unique presentations of some of the world’s classics – an adaption of a brilliant Thornton Wilder play based on a Greek tragedy, "The Alcestiad;" an ancient Sanskrit play about a dramatic love affair entitled "Shakuntala and the Ring of Recognition;" a deep reflection on the nature of heaven and hell in "The Great Divorce," by famed writer C.S. Lewis (scroll down for our look back at this one). Each production is carefully selected to explore the universal theme of the human experience. And as the above list exemplifies, Magis is definitely not afraid to take risks! As diverse as the programming is, the thread through much of these chosen works contains a universal theme - our humanity and the love, loss, faith, purpose, and the multitude of shared experiences we have as humans, no matter when or how we live. 

Calderon's Two Dreams  2017

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A  reflection by Erica Obert-Male,

Co-Chairperson, Magis Theatre Company, Board of Directors

Look back at our February 2017 performance of "Calderon’s Two Dreams," mounted in association with La MaMa, New York City's renowned experimental theater. The production was a unique opportunity to experience two versions of the play

"Life is a Dream,"

originally written around 1635, by famed playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca, referred to by many scholars as the “Spanish Shakespeare.”

 

Theatergoers were asked to ponder the universal themes of free will, fate, and honor, presented from two distinct points of view and written 42 years apart. The first version through the lens of a young man in his 30s and the second re-examined through the eyes of an older, wiser man. Directed by George Drance and Kelly Johnston, performances ran at The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa. And just like fine wine, we feel the works get richer with age.

 

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The Great Divorce

2007

a reflection by 

Ralph Martin, Magis Theatre Company, Board of Directors

One of the most well-received productions of the 2007 Off-Broadway season

was The Magis Theatre Company’s adaptation of C.S Lewis’ fantasy novel

The Great Divorce.

 

Lewis’ book, published in 1945, presented a dream vision in which a narrator,

finding himself in a cold, bleak and colorless city, encounters a crowd of people

waiting at a bus stop. They argue among themselves, even as they anticipate

transportation to a better place; but when the bus finally arrives, it is only those actually allowing themselves to board it — many do not — who realize that the vehicle is a conveyance to a richly illuminated other world, accessible to anyone who will abandon their habits of anger, guilt and sorrow.

 

On this journey, the narrator also encounters the spirit of George MacDonald

(prominent 19th century author and liberal Congregationalist theologian, who,

as one of the early innovators of speculative fiction, greatly influenced many

writers, including Lewis Carroll, J.R.R.Tolkien, and J.M.Barrie, as well as, in a

profound way, C.S. Lewis himself). In the story, MacDonald’s spirit lovingly

elucidates a doctrine of universal reconciliation, and the certain belief that divine love is available to all who will but accept the availability of joy and atonement. MacDonald also points out to the narrator that he should make clear, in relating his experience, that the teaching has been given to him in a dream.

 

Of course, dream visions are fine raw material for theater, and in the case

of the Magis adaptation of The Great Divorce, performed at the Salvation Army

Theater on West 47th Street, the richness of Elizabeth Swados’ music and the

delightful transport of Ralph Lee’s puppetry, along with the enthusiasm and

cohesion of its ensemble of performers, contributed to the audience’s memorable experience of awe and inspiration. There were many who came to see the show several times, and who brought their friends too...