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Groundhog Week

December 30, 2008

A week ago or so, I posted a blog entry about Shakespeare Santa Cruz. The coastal Shakespeare Festival was faced with raising $300,000 within a few days or face ceasing operations immediately.

Today, I'm sending out another SOS, this time for another venerable Northern California theatre company -- the Magic Theatre. Here is the ultimatum as expressed in the distressed company's cry-for-help email: "Now in the midst of a staff shutdown, Magic may be forced to cancel the remainder of its season and close for good. To keep our doors open we must raise $350,000 by January 9, 2009. This will allow us to bring back our staff, go on with our season, and remain responsible to our creditors."

It's interesting that both of these organizations recently acquired new artistic directors among much media hooplah and the announcement of Bold New Artistic Horizons. I wonder how much information Marco Barriccelli, who joined Shakespeare Santa Cruz a year ago, and Loretta Greco, who arrived at The Magic in the summer, knew about the financial situations of their respective organizations when they signed their artistic director contracts? Were they kept in the dark, at least to some degree, about the bareness of the theatres' coffers when they signed on? Or did they somehow imagine that the red marks on the accounting ledgers would miraculously disappear in the wake of high quality productions, euphoric reviews and packed houses?

I ask, because no one in their right mind would uproot their lives from the East Coast as both of these highly-regarded directors did and travel across the country to watch their professional lives take this kind of wretched turn.

Thankfully, Shakespeare Santa Cruz has earned a reprieve, thanks to the donations of more than 2,000 individuals who answered the company's call-to-arms. I'm certain that the Magic will also be able to stave off the Grim Reaper. No one wants to see this seminal 42-year-old company disappear.

My heart goes out to Greco and her staff. Here's hoping the Magic's new and highly talented artistic director isn't forced to pack up and head back East anytime soon.

If you want to donate to the Magic's emergency campaign, click here.

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