If You Must

Tickets Now Available! (Click here)

July 30 & 31 at 7:30pm, Aug 1 at 7:30 and 9 PM

Tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door


The Cardboard Sea proudly presents the premiere of Jeff Donnelly’s “If You Must” at the Magnetic Theatre.

Jeff Donnelly and Todd Weakley have collaborated since 1994. Many of their projects include work with The Redundant Theatre Company Theatre, where Weakley was a founding member. Influenced by theatrical pioneers like Sam Shepard and Tennessee Williams, with a healthy dose of the cinematic, Quentin Tarantino, playwright, Jeff Donnelly has crafted a body of work that invites audiences into the intimate and volatile experience of live performance. As for Todd Weakley, Bertolt Brecht, Joint Stock Company, and modern ensembles like Pig Iron Theatre, Rude Mechanicals, and Missoula Oblongata have led the way.

A commitment to the transformative nature of live performance, a belief in the collaborative process, and a magnetic obsession for storytelling, The Cardboard Sea seeks to activate, engage, surprise, and provoke audiences into new and challenging territory.

“If You Must” is The Cardboard Sea’s first production. The play is a dark comedy that examines the way our personal histories define and destroy us.

“It is an exciting story, and we have a crazy good cast,” says Weakley who will serve as director. “Our vision is a theatre founded in the question of ‘what is theatre?’ Why is this event a play? Why is it not a novel or movie? What makes it absolutely necessary?”

“There is something beautiful about the live experience of a play. Something that demands attention in ways that other media cannot replicate,” says Donnelly.

Local actress and company member Lauren Williams adds, “What we are saying is that we are breathing the same space, dealing with the same issues. We don’t have answers for you. We just want to present and enjoy the questions with you.”

“If You Must” focuses on three characters, all in their mid twenties, Alex, Jordan, and Casey. Late one summer evening, they wait in a park for a new day to dawn. In this public space, they discover the lies that hold them together and the layers of truth that inevitably pull them apart.

“It is a haunting story, but one I think audiences will engage with and be moved by,” says Weakley.

The Cardboard Sea is dedicated to the transformative nature of the theatrical event for both audience and actor. We aim to: produce works of social significance, highlight the constructed nature of the theatrical event, and provoke self-reflection and critical perspectives of onstage action.


“It is only a paper moon

Sailing over a cardboard sea

But it wouldn’t be make-believe

If you believed in me”

The Magnetic Takes New York!

After two successful runs in its home base of Asheville, The Magnetic Theatre will bring #OUCH! to the 19th annual New York International Fringe Festival August 21-29.

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screenshot-dochub.com 2015-07-29 21-35-44Maryedith Burrell, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter and performer best known for her stints on Seinfeld, Parenthood, Fridays, and SNL, returns to the New York stage in her own #OUCH! (An Accidental Comedy), a hilarious and harrowing one-woman show about the trials and tribulations of modern health care. Jeff Messer, of Asheville’s 880therevolution and the Mountain Xpress, calls #OUCH! “A winner...brutally honest...riotously funny...deeply insightful...a major win for The Magnetic Theatre,” and concludes, “I can't recommend it enough!”

After two successful runs in its home base of Asheville, The Magnetic Theatre will bring #OUCH! to the 19th annual New York International Fringe Festival August 21-29. Acceptance into FringeNYC is extremely competitive, and The Magnetic Theatre is proud that #OUCH! will represent the company’s third appearance in this prestigious festival—a rare accomplishment. (The Magnetic’s first turn in FringeNYC, John Crutchfield’s The Songs of Robert, directed by #OUCH!’s Steven Samuels, took home a solo performance award in 2009.)

Produced and directed by Magnetic Theatre Artistic Director Steven Samuels, formerly of New York’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company and Washington, DC’s Arena Stage, #OUCH! features incredible sound, visual, and animation design by Tommy Calloway of Asheville’s Feral Chihuahuas and Tommy Gun Productions.

Maryedith Burrell, a comedienne with a pedigree that includes work with Steve Martin, Larry David, Robin Williams, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, and innumerable others, began her career improvising with The Groundlings and Second City. She has since gone on to star in five TV series and to guest star on countless others, including The Tonight Show. Along with a successful acting career, Ms. Burrell is also a screenwriter and author. As a screenwriter, she has worked with everybody from Ron Howard and Francis Coppola to Tim Burton, Disney, and Pixar. Her essays have been published by St. Martin’s Press, and she penned a humorous web column, Ms.Biz, for American Express. She moved to Asheville several years ago for the “beer and the BBQ” and stayed to get a Masters from UNCA and to teach screenwriting at NYS3. She credits the Asheville scene with “getting the funny flowing” and describes her show as “short, smart, and gluten free.”

Tickets available online on July 17 at www.fringenyc.org. #OUCH! plays Venue #11 (64E4 Mainstage) Friday 8/21 @ 5:15 PM, Saturday 8/22 @ 2:45 PM, Monday 8/24 @ 7:00 PM, Wednesday 8/26 @ 3:15 PM, & Saturday 8/29 @ 7:00 PM.

Magnetic Midnight Returns!

MM 2015


Once upon a time, when The Magnetic Theatre had its first home, it presented a monthly event, Magnetic Midnight, that was special to the company and to audiences alike. Based on the nationally popular “No Shame Theatre,” but freely modifying the format, Magnetic Midnight billed itself as “a magical, mysterious” evening “in which the best of The Magnetic Theatre meets the best of you!”

The notion was that company members, selected guests, and the general public were invited to present works in any genre of the performing arts—comedy or dramatic sketches and monologues, songs, rants, dance pieces, juggling, puppetry, genre-fluid performance art, or what you will—with only two restrictions: the works had to be no longer than five minutes in length, and they had to be original.

The hope was not only that an audience would enjoy a fantastic variety show, but that writers, actors, directors, musicians, dancers, and what have you, would have a chance to introduce themselves to The Magnetic in a setting more favorable than a standard audition. It was also intended as a way for playwrights to try out new material, with the intention of developing work for future presentation (as happened with Jim Julien’s smash hit The Caro Savanti Experience and John Crutchfield’s upcoming The Jacob Higginbotham Show).

Now established in its new home, Magnetic 375, The Magnetic Theatre brings back Magnetic Midnight Friday, August 7 (additional dates to be announced). Co-hosted by The Magnetic’s artistic director Steven Samuels and the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival’s co-director Jim Julien, this unique show will feature the first ten short original pieces to appear when the doors open at 9:30 PM (and some surprises). Actors and directors interested in participating should also arrive around 9:30, because sketches will be cast and assigned directors, and rehearsed until showtime. The show proper begins at 10:30 and runs till approximately midnight, and the general public is heartily invited to enjoy the Participants and audience members pay $5 admission at the door for the cheapest and wildest fun you can have legally in Asheville. Join us, grab a refreshing beverage, and prepare yourself for the creative spectacle that was and will forever be Magnetic Midnight!


Discount previews Thursday & Friday, August 20 & 21, @ 7:30 PM, $12 in advance/$15 at the door (tax and fees included).

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Performances Thursday-Saturday, August 22-September 12, @ 7:30 PM, $18 in advance/$21 at the door (tax and fees included).

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Higginbotham (hi res)



Not since his award-winning one-man lyric-drama, The Songs of Robert, has writer and performer John Crutchfield held himself up to public ridicule with such brave and solitary determination. His latest solo play, The Jacob Higginbotham Show, is set in our very own Asheville (or, at least, in somebody's Asheville), and tells the story of a strange little man “of a certain age” who has the bizarre habit of making spontaneous marriage proposals. These are universally rejected, of course, “until one day...”

Since 2009, audiences of the erstwhile No Shame Theatre at NC Stage, of Magnetic Midnight at The Magnetic Theatre, of the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, and of the Juniper Bends Reading Series at Downtown Books and News have been tantalized by glimpses of Higginbotham as a work-in-progress. Now, the completed play will have its long-awaited world premiere in a Magnetic Theatre production, directed by and starring the playwright. It had better be good.

Working with sound designer and d.j. Mary Zogzas, and drawing on his own extensive experience as poet, musician, dancer, and abuser of home furnishings, Crutchfield creates a world that is at once magical and harrowing, beautiful and strange, and finally, very, very awkward.Cruthfield’s previous productions by The Magnetic Theatre include Ruth; The Labyrinth; Solstice; The Strange and Tragical Adventures of Pinocchio, or Why Didn’t I Just Stay a Damn Puppet?, and The Songs of Robert and Landscape with Missing Person, both of which were also produced by The Magnetic Theatre in The New York International Fringe Festival, in 2009 and 2013, respectively.