Department of English

Professor James Magnuson's play kicks off annual New York theater festival

Thu, August 5, 2010

Professor James Magnuson helped New York’s Lincoln Center kick off its annual Out of Doors season on July 28 with a presentation of his play, No Snakes in This Grass, and a special opening night talk.

Professor Magnuson’s play, a “classic one-act of street theater from the Civil Rights movement,” reimagines the Fall of Man in a modern-day Garden of Eden. When a well-informed Adam, fig leaf in his cap and Bible under his arm, appears in the Garden, he tells God he’s determined to do things right this time—send Cain and Abel to different schools, prepare the boats for the Flood, etc. But Adam’s confrontation with a black Eve puts his plans in jeopardy, in what Professor Magnuson called “a new and frighteningly modern twist [on] the concept of original sin.”

Preceding the play, Professor Magnuson participated in a talk commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors. The three-week summer series, one of the world’s largest free festivals featuring music, dance, and theater, evolved from the comparatively small Everyman-Community Street Theater Festival. Along with director Mical Whitaker, producer Shirley Radcliffe, and Susan Scheftel, daughter of Everyman Theater founder Geraldine Fitzgerald, Professor Magnuson discussed the origins of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

James Magnuson is a Professor in the English Department.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1964. His recent publications include the novels The Hounds of Winter (2005), Windfall (1999), and Ghost Dancing (1989). He published No Snakes in This Grass in 1968.

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