"Ed Wilson has educated more people about the theatre than Stella Adler, Lee
Strasberg, and Uta Hagen combined. Through his books, lectures, and reviews,
Wilson has enthused generations into the limelight and enlightened the mysterious
darkness that surrounds the stage. Now comes afoot Wilson's own drama, the
picaresque memoirs of a young man who charms the fates and doubles down on
every break to become one of America's leading men behind the scenes. Reading
Magic Time is like joining a grand weekend house party where one's fellow
guests amuse themselves writing, directing, producing and reviewing a great
- Glenn Young: Word Doctor, and Founder of Applause Books
"In Magic Time, Edwin Wilson chronicles the joys of a life well-lived in the theater.
By turns captivating and informative, this compelling memoir demonstrates why
Wilson remains in my experience the most inspiring playwriting teacher I had the
good fortune to encounter."
- John Guare, author of The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation,
Landscape of the Body; Theatre Hall of Fame
"I have had many memorable nights, together with Ed Wilson. Congratulations
on that Magic Time. And thanks for the memories, all in one book!"
- Pia Lindstrom, Emmy winning TV theatre critic
A wonderfully engaging journey through the glory days of the theatre by someone
who saw it all. Ed Wilson has carved out a unique path as memorialist of the art
- Molly Haskell, Film critic, author of From Reverence to Rape, Gone with
the Wind Revisited, My Brother My Sister
"Grab a front row ticket to Wilson's engaging, colorful career in the theater-as a
noted director, revered teacher, distinguished playwright and esteemed critic. Go
backstage and savor a rare glimpse into the glamour and glitz of many of Broadway's
legendary stars and playwrights. Raise the curtain and let the show begin . . .
It's magic time, indeed!"
-Adam Van Doren, artist, writer, author of An Artist in Venice, Homes of
A critic's expansive take on modern American theater.
From more than 50 years of experience as a playwright, teacher, director, and critic, Wilson has much to offer readers who care about the theater in the U.S. As a young man in the early 1950s, the author appeared headed to a career with a small coffee company in Nashville. But New York theater junkets with his parents to see landmark plays—e.g., Death of a Salesman, A Streetcar Named Desire, Oklahoma!—had planted the idea of becoming a playwright. In 1954, that pursuit sent him to the Yale School of Drama, where, eventually, he earned a doctorate. George Bernard Shaw’s essays on Shakespeare, which Wilson researched for his dissertation, shaped his straightforward, lucid prose style, much in evidence here. After graduation, the author taught at Hofstra while also assisting a Broadway producer. The latter work found him working for British stage director Peter Brook in helming a film adaptation of Lord of the Flies. The film’s failure prompts Wilson’s illuminating observations on fundamental differences between film and theater, which he feels Brook couldn’t bridge. A brief stint teaching playwriting at Yale followed by a long tenure at Hunter College teaching theater yielded a text, The Theatre Experience (1976), that remains in print today. A golf outing with a Wall Street Journal writer eventually led to Wilson’s 23-year career as the paper’s theater critic. The assignment afforded him a look at what may have been the modern American theater’s final flowering, as evoked in Wilson’s articulate, entertaining reviews of stellar productions such as The Elephant Man, A Little Night Music, A Chorus Line, and many more. Now in his 90s, the author laments Broadway’s current state, with theatregoers “dressed as if they were about to go into a picnic” while herded “like refugees” to see jukebox musicals and Disney spectacles. Magic time in American theater, it seems, has vanished.
A fifth-row center seat for a perceptive look at a vital time on the Broadway boards.