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She’s no Max Bialystock, but for several weeks Jill Matichak got to live the life of a producer. A partner at O’Melveny & Myers’ San Francisco office, Matichak recently produced “The Tape” at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. The play, which ended its run at the theater last week, focuses on the reunion of three high school friends. “Being a producer was a window on the artistic process I couldn’t have gotten another way,” Matichak said. She participated in readings, offered advice on stage blocking and hairstyles, and turned over her home for the filming of a video that was initially part of the play. Matichak was intrigued by how different the theater is from the legal realm. “It’s interesting to watch their process, which is so different than being a lawyer,” Matichak said. “A lawyer brings a certain amount of dispassion to a situation. You distance yourself to understand motivations and how you can help.” By contrast, she said, actors evoke “a great deal of passion” to present the emotional arc and themes of a play to the audience. A member of the Magic Theatre’s board for the past four years, Matichak has an affinity for the stage. She acted in and directed several plays in high school and at one time considered pursuing a career in theater. But, she felt drawn to the legal profession early on, and even wrote a senior thesis on how she could use her training as an actor in the practice of law. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1980, Matichak began her career at Los Angeles’ Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara & Samuelian. Four years later she jumped to O’Melveny and, in 1992, moved to the firm’s San Francisco office. A transactional lawyer, she represents banks and financial institutions in financings, restructurings, private placements and various other deals. In addition to her stint at producing, Matichak has helped the Magic Theatre with contracts and fund raising, and she hopes to put together an endowment for the commission of new works. Founded in 1967, the theater is known for producing the plays of new contemporary writers. It also has produced several plays by Sam Shepard, who is the theater’s playwright in residence. His play “The Late Henry Moss” premiered at the theater two years ago, starring Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn and Cheech Marin. “It was the theatrical event of the season,” Matichak said. “There was an enormous line around the ticket booth the day tickets went on sale.” “The Tape” also has captured Hollywood’s attention. A film version was recently released starring Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. The director of the Magic Theatre’s production tried a novel approach to presenting the story. She filmed a video — supposedly shot by one of the characters in the play — at Matichak’s house. It was intended to be a prologue and epilogue to the play but was only used for the first performance. The taping gave Matichak a first-hand view of the acting and editing process. Amazed at the actors’ ability to disappear into another character, Matichak said she asked actor Jessica Turner what she learned as a student at the American Conservatory Theater. “We learn two things,” Turner told Maticak. “To get rid of our habits and to listen.” Matichak thinks that’s sound advice for a lawyer, too. “In law, in theater, in life, what someone says is not always what they mean,” she said.

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