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From Stage to Screen—Tips to Remember for On-Camera Acting

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by A.C.T. Conservatory Staff At the A.C.T. Conservatory, we seek to develop the artist in every actor and prepare them to succeed in all aspects of the profession, including acting in film and on television. Whether on stage or screen, acting is about conveying the emotional truth of the character, but the change in medium requires some adjustments. Below, actor Warren David Keith—who also directs and teaches at A.C.T.’s Summer Training Congress—shares some tips for stage actors looking to translate their skills on camera. Warren David Keith 1) The distance of communication has changed. The back row of the theater may be 20 feet or hundreds of feet. It might be the Aurora or the second balcony of the Geary Theater, but that is the distance that the theater actor must bridge. On film it is only the distance to the lens and to the microphone. 2) Performance and experience. In the theater you must render a performance in order to be seen and heard in the furthest seat. The camera detects

Five Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Actor Training

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By Peter J. Kuo A.C.T.’s Director of the Conservatory, Peter J. Kuo, offers these five tips to actors who are thinking about engaging in any form of rigorous or intensive training. Whether it’s for two weeks or five years, these tips may help you get the best out of your actor training. Peter J. Kuo 1. Take Advantage of Access to Opportunity When you join an extensive training program, you gain access. Reach out to staff members you’re interested in chatting with, see if you can sit in on other classes, try to grab coffee/tea with an artist or faculty member that you’re not working with but want to get to know. See if there are jobs or volunteer opportunities, or investigate the library and archives. The worst anyone can say is “no.” And a “yes” can open up access to so much opportunity! 2. Learn How to Take and Decipher Feedback Not all teachers are the best communicators, but they have knowledge, information, and insight you’re seeking. Learn to take the feedback you are given, proce

To Inspire, Lift, and Liberate—the Enduring Vision of Alice Childress

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By Arminda Thomas   Announcing her death in 1994, the New York Times headline read, “Alice Childress, 77, a Novelist,” though the full obituary allowed that she also wrote some plays. While Childress would likely have objected to that order, having devoted the bulk of her life to playwriting, the paper of record’s choice is understandable. As a playwright, Childress’s story is more difficult to measure: hers was a progressive voice too often hemmed in by anxious, benighted producers; a mainstage talent shoehorned into black box realities. Alice Childress. Photo courtesy of Arminda Thomas. The story began, promisingly enough, at a little Harlem theater with a big mission, the American Negro Theatre—a company so hardworking members called themselves the ANTs, and were expected to function as actors, directors, designers, and box office managers. "The American Negro Theatre Company," Childress recalled, "worked ten years without salary, four nights per week, keeping the sa

For the Heart of Frisco—Downtown High School Exhibition Goes Viral

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By Livian Yeh   On December 10 and 11, 2020, students from San Francisco’s Downtown High School performed an hour-long exhibition of original works, created with their teachers Charmaine Shuford and Robert Coverdell, A.C.T. teaching artist Carlos Aguirre, with classroom support from Sabrina Belara and Bianca Fernandez, and in collaboration with the writing staff and tutors from 826 Valencia.  The performance, titled For the Heart of Frisco , was the final presentation of the Acting for Critical Transformations Project at Downtown High School. Students wrote, directed, and acted in monologues and short plays about gentrification and activism in the city. In Eulogy to San Francisco , the class held a candlelight vigil for their city, which has long ceased to be affordable and equitable. This Trend Cannot Continue focused on painful truths about the cost of living here: the rent has gone up $2,400 in 24 years, and landlords raise the rent by 2.6% every year. In Kimberly’s Play , a group

Evocation, Inspiration, and Ignition—A.C.T.’s Blood Wedding Brings the Spirit of Duende to Life

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by A.C.T. Publications Staff The spirit of duende , the Spanish term for passion and inspiration, is central to the works of Federico García Lorca. For A.C.T.'s production of Lorca's  Blood Wedding , director Christine Adaire and actor Hernán Angulo share their interpretation of duende , and how it influenced their production. Federico García Lorca (courtesy of Wikipedia) Federico García Lorca was obsessed by the spirit of Duende . Duende is one of the most elusive words in the Spanish language. Literally, it means “ghost” or “goblin.” In art, particularly drama, dance, and the music of Flamenco, it refers to the powerful energy emitted by a performer to captivate the audience. Lorca gave a lecture in Buenos Aires in 1933 in which he described duende as “a force, not a labor, a struggle, not a thought,” “the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire we all know,” and “a creature who sweep[s] the earth with its wings of rusty knives.” It is not based in reason or the intellect,

The Evolution of a Holiday Classic: A Christmas Carol at A.C.T. Part Two

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By Michael Paller * This article originally appeared on Inside A.C.T. in 2016.  By 2004,  A Christmas Carol  was 28 years old, and the sets were showing their age. A significant investment would be required to refurbish them, which set Artistic Director Carey Perloff to thinking.  Carol  had more than served its purpose since 1976. Every year but 1994 and 1995, when the production was put on hiatus until The Geary reopened, many young Bay Area children—and parents—had their first theater experience watching Bill Paterson, Sydney Walker, Raye Birk, or Ken Ruta awake on Christmas morning a changed man. Now, however, Perloff wanted  Carol  to serve an additional purpose, featuring parts for students in the Young Conservatory, and roles for actors in M.F.A. Program who could add the mainstage experience toward earning their Actors’ Equity union card. A.C.T.'s 2009 production of  A Christmas Carol . From the left:  Ren é Augesen, Gregory Wallace, James Carpenter, Calum John, and Philip