Posts

Barrier Breakers in Sports

Image
By A.C.T. Publications Staff
You still have the opportunity to watch Toni Stone from the comfort of your home. Those who have purchased tickets to Toni Stone will receive an email with access to the recording. If you missed your chance to purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/ACTStreaming to see our video streaming options, available for a limited time.
Toni Stone was the first woman to play professional baseball with men. Her contributions to the sports industry were supported by many who broke barriers before her, just as she paved the way for those who came after. Here we note some outstanding athletes whose dedication and perseverance overcame prejudice. Their efforts on and off the field continue to create a fairer and more diverse sporting community.

Baseball player Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro League. Photo courtesy of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Tidye Pickett
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Born: November 3, 1914
Known For: First Black American woma…

Fight Director Danielle O’Dea on Gloria

Image
By Claire L. Wong

You still have the opportunity to watch Gloria from the comfort of your home. Those who have purchased tickets to Gloria will receive an email with access to the recording. If you missed your chance to purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/ACTStreaming to see our video streaming options, available for a limited time.

To tell the best story, you’ve got to be open to discovery. It’s something Gloria Fight Director Danielle O’Dea always keeps in mind when working on a production. With over 15 years’ experience as a fight director and stage combat instructor, her work in the Bay Area includes A.C.T., San Francisco Opera, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Her background in martial arts, strength athletics, motion capture, and stunts provide her with diverse ways to communicate her fights. Whether she’s choreographing and teaching stage combat to seasoned actors or emerging performers, O’Dea emphasizes safety, partnering, and communication. We caught up …

Choreographer Camille A. Brown on Toni Stone

Image
By Claire L. Wong

You still have the opportunity to watch Toni Stone from the comfort of your home. Those who have purchased tickets to Toni Stone will receive an email with access to the recording. If you missed your chance to purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/ACTStreaming to see our video streaming options, available for a limited time.

A.C.T.’s Toni Stone choreographer Camille A. Brown is always reaching. She’s never giving up, and her rapidly expanding body of work proves it. The award-winning choreographer, director, and dance educator’s driving passion is to empower Black bodies to tell their stories in their own languages through movement and dialogue. The New York Times has called her “one of the most expressive, genuine and deeply felt choreographers working today.” Whether she’s exploring ancestral stories and sparking conversations with her dance company Camille A. Brown and Dancers, or choreographing Broadway productions such as Choir Boy, Once on This Island, and A Streetcar …

The Negro Leagues: Toni Stone in Historical Context

Image
By A.C.T. Publications Staff

Have you ever heard of the New York Black Yankees? What about the Homestead Grays, Baltimore Black Barons, or Cincinnati Tigers? From the 1880s until the 1950s, there were two professional baseball systems in the United States: one for white players, and another for Black Americans. Both contributed to the development of the modern game and baseball industry. This year, 2020, marks the centennial of the Negro Leagues, which was founded by Andrew “Rube” Foster,  retired pitcher and owner of the Chicago American Giants, in February 1920 to “create a profession that would equal the earning capacity of any other profession . . . keep Colored baseball from the control of whites . . . [and] do something concrete for the loyalty of the Race.”
The 1943 Homestead Grays lineup included several future Hall of Fame players: Cool Papa Bell (back second from left), Josh Gibson (back fifth from left), and Buck Leonard (back second from right). Photo courtesy of the Negro …

Keep the Story Rolling: An Interview with Toni Stone Director Pam MacKinnon

Image
By A.C.T. Publications Staff
Before Pam MacKinnon got a call from her friend Samantha Barrie in 2012, she had never heard of Toni Stone. Barrie, a theater producer and avid baseball fan, urged MacKinnon to read a biography published in 2010—Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League. MacKinnon found the book riveting. “It just works on so many different levels,” says the Tony Award winner and A.C.T. artistic director. “Historically, sociologically, and biographically.” Barrie purchased the rights from author Martha Ackmann, and MacKinnon approached playwright Lydia R. Diamond to dramatize the story of Toni Stone.

“I had seen a few of Lydia’s plays,” says MacKinnon. “Even though we’d never worked together before, I felt like we shared the same theatrical sensibility. I felt that for this play to get written and produced, Lydia needed to write it. She can write really hard-hitting things that are also filled with big,…

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond on Toni Stone

Image
By Ted Sod
Award-winning Toni Stone playwright Lydia R. Diamond grew up in a family of educators and musicians. She found playwriting in her third year at Northwestern while studying theater, and went on to act professionally for 10 years while writing and producing her own plays. It wasn’t until her first regional theater production of The Gift Horse at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Diamond says, that she understood “I was happier and more adept at writing plays than being in them.”

Toni Stone premiered at Roundabout Theatre Company in 2019 before coming here to San Francisco. In addition to Toni Stone,Diamond’s playwriting career is expansive. Her other works include Smart People, Stick Fly (Broadway run at Cort Theatre), Voyeurs de Venus, Harriet Jacobs, and The Bluest Eye. She has also worked in television, and was a writer/ consulting producer for Showtime’s fourth season of The Affair, for which she was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Drama. Diamond, an educator hersel…