Posted by Adrian Gebhart, A.C.T. Education Department Volunteer
Since joining the company in 2009, A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Mark Rucker has directed productions of Maple and Vine
, Once in a Lifetime
, and Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet
. He has also tackled several Master of Fine Arts Program productions, including last season’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
and this past winter’s raucous The Wild Party
in The Costume Shop. He has also worked with such Bay Area companies as the Magic, Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and SF Playhouse. He is an associate artist at South Coast Rep, where he has directed more than 20 productions, and other regional credits include work at Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Intiman Theatre, and The Old Globe.
Rucker recently sat down with us to talk about directing the M.F.A. Program production of Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9
, playing in Hastings Studio Theater May 15–18.
Why did you decide to direct Cloud 9?
I’ve always admired the play. I’m curious about the issues of gender and sexuality that are in it: Why is Betty played by a man in the first act? How is that different from a man playing a little girl in the second act? It’s asking all these questions about cross dressing, gender in general, and, specifically, the gender portrait of 1880 and then 1980. I think what Churchill’s getting at is that as fluid as things are in 1980, in terms of feminism and sexuality, there are still issues. Like Edward wanting to be in a traditional same-sex relationship, and his partner not. Those become new issues.
Are there any other particular themes you’ll be focusing on in your production?
There’s a thread in the play that has to do with British politics and colonialism. The first act is set in colonial Africa, and so as members of a British family, these characters have basically invaded. There’s a lot of subtle references to all the people that they’ve had to murder to be there—to conquer. There’s also an ongoing sense that the natives are starting to come and fight them. And in the second act, there’s a bit about Ireland.
How do you address the gender issues Cloud 9 explores?
I’m going to start by asking the man to really play a woman—and not in a campy way. I think there’s a lot going on with Betty. I want to be able to go on her journey, and by asking a man to play her, there’s an opportunity for us to think about her in a new way. Edward being played by a woman is also a chance to bring femininity and masculinity into question with a little boy who is struggling with the sex role that he’s being assigned. He keeps wanting to play with a doll and the family keeps taking it away from him.
For me, this is a play about finding yourself. So I’m really moved by Betty in the second act, who has left her husband behind. That’s of course the primary image of the play at the very end, and it’s very beautiful to me.
Labels: Caryl Churchill, Cloud 9, gender issues, M.F.A. Program, sexuality issues
Posted by Dan Rubin, Publications Manager
|Advancing in skirmish order against the enemy|
Black Watch performs at the Armory Community Center
through June 16.
“Dan: My favorite sobriquet for the Black Watch is ‘Ladies from Hell;’ so named by the Germans in WWI, when they would come charging out of their trenches, bagpipes blaring. Assume it’s true . . . ,” A.C.T. Library Cataloger Roy Ortopan wrote me in a note after reading Words on Plays
. In my research, I had not come across that name applied to the Black Watch, but, sure enough, in his autobiographical account of the Great War entitled “Ladies from Hell”
R. Doublas Pinkerton (who fought with the London Scottish Regiment) writes a beautifully haunting passage about the tragic advance of the Black Watch—or “‘Ladies from Hell,’ as the Germans call the Scottishers.”—in May 1915.
Read more »
Labels: #ACTBlackWatch, 2012-13 season, Black Watch, Dan Rubin, WWI
Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow
Scottish accents are among the most difficult for American English speakers to understand and imitate—even Apple’s famous Siri application is unable to make out Scottish users
. Scottish dialects are heavily influenced by Gaelic, Norse, Scots (a Germanic language still spoken in parts of the Scottish Lowlands and Ulster, Ireland), Old English, and German and are divided into five regional subsets.
Most Scots pronounce consonants just as speakers of standard British or American English do. Exceptions are r
, which is rolled, and ch
, which, at the end of a syllable, takes on a guttural German sound, as in “loch.” This guttural sound also surfaces in words like “daughter” or “night.” As in spoken American English, Scottish English often drops the final g
on verbs: walkin’
instead of “walking.” Adjectives ending in “ed” are pronounced with an “it,” as in spottit
The real trouble begins with glottal stops, the trademark speech pattern of the Scottish. A non-vocal sound made by obstructing airflow in the back of the throat, the glottal stop is also common in American English: it is often used in place of a crisply articulated t
in the middle of a word. (Say the words “curtain” or “important” quickly, and you will automatically make a glottal stop.) Scottish people, however, use glottal stops where Americans do not. A glottal stop can replace a k
that is surrounded by vowels, as in “taken” (ta’en
) or “paper” (pa’er
). In many cases, it also replaces consonants at the end of a sentence when they are preceded by a vowel, as in “root” (roo’
) or “call” (ca’
Scottish English also interprets vowels differently from American and standard British English—with few consistent rules. For example, the words “bone” and “stone” are pronounced been
in eastern Angus, but become bane
an hour’s drive south. The Scottish also do not distinguish between oo
(as in “pool” and “fool”) and u
(as in “pull” and “full”): they are homophones with regional variations.
Watch the video
for an overview of a basic Scottish accent and try it out for yourself: http://www.howcast.com/videos/500520-How-to-Do-a-Scottish-Accent
Labels: 2012-13 season, Black Watch, Cait Robinson, Scottish accents
Posted by Liana Winternitz, Marketing Fellow
|Bessie Carmichael Elementary School students perform three original songs before a student matinee performance of Stuck Elevator.
A.C.T.’s final mainstage Student Matinee (SMAT) performance of the 2012–13 season was on Thursday, April 18. On that sunny afternoon, 857 students and their teachers made their way to A.C.T.’s Geary Theater to see a performance of Stuck Elevator
, the world premiere musical inspired by the true story of a Chinese immigrant trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours.
A.C.T.’s SMAT Program began in 1968 and has since welcomed over half a million students from schools all over California. In a single season, A.C.T. hosts approximately 15 SMATs for mainstage and conservatory shows (depending on the appropriateness of the show and placement in the school year), exposing around 7,000 students to the wonders of theater, many for the first time. Recent popular Conservatory SMAT performances include Tartuffe
and The Odyssey
, performed by our Master of Fine Arts Program students.
Read more »
Labels: #ACTElevator, 2012-13 season, A.C.T. Education Department, arts education, Bessie Carmichael Elementary school, SMAT
Name: Joseph Anthony Foronda
Wife, Dancer, Elevator, Old Guāng, General
Tso, Zhōng Yi
What are your preshow/postshow rituals?
I try to arrive 1–2 hours early before our call time to relax, stretch, and go over any notes by walking the stage and audience area.
What is your favorite thing about San Francisco?
I have too many favorite things about the city. In no particular order: the scenic beauty, proximity to the Pacific, the food, the people. . . friendly and warm.
What is your favorite Stuck Elevator song and why?
"Delivery": it's the old-fashioned idea of communicating and having a relationship via the mail system; the contrast of "the patient wait" versus the immediacy of today's electronic "right now" mindset. Beautifully sung by Mr. Ahn and Ms. Arcilla.
Six characters! How do you do it?
I think, as an actor, multiplicity would be a fun process. Who wouldn't enjoy playing multiple roles?
The ensemble plays various characters exist in the imagination of the main character,
Guāng. Can you share one aspect of Guāng that is illuminated by your character(s)?
I bring out Guāng's sense of jealousy of another male persona who he thinks has a better life. It's basic human nature to covet, in my humble opinion.
If you were to battle it out with a monster, who would you be and what would be your super
I'd be Marvel's Daredevil, the blind-but-sense-heightened superhero who also uses his smarts to battle crime.
We're impressed with your three-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner status! Can you share a memorable experience from your time in Chicago?
|Joseph Anthony Foronda in Stuck Elevator rehearsal.|
Photo courtesy of Julius Ahn.
The play was Pacific Overtures
(Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 2001). There was apparently a lot at stake hinging on the success of the show. The concept was the minimalization of a perceived "big musical," with a multiracial cast. It had poor sales at the start of the run (lots of walkouts, even Asian audience members left), but it ended up selling out, going to the Donmar Warehouse in London, and winning many awards. The wonderful set for Pacific Overtures
was designed by the wonderful [Stuck Elevator
scenic designer] Dan Ostling!
Read Joseph Anthony Foronda's full bio on the A.C.T. Stuck Elevator show page
Labels: #ACTElevator, 2012-13 season, Aaron Jafferis, Byron Au Yong, Chay Yew, Joseph Anthony Foronda, Joseph Jefferson Award, Stuck Elevator