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Spring into the MFA Program Season

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By Claire L. Wong

For the next two weekends, the MFA class of 2021 springs back to turn of the 19th century Germany with Spring Awakening: The Play, directed by Christine Adaire. “The main crux of the show relies on a culture where people struggle to communicate,” says MFA Program actor Allen Darby, who plays Moritz. “Spring Awakening asks us questions about tricky concepts that we have done our best to answer, but leave open for the audience to ponder after the show.”


The class of 2020 kicked off the MFA Program season with Derek Walcott’s Ti Jean and His Brothers, directed by Dawn Monique Williams. Catch the same actors this winter in A.C.T.’s seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol, which runs November 29–December 24. The third-years are onstage again February 20–29 for Passage by Christopher Chen, an Obie Award–winning Bay Area playwright. “It’s a fantastical examination of colonialism and xenophobia,” says Associate Producer Ken Savage, “and it’s in conversation with TestmatchPass…

Stories from behind the Curtain: The Accents of Testmatch

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By Claire L. Wong

“Accents help the audience understand where a character is coming from,” says A.C.T. Head of Text and Dialects Lisa Anne Porter, who is the voice and dialect coach for Testmatch. “Where a character comes from could be in terms of the physical location they’ve lived in, or their status in the world they live in. Status may be socio-economic, it may be how dark their skin is, it may be what they look like—all those elements may explain how they get that status.”

The Messenger (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) shares wisdom with Daanya (Avanthika Srinivasan), a talented village cricketer, in Kate Attwell's Testmatch. Photo by Kevin Berne. 
The ways the Indian and English characters speak in Testmatch provide reference points for the audience. And as this world premiere came into focus in the rehearsal room, shaping those reference points was a team effort, starting with playwright Kate Attwell. “In differentiating the characters of [the three English cricket players] England 1,…

Testmatch Mesmerizes Audiences

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By Claire L. Wong 
As the world premiere of Testmatch heads into opening night on Wednesday, the buzz about the show keeps growing. Kate Attwell’s new play is already lined up for a run at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2020, and while it’s attracting a lot of attention from East Coast theater-lovers, Bay Area audiences are loving the production.

“The play was super funny, insightful, and thought-provoking,” says one audience member.

India 2 (Lipica Shah) and England 3 (Millie Brooks) discuss which is the better team in Kate Attwell’s Testmatch. Photo by Kevin Berne.
“I loved it!” says another theater-goer. “I loved that it was an all-female cast and that it featured women of Indian descent in substantial roles, which we almost never see. I loved it that it was written by a woman and directed by a woman—yay Pam! And I loved the production’s sophisticated theatricality and the complicated and nuanced experience it presented. Brava!”

To hear from audiences directly after the performance, chec…

Playwright Kate Attwell on Testmatch (Part Two)

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By Simon Hodgson

As soon as director Pam MacKinnon read the script for a new play titled Testmatch, she fell in love with the writing of its playwright, Kate Attwell. Hear from the playwright and director about the journey from script to stage, and catch the world premiere of Testmatch at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater.


Left to right: England 3 (Millie Brooks), England 2 (Arwen Anderson), India 2 (Lipica Shah), India 1 (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), and India 3 (Avanthika Srinivasan) discuss which is the better cricket team in Kate Attwell’s Testmatch. Photo by Kevin Berne
Pam MacKinnon: There are many extraordinary theatrical elements in Testmatch: the way actors take on other guises to tell the story in different ways; the oversized British accents; the Memsahib character that echoes Ophelia [in Shakespeare’s Hamlet]; the clash of contemporary and classical language; the character of Abhi who goes in and out of the scene as both the beleaguered sepoy and the main character who straddles both worlds…

60 Minutes, 60 Plays

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By Claire L. Wong

“It’s a wild, thought-provoking, and fun hour,” says Director of the Young Conservatory Jill MacLean. For the next five nights, the Young Conservatory presents the Student One-Minute Play Festival, featuring 60 one-minute plays written and performed by young artists from around the Bay Area.

After going on an artistic writing retreat and working together as a community to produce the plays, this next generation of theater-makers and change-makers presents work that is reflective of the world they want to see. “There’s an immediacy and a relevance to the content of the plays,” says MacLean. “Because the students are writing the material, they’re invested in it, it’s their own.” 

This is the first time the YC has taken on this creative challenge, but these emerging artists have an excellent guide: Dominic D’Andrea, founder and producing artistic director of the One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF). Additional direction by local directors Karina Fox, Jill MacLean, Nikki Meñez,…

Playwright Kate Attwell on Testmatch (Part One)

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By Simon Hodgson
As soon as director Pam MacKinnon read the script for a new play titled Testmatch, she fell in love with the writing of its playwright, Kate Attwell. Hear from the playwright and director about the journey from script to stage before catching the world premiere of Testmatch at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater.

Playwright Kate Attwell. Photo courtesy Kate Attwell.
Pam MacKinnon: As a South African–born playwright, you might be expected to draw on that experience in your work. What made you choose India as the focal point?
Kate Attwell: What I want to do with this play is challenge the notion of empire and the way it’s historicized. I want to confront the way people talk about empire—to take down the idea that “We British went all over the world, we took so much, we destroyed so much, but now we’re going to talk about it as this wonderful time when we built the railways.” Britain’s colonization of India had a particularly capitalist bent—it was fundamentally about wealth and the tr…