A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon on the 2018–19 Season

By Simon Hodgson
Last month, Pam MacKinnon took the reins as A.C.T.’s artistic director and she has hit the ground running. Before the opening of the 2018–19 season, she gave us an insight into her thinking behind A.C.T.’s upcoming season.

What are you looking forward to with the season opener, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Sweat?

Sweat is a theatrical testament to the phrase, “The personal is political.” Set in the once prosperous Reading, Pennsylvania, and based on weeks of interviews by playwright Lynn Nottage, this play is about what happens to friends, family, and co-workers when the unions roll up and the American dream seems at an end. I’m excited for Loretta Greco, a director whose work I have admired for more than 20 years, to bring this future American classic to life at The Geary.

Why are you drawn to Men on Boats?

As soon as I picked up this play, I was pulled into the world created by playwright Jaclyn Backhaus. Men on Boats is based on the 1869 travelogues of John Wesley Powel…

Offstage and Outside the Theater: Reflections on YC Students’ Field Trips for Urinetown

By Annie Sears 
It’s not every day that you get to see a musical about pee, but the Young Conservatory’s current production of Urinetown provides just that. Characters dance across the stage with their legs crossed as they harmonize about their “privilege to pee” or lack thereof, having audiences howling with pee-your-pants laughter. This satire is hilarious, but it’s also deeply political and requires intellectual engagement. Characters break the fourth wall, directly asking audiences to reevaluate their views on economic disparity, police brutality, and environmental sustainability.
Director Jessica Bird wanted actors to grasp the musical’s relevance firsthand. So A.C.T.’s Education and Community Programs team organized several field trips to help students make ties between their real-life community and the community portrayed onstage.

Students partnered with GLIDE, a church that maintains several community service programs aimed at breaking the cycles of poverty and marginalizat…

Behind the Scenes at A.C.T.: An Interview with Accounting Manager Sharon Boyce

By Annie Sears

Sixteen years ago, Sharon Boyce applied for a finance associate position at A.C.T. She didn’t get it, at least not right away. The general manager promised he’d call if something opened up. Boyce said, “That sounds great!” But she was really thinking, “Yeah right.”

Sure enough, six months later, A.C.T. offered her a different position: donor systems coordinator. She accepted. Having constructed props and sets throughout high school and college, she knew she wanted to be a part of a theater. Three years later, the finance position she’d originally applied for reopened. This time, she was hired.

Boyce, who was recently promoted to accounting manager, has now worked at A.C.T. for 15 years, which grants her a unique perspective on where A.C.T. has been and where A.C.T. is going.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I enjoy reconciling our accounts. It’s a lot of work because there’s so much to look through, and it sometimes takes three or four days to complete. But I…

More Than a Musical: An Interview with Urinetown Director Jessica Bird

By Taylor Steinbeck

Urinetown: The Musical—the Young Conservatory show opening at The Strand this week—is not your typical night at the theater. This Tony Award–winning musical takes place in a city controlled by the corrupt Urine Good Company where you have to pay to pee. Urinetown lampoons everything from capitalism to big industry, while backed by the sounds of Broadway-spoofing songs. We sat down with director Jessica Bird to further crack open this clever comedy.

How would you describe this show?
Urinetown is comedic satire. It hits you in the gut with how real it is and how it speaks to the state of where we are right now in this country, but it also makes you laugh about it.

What's your vision for this production?
This show will be set in a dystopian San Francisco since a lot of the themes are relevant to what’s happening in this city. There's so much economic disparity—just walk outside The Strand Theater and you'll see it. There's also the issues of water scarcit…

A Personal Connection: An Interview with A.C.T.'s New Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon

By Simon Hodgson

This month, Pam MacKinnon officially took the reins as A.C.T.'s artistic director. As she plans for our upcoming 2018–19 season, we sat down with MacKinnon to talk about her own story and what's ahead.

What are you looking forward to at A.C.T.?

Having an artistic home. I have always been a freelance director and that is a wonderful thing, hopping from project to project, accruing an artistic family along the way. But I’ve never been part of an institution, let alone a leader of an institution. So to dig into a place and really get to know an audience is very exciting to me.

What attracts you to San Francisco?

San Francisco is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city, a seat of innovation and higher learning, and a crown jewel of this country. Like a lot of American cities, it’s learning how to deal and manage and live with great new wealth next to people who are struggling and desperate. There is something very alive and thrilling in San Francisco.

You’ve been a freelan…

The Cast of Suns on Why This Play Matters Now

By Taylor Steinbeck

Over the past year, A Thousand Splendid Suns has moved audiences across Canada and at San Diego's Old Globe. But this story of three resilient Afghan women has also captivated the show's cast, some of whom have been a part of this production since its world premiere at A.C.T. in February 2017. Before Suns's limited two-week run at The Geary Theater this month, we spoke to three of the cast members to hear what this moving story means to them.

Nikita Tewani (Aziza): The stories of the country, culture, and people portrayed in A Thousand Splendid Suns are largely untold. If they are in the media, the representation is more often than not a negative one. Every time I step on that stage, I am honoring these people: women who normally don’t get to share their stories. This play shows the humanity of what’s really happening in these countries—why refugees become refugees and why they need our help. Our world needs stories like this right now. As an actress of…