Martin Moran Returns to A.C.T.'s Conservatory

Friday, December 9, 2016

By Elspeth Sweatman

“The more you dare to dive into what is deeply personal,” says OBIE Award winner Martin Moran about creating and performing solo work, “the more you just come out the other side. It’s not you at all. It’s just human. And it’s amazing.”

Moran—a former student in A.C.T.’s Advanced Training Program (the forerunner of the M.F.A. Program)—is currently performing his two one-man shows The Tricky Part and All the Rage in repertory at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. On a rainy afternoon, he sat down with current M.F.A. Program actors in The Costume Shop to discuss the thrilling—and sometimes nauseating—process of creating, editing, and performing your own material.

“There’s a real loneliness to writing, and there’s a great loneliness to solo work,” says Moran. “But in the form that I’m working with, the direct address, my partner is the audience, and that is incredibly joyous.”

M.F.A. Program Actors, Dramaturg Michael Paller, and Martin Moran.
Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
As the Broadway veteran speaks, the student actors lean forward in their chairs. Many of them are in the process of writing their own solo shows for January’s Sky Festival. In the midst of this creative process, they are a bundle of nerves, doubts, hopes, and dreams. Now, they have the chance to pick the brain of a master. They listen, totally absorbed.

For Moran, creating a play is like being an actor. “Allow what wants to come through and trust it. Cultivate faith in your impulses as an artist. All of us are somehow called to this endeavor of provoking moments of mystery. Because who really knows? There’s a breath, and we connect.”

Martin Moran and the M.F.A. Program Actors. Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
The best piece of advice Moran had for these young actors was simple: Be where your feet are.

“It goes back to A.C.T., to that beautiful training I had here,” he says. “Trust that the creature, the soul that you are is the essence of what you bring into the room. You make these transformations that add up to a character—they can be as simple as a lisp—but it’s still this human energy. It’s still the thrum of my own soul in my feet, in the room, with this breath, in this moment. And it’s enough.”

Martin Moran is performing his one-man shows The Tricky Part and All the Rage in repertory at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater through December 11. Click here to purchase tickets through our website.

Finding Their Voices: DHS Students at A.C.T.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

By Stephanie Wilborn 

In The Rueff, students from Downtown High School (DHS) are pacing back and forth, memorizing lines, and putting up lights in the rafters. After months of preparation and hard work, they are putting the finishing touches on their exhibition, A Mask I Do Not Fit, a collection of original works on topics of gender and identity.

DHS Movement Class 2016. Photo by Stephanie Wilborn.
Since 2012, A.C.T. has collaborated with DHS to explore educational opportunities through theater. The school’s Acting for Critical Thought project allows the students to learn and discover thought-provoking performances through acting, playwriting, and movement.

At the beginning of the semester, the DHS students came to A.C.T. once a week and studied acting techniques with A.C.T.’s Community and Artistic Director Tyrone Davis. Together, the students and Davis built a trusting relationship through improv and ensemble-based games. They learned theater terminology and were introduced to teaching artists, such as A.C.T.’s Head of Movement Stephen Buescher. They discovered different types of theater, from poetry to clowning.

After months of building trust and knowledge, the DHS class was ready to discover and create its own works of theater at 826 Valencia, a non-profit organization striving to serve and support under-served youth through the creative outlet of writing. From there, the students put their words on their feet and rehearsed.

DHS student Jocelyn Lainez-Robles in 2015 exhibition.
A Mask I Do Not Fit is about gender and identity, topics that DHS senior Jocelyn Lainez-Robles believes are important subjects for teens to discuss. “It’s difficult for teens to talk about it. We hear it on TV and Instagram posts, but we ignore it. But we have a voice too. We’re teens, and we experience it on day to day basis. We may not be adults, but we are aware of what is expected of us by being a boy or a girl.”

Lainez-Robles has participated in more than four exhibitions with A.C.T., and attributes her academic and personal growth to this program. “I would have never thought I could write and perform my own words. I discovered that I do have a way with words and I am able to inspire others. I’ve had issues with others, but A.C.T. has helped me with that. I have learned how to express myself properly and see what I need to change within me. I see that my life does matter and from now on I channel that energy into positivity. I don’t think I could do that without the acceptance and love I have received from A.C.T.”

Please come and join us for Downtown High School’s free exhibition A Mask I Do Not Fit this Friday, December 9 at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. at The Strand. For tickets, please email education@act-sf.org.

Stephanie Wilborn is the Education Fellow at A.C.T.

Martin Moran Wins Over Audiences and Critics Alike

Monday, December 5, 2016

By A.C.T. Publications Staff

A.C.T. audiences have taken Martin Moran to their hearts. The Broadway actor and writer opened his repertory performances of All the Rage and The Tricky Part last week, and theatergoers have risen to celebrate him both during the show and in the lobby afterward. 

Martin Moran in All the Rage. Photo by Joan Marcus.
To give audiences a better opportunity to talk about the ideas and emotions which Moran’s work generates, we’ve added two Audience Exchanges this week. Moran will follow the performance of All the Rage on Wednesday, December 7 with an onstage conversation with A.C.T.’s Artistic Director Carey Perloff and will follow the performance of The Tricky Part on Saturday, December 10 by speaking with Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald.

The two shows have also had critics buzzing. While the San Francisco Chronicle picked out Moran’s “thoughtful and articulate” approach, Theater Dogs said, “You’ll be thinking about [Moran] and feeling his show long after you leave theater.”

While Moran’s charisma earned plaudits for his onstage work, the actor’s innate warmth has won him plenty of admirers offstage. After every show, the Denver-born performer has joined the audience in the lobby to shake hands, sign copies of his books (available at The Strand), and make new friends. With Moran’s two shows closing on Sunday, December 11, be sure to catch this moving and meaningful work.

Click here to purchase tickets through our website. 
 
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