Producing Live Content in the Age of Uncertainty

By Beryl Baker

Since San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order went into effect on March 19, A.C.T. Digital Content Producer Beryl Baker has been keeping busy. In addition to turning live productions of Gloria and Toni Stone into streamed films and editing A.C.T.’s InterACT-at-Home videos, Baker also produced Spring Forward, the smash-hit virtual fundraiser that helped sustain our artistic and education and community programs. Baker shares tips on how to produce a successful, virtual, live event in a pandemic. 

Find out what technology can do for you
Talk or reach out to video production experts and trust their advice. Dig deep into understanding what is and isn't possible. Most people don’t realize that technology isn't as ahead of its time as we’re told. While FaceTime and Google Hangouts exist, those are patented products produced by two top tech companies: having video be sent out and received live requires incredibly fast data processing. Comparing a phone call to a FaceTim…

The Full Her: An Interview with Dinah Berkeley

By Claire L. Wong and Alejandra Maria Rivas

Dinah Berkeley (she/they) grew up in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb outside of Chicago. After graduating from Ohio University, Berkeley studied in a professional training program at Actors Theatre of Louisville, then moved to New York for a few years. There she became involved with mime, physical theater, and clown, and joined the Broken Box Mime Theater troupe. Berkeley’s focus narrowed to sharpening her acting skills, and after auditioning for graduate programs, she came to A.C.T.

Dinah Berkeley. Photo by Deborah Lopez.
Can you describe your experience being in the MFA Program? It’s challenged me about what kind of artist I want to be, how I want to present myself. What kind of work I want. I’ve had to be open to things that I might feel resistance to and trust that if I do the work and if it’s not serving me, I can put it aside. But I won’t know that answer until I commit to fully trying.

What’s your favorite part of the Program?
Sky Fest hand…

It Wasn’t a Party—It Was a Riot

By Beryl Baker and Livian Yeh

San Francisco Pride is turning 50 this year amid a global pandemic and worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. In response to questions about the upcoming virtual celebration and rally, San Francisco Pride board president Carolyn Wysinger expressed support of the protesters and highlighted the especially vulnerable Black trans community. “Stonewall was started by a Black trans woman. Stonewall was a defense of Black bodies,” says Wysinger. “In honor of this, San Francisco Pride will use this moment to lift up and center our Black LGBTQ+ community members.” The woman Wysinger referred to was Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender activist and performer credited with throwing the first brick at Stonewall. As the saying goes, Pride didn’t start as a party—it was a riot, and members of the LGBTQ+ community have long fought back against police harassment and discrimination. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the transgender and …

Jennifer Bielstein Joins Mayor Breed’s Economic Recovery Task Force

By Simon Hodgson

Congratulations to A.C.T. Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein for her appointment to San Francisco’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. “We are looking for ways to keep businesses and organizations afloat and prepare San Francisco for recovery,” says Mayor London Breed. “This Task Force will help us get there.”

Bielstein is one of a select group of arts and culture leaders joining the task force. Given the diverse economic challenges facing San Francisco and the Bay Area, the Task Force draws its talented members from many areas: elected officials, representatives from multiple unions, city planning administrators, Chinatown community leaders, prominent local business owners (representing many sectors including the restaurant and construction industries), chamber of commerce leaders, as well as executives from California-based multinationals including Google, Gap, and Salesforce.

A.C.T.’s executive director is well suited for this participation—Bielstein bring…

Our Commitment and Resources to Anti-Racism

Last week we shared a message with our community in response to the trauma our country and individuals are experiencing with the continued horrific and unnecessary deaths of Black people.
Over the past two years, A.C.T. has undergone tremendous change as an institution. We have owned and learned from our history, including significant input from a departing Black MFA faculty member in 2018, and recognize ongoing systemic challenges. We continue to evolve our organizational culture and work toward making meaningful changes that reflect our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

In our efforts to be an anti-racist organization, American Conservatory Theater is taking or committing to take the following actions:
Serving as community advocates by ensuring our programming reflects and represents the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area communityEnsuring the diversity of creative teams (including playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, and designers) to better tell stories and mak…

Empowerment and Happiness: An Interview with Teaching Artist Radhika Rao

By Claire L. Wong

The first teacher Radhika Rao encountered was her grandmother, and she saw how far a teacher’s love and influence can reach. “She loved education and her students so much,” says Rao. Growing up in New Delhi, India, Rao remembers being in an elementary school play. But it wasn’t until college that she sought out the drama club. Her first job out of college was teaching theater, and she’s continued acting, directing, and teaching theater ever since.

For the past eight years, Rao has been working as a teaching artist and arts integrator in the Bay Area. She uses theater tools and techniques to further conversations about topics including family, the environment, vaping, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Rao works with people of all ages to engage them creatively, emphasizing empowerment and happiness in their art and daily lives. Her local work has included A.C.T., San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, TheatreWorks, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Stanford University,…