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A.C.T. Teaching Artists Inspire Community

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By Claire L. Wong 

“Theater is really about connection,” says A.C.T. Community Programs Manager Stephanie Wilborn. “We can’t do it alone.” For over a decade, Wilborn has been working with community arts organizations, using theater and social justice as a platform to give voice to those who are often overlooked or underrepresented onstage. Wilborn’s work with Larkin Street Youth Services is just one of the partnerships A.C.T. is building with nonprofits throughout the Bay Area, not just this holiday season but throughout the year. 
A.C.T. teaching artist Radhika Rao and A.C.T. Community Programs Manager Stephanie Wilborn speaking at Larkin Street Youth Services' 2019 Performing Arts Night. Photo by Dace James.
Larkin Street Youth Services is the largest provider of housing, healthcare, employment, and education services to young people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. This summer and fall, Wilborn and teaching artist Radhika Rao (who has worked as a teaching artist with A…

Carol Celebrates the Geary Theater Family

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By A.C.T. Publications Staff
Coming home for the holidays is a multi-generational affair for the cast of A.C.T.'s A Christmas Carol. Since 2005, this adaptation of the seasonal classic has united actors from the Young Conservatory, the Master of Fine Arts Program, and professionals on the Geary stage. It is crafted to showcase a variety of experience, and has roles for actors from an elementary school student to an A.C.T. veteran like Ken Ruta, who was part of A.C.T.’s original acting company in 1967. 
To make the familial bonds as strong as possible, the YC and MFA Program actors spend a week working together before rehearsals for A Christmas Carol start. During this time, each YC actor is paired with an MFA actor who guides them through the ins and outs of a professional rehearsal room, the bustle of backstage, and the bright lights of the Geary Theater. 
The cast of A.C.T.'s 2018 production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Kevin Berne.
“The MFA performers share great advice, a…

The Growth of Women’s Cricket

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By Simon Hodgson 

When cricket first took root in 18th-century Britain, women’s cricket was a popular activity. “The greatest cricket match that was played in this part of England,” recorded the Reading Mercury newspaper in 1745, was “between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white. . . . The girls bowled, batted, ran and catched [sic] as well as most men could.” In villages throughout the southeast of England, women’s teams—composed largely of middle- and upper-class players— competed in front of mixed crowds. 

Cricketer Mithali Raj batting for India against England in Truro, United Kingdom, July 8, 2012. Photo by Harrias. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
As the 18th century wore on, however, and the Industrial Revolution took hold of towns in the north of England in the 1800s, the game did not spread widely among working-class women. “The time and space requirements of the factory system and an increasingly strict moral attitude among the ‘better classe…

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…