Showing posts from April, 2009

Producing for Results

posted by Rusty Rueff, A.C.T. Trustee My wife, Patti, and I have produced or executive produced six A.C.T. productions ( A Mother , A Number , The Voysey Inheritance , The Imaginary Invalid , The Rainmaker , and the upcoming Boleros for the Disenchanted , pictured at right). When we were first invited to participate at this level I was not sure what to expect. In the film world, lots of people invest to have their name associated with a movie as a producer or executive producer with no expectations of ever being included in the making the movie. And yes, in most cases, it’s wise not to have people who are neither skilled nor experienced messing around with the creative process. That being said and recognized, the experience of producing at A.C.T. has far exceeded our expectations. Regardless of the medium—whether it be visual or performing arts—for Patti and me, our “thing” is to see the creative process unfold and come to life. What I have learned over the years is that what happens

A Golden City of Awesomeness

posted by Ryan Parham, A.C.T. Prop Master One of the great things about working in A.C.T.’s prop shop (apart from the killer BBQs and vicious ping-pong smack-downs at the Florida Street shop) is the opportunity to create fabulously strange and wonderful props. You’d be amazed at some of the notes and requests that are generated through the rehearsal and design process. Oftentimes these props require extensive research and development, and sometimes multiple prototypes need to be built before the final product is successful. Granted, once all this work is done and the finished prop is onstage, chances are we will never build that prop ever again. It’s not a question of ability or desire—rather, it’s more a question of necessity. For instance, how many shows have you seen that call for a three-and-a-half-foot-long enema gun that shoots out disgusting green slime? (Answer: The Imaginary Invalid .) Or, how often do you need a large sheet of melted glass bottles that you can hang in a tre

Collaboration Is the Future for Emerging Artists

posted by Evan Schnair, M.F.A. in Writing Program poet, California College of the Arts Every day we see development in the art community among mediums. Expression continues to thrive because of innovations in thought, in practice, and in crafting art. For theater, collaboration is in its blood. This year I was invited to be a part of an experience to share language, imagination, acting, and writing between two institutions: American Conservatory Theater and California College of the Arts . In today’s world of poetry, poets seek this kind of movement across genre and medium to produce our work. Where writing may be visually driven or sonically motivated or sense related, it is only natural that a poet turn to theater, where all those experiences come together. Today, when we can craft poems out of videos, sound pieces, and images, the theater still presents the most powerful canvas for the collaboration of emerging artists. In August of 2008, I approached A.C.T.’s Melissa Smith a

An Unexpected Audience with Sir Noël

posted by Craig Slaight, A.C.T. Young Conservatory Director In February, Craig Slaight—A.C.T. associate artist and director of the Young Conservatory (YC)—traveled to England to conduct research for the original Noël Coward revue he is creating for the YC. Performances of Bright Young People will be presented May 8–23, 2009 at Zeum Theater. Slaight reflects on his recent foray into the vast literary legacy of the master British dramatist: It is an overcast English day, the kind the Brits like to call “glum,” and I’m riding a spiffy Virgin train from London to Birmingham. I knew that Virgin flew planes and sold all things media, but never realized that they also were big in train travel. But the sleek body of this train, the modern brightly colored paint, and this comfortable lower-class car prove that they do it very well. I’m on my way to Birmingham and the special collections department of the University of Birmingham Library. I have an appointment there to liberally examine th

In the Year 2034

posted by Lesley Gibson, A.C.T. Publications Intern Starting off the week with a bit of good news, this month marks the 25th anniversary of American Theatre magazine, the leading professional publication of the regional theater in the United States. In celebration, the editors have rounded up 25 theater professionals from around the country—including A.C.T. Sound Associate Jake Rodriguez and M.F.A. Program alumna Anika Noni Rose —to look ahead and share their ideas of how the landscape of American theater might evolve over the next quarter century. Check out “AT25: An Eye on the Future” for an inspiring glimpse into the future that reinforces our faith that, even in the bleakest of financial times, art will find a way to thrive.

From the Theater Jazz Playbook

posted by David A. Moss, War Music cast member I’ll tell you right off that I will be mixing metaphors shamelessly. I am a cast member of War Music and it’s like having played college football, then entering the NFL and realizing, “Damn! These players are fast!” I’ve always wanted to be in a cast where the level of talent is so high that my lungs burn from trying to keep up—that’s the case now. These players are fast! It’s one thing to play college football, where your plays are fairly simple, but it’s another thing when you’re in the pros and you’re handed a biblically sized playbook written by the wizard of offense, Bill Walsh, only in this case the wizard is Christopher Logue. This isn’t a play in the traditional sense. It’s an epic poem that goes in and out of moments of huge spectacle and quiet moments of intimacy, without the through line and arc of a traditional play. It’s Coltrane’s A Love Supreme . The language is exquisite but it can be very daunting. Fortunately for