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Showing posts from May, 2009

'Tosca' Wrap Up: A Thread, The Bartender

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posted by Beatrice Basso, Dramaturg and A.C.T. Artistic Consultant

Last week at A.C.T. we held a workshop to continue developing The Tosca Project, a theater/dance fusion piece created by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli. Featuring a remarkable cast of actors and dancers, The Tosca Project celebrates a century of San Francisco history in North Beach’s famed Tosca Café. Beatrice Basso, who serves as the production’s dramaturg, wrote to us from the workshop studio about the process of shaping—and reshaping—this unique original work.

There’s something that often happens after a presentation: everybody involved has someone they know (and trust) in the audience and ends up collecting their observations—what they loved, what they didn’t understand, what they craved.

The morning after our presentation, we gathered the audience’s thoughts and our own, and found that many echoed one another. The main point of consensus was the need to…

A 'Tosca' Diary: Day 3

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posted by Beatrice Basso, Dramaturg and A.C.T. Artistic Consultant

This week at A.C.T. we’re holding a workshop to continue developing The Tosca Project, a theater/dance fusion piece created by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli. Featuring a remarkable cast of actors and dancers, The Tosca Project celebrates a century of San Francisco history in North Beach’s famed Tosca Café. Beatrice Basso, who serves as the production’s dramaturg, writes to us from the workshop room about the process of shaping—and reshaping—this unique original work.

Day 3: A Sneak Preview

A large portion of our time was devoted to preparing a “sneak preview” for donors and others who have particularly helped us develop the project. Among them, three women carrying whole chunks of Tosca Café history were at the presentation: Jeannette Etheridge, who has been the owner and soul of the bar since the late 1970s (and shared many of her stories with us over time), …

A 'Tosca' Diary: Day 2

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by Beatrice Basso, Dramaturg and A.C.T. Artistic Consultant

This week at A.C.T. we’re holding a workshop to continue developing The Tosca Project, a theater/dance fusion piece created by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli. Featuring a remarkable cast of actors and dancers, The Tosca Project celebrates a century of San Francisco history in North Beach’s famed Tosca Café. Beatrice Basso, who serves as the production’s dramaturg, writes to us from the workshop room about the process of shaping—and reshaping—this unique original work.

DAY 2: On Letting Go

Yesterday afternoon we worked on a duet between WPA artist Sargent Claude Johnson and a young woman who happens to enter the Tosca Café as he is painting a mural inside. We were talking and struggling, trying and re-trying.

In general, this is a process of experimentation that requires patience and the willingness to “fail again, fail better,” especially in those awkward stages whe…

A 'Tosca' Diary

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posted by Beatrice Basso, Dramaturg and A.C.T. Artistic Consultant

This week at A.C.T. we’re holding a workshop to continue developing The Tosca Project, a theater/dance fusion piece created by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli. Featuring a remarkable cast of actors and dancers, The Tosca Project celebrates a century of San Francisco history in North Beach’s famed Tosca Café. Beatrice Basso, who serves as the production’s dramaturg, writes to us from the workshop room about the process of shaping—and reshaping—this unique original work.

DAY ONE: Layers and Anticipation

We are sitting around in the rehearsal room. I don’t know if the picture shows it, but it’s right at that moment before a new process begins, when the air is filled with plans and chatter and unspoiled anticipation—still one of my favorite moments in theater. Even as these moments accumulate, each one seems to carry its own brand of specialness.

In this case, I a…

Leaving the Nest

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posted by Britannie Bond, A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2009

Last week we bid farewell to the M.F.A. Program class of 2009. They’ve officially graduated and are now headed out into the world to pursue the life of the professional actor. Before they left us, these young artists, like every class before them, traveled to New York and Los Angeles to perform a showcase for casting directors and agents. Below are images, and a note, from their trip.

Dearest San Francisco,

I am sitting in the middle of Times Square fashioning you a love letter in the shape of a big apple. I am here on my showcase tour and have oh so many things to thank you for. Eh-hmm...

Do you remember that time I walked 12 blocks in NYC and it didn't faze me because those city blocks were flat?! Or the time I thought the NYC subway was a piece of cake compared to the BART? Or even the time that I felt so supported by A.C.T. friends and alumni during the showcase performances that it didn't feel like…

A Flicker of Light

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posted by Dion Mucciacito, cast member of Boleros for the Disenchanted

A curtain is falling with the cascading shimmer of guitar strings.
A young couple embrace,
bathed in light and possibility.
Their older selves on the opposite side of the stage
hold on to this memory of hope.
A flicker of light that glimmers from the past
like the stars in the sky.
Stars that might already be gone, but we wouldn't even know it.
Their light still lingers.
The curtain has fallen.

We have just finished our last preview for José Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted and the curtain for our opening will soon rise. The cast and crew have put a lot of work into this piece, and we are still finding new and exciting revelations as the process of deepening continues.

As much as this play is about dreams and memories, it is also deeply about hope. How hope can somehow exist in a place where the light of dreams past have been extinguished by life’s brutal circumstances.

Upon starting work on this play t…

Planting the Seeds

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posted by Deborah Munro, A.C.T. artistic administration intern

The A.C.T. intern podcast has returned, and in this episode we explore the process of creating new works, from germination to full-fledged realization.

Each season, A.C.T. hosts the development of dozens of new works, from table readings of works-in-progress to mature productions that appear on our mainstage. Some projects, like War Music and next season’s The Tosca Project, involve seasoned artists who shepherd works from the studio to the mainstage—a process that can take years of hard work. Most of these projects, however, find a home in our conservatory, where they serve as an educational tool, challenging students to work with new forms and ideas, affording them the opportunity to originate roles, and even empowering them to devise their own pieces.

Because new work is by nature experimental and innovative, it really can “change the world,” as one student says—but how does the process work? How do people collaborate t…

Best of A.C.T. Rehearsal Reports, 2008–09

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posted by Lesley Gibson, A.C.T. Publications Intern

Every day after rehearsal is over and the actors have gone home, the stage manager for each production (or his/her harried intern) sits down and types up an email that summarizes, in minute detail, that day’s work. Typically containing general information about the production’s progress, as well as notes and updates for the design team, the rehearsal reports are divided into categories (costumes, lights, sound, props, etc.) and presented as a list of updates and/or requests for each department that are sent to designers, production staff, artistic staff, marketing staff, and (luckily for me) the publications intern.

I don’t make it into rehearsal very often; I will maybe see a run-through once or twice in the studio before a production moves into the theater for tech rehearsals. While I spend most of my time confined to a cubicle on the seventh floor of A.C.T.’s studios and offices at 30 Grant Avenue, typing away at my computer, the r…