Showing posts from 2011

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee officially opens A.C.T.'s new performance space - The Costume Shop

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) opened its new performance space, The Costume Shop recently. San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee, who helped usher in the momentous occasion, was surrounded by A.C.T.’s family of artists and supporters as well as representatives from the numerous arts organizations around the Bay Area. A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and A.C.T. Executive Director Ellen Richard. Photo by Orange Photography. The new space at 1117 Market Street (at 7th Street) is in the heart of San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood in the space below A.C.T.'s longtime costume shop. The venue is a 49-seat space dedicated to an eclectic lineup of professional and A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program productions. Solidifying A.C.T.’s presence in the rapidly developing and artistically vibrant Mid-Market neighborhood, the Costume Shop will enable A.C.T. to partner with exciting local artists and performing arts companies, propelling the creati

Lunch with stars Annette Bening and Elizabeth Banks

Announcing the first-ever A.C.T. Conservatory Awards Luncheon on January 24! Celebrated alumni Annette Bening and Elizabeth Banks are among this year’s recipients. Join us for this star-studded event honoring A.C.T. alumni and donors who provide scholarship support. Go online at Conservatory Awards Luncheon for details and ticket information.

'A Christmas Carol' signals festive season - get your tickets now

Omoze preparing for her stint as The Ghost of Christmas Present for A Christmas Carol . Photo by Randy Taradash. Ban the humbugs and get into the festive season with the timeless production 'A Christmas Carol' . Sparkling lights on trees, cheerful music in department stores, love this time of year or not, Christmas is fast approaching and A.C.T. is playing its part to usher in the holiday season with A Christmas Carol. The inimitable Ghost of Christmas Present, A.C.T. core acting company member and M.F.A. Program alumna Omozé Idehenre, is getting ready to take Scrooge on the ride of his life. Recently she served as emcee for the grand opening ceremonies in the Safeway Ice Rink at Union Square. Here she welcomes the enthusiastic crowd to the ice rink. Check out the buzz and get your tickets now: here .

Too Much Transparency?

Posted by Carey Perloff, A.C.T. Artistic Director Did you know that A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff has been blogging for the Huffington Post about issues pertaining to the national theater scene? She recently wrote about the controversy surrounding Arena Stage’s decision not to allow journalists and the general public into their new plays forum, asking some interesting questions about what it means for artists and arts administrators to be transparent about their processes. You can read her latest post here .

Race, Gender, Jury Selection, and David Mamet

Posted by David Newdorf, Business Litigator for Newdorf Legal Effective lawyers understand the limits of juror fairness and their ability to put aside preconceived notions. David Mamet’s play Race , which I saw this week in San Francisco, is a perceptive look at how trial lawyers navigate the unspoken value systems of juries. The play unfolds in a law firm conference room as three criminal defense lawyers brainstorm how to defend their wealthy, white client against charges that he raped a young black woman. Juries are generally good at deciding simple facts: whether a light was red or green, whether a promise was made or broken, whether a statement was misleading. Other cases have hidden landmines for the lawyers. Cases involving issues of race, religion, gender, power, or wealth are traps for the unwary. White cops versus black suspect. White male executive versus young female subordinate. Corporate manager versus Muslim employee. In such cases, the jury deliberations can easily g

"Why Theater?": A Look into Theater of War

posted by Tyler Pugliese, A.C.T. Marketing Fellow A poignant examination of the impact of war upon warriors, Theater of War has riveted audiences across the country. On November 13 and 14, A.C.T. will participate in this incredible event, which includes a dramatic reading of Sophocles’ tragedy Ajax , followed by a town hall discussion featuring a panel of local military community members, including a mental health professional. Admission is free, and reservations are recommended. Click here for details. Marketing Fellow Tyler Pugliese had the opportunity to attend a Theater of War performance in Philadelphia before he started work at A.C.T. “Why theater?” The question echoed in my mind. I wondered how theater could sincerely display the horror and depravation of war. What could theater accomplish that countless other mediums have not? Theater is often illuminated with human connection, while war is fueled by a lack of emotion and inner turmoil. I have participated in theater and hav

Interview with Christina Lorenn Elmore

This fall, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program classes of 2012 and 2013 are facing an entirely new challenge: taking on roles in two plays that will be performed in repertory October 19–November 5 at Hastings Studio Theater. This means they have been simultaneously rehearsing roles for two very different productions: Aphra Behn’s rollicking 17th-century comedy The Rover; or The Banish’d Cavaliers and Arthur Miller’s haunting Depression-era saga The American Clock: A Vaudeville . You can find more information about the shows at . Conservatory Project Manager Sharon Rietkerk recently sat down with Christina Lorenn Elmore, member of the M.F.A. Program class of 2012, to chat about her experiences performing double duty. Christina Lorenn Elmore (right) and Courtney Thomas rehearse The Rover . Photo by Dan Rubin. Sharon: What was your initial reaction to doing two plays at once? Christina: My initial reaction was, “Great! Let’s do it!” True repe

A.C.T.'s Secret Cabaret Space

Did you know that the majestic American Conservatory Theater also houses intimate cabaret performances throughout the season? Tucked away on the fifth floor, the Garret is a vibrant performance space, artfully bordered by exposed brick walls and dotted with colorful posters of past A.C.T. productions. Last weekend, the Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2012 took over the Garret to present three performances of their lively cabaret (with a tongue-and-cheek title), The Sublime and The Ridiculous , created by director Craig Slaight and music director Robert Rutt. Below are some photos of the third-year class, all dressed up and performing their hearts out as they delivered an eclectic mix of songs, from Jackson Browne to Stephen Sondheim. If you missed this performance, don’t despair—A.C.T.’s cabaret season is just beginning! Next up: Young Conservatory students bring their talents to the Garret right before Halloween for a cabaret performance October 28–30. Check back on our

A Summer of Firsts in the A.C.T. Young Conservatory

posted by Craig Slaight, Young Conservatory Director School may have been out all summer for many, but here at the A.C.T. Young Conservatory (YC), the joint was jumpin’! The summer of 2011 was one of the most exciting in years. It all began in June with the opening of Homefront , the first-ever completely original musical to be commissioned, developed, and produced by the YC. After years of developing our musical theater program and creating new musicals from existing music, the YC commissioned a new musical score from New York composer Creighton Irons. After a year working together (with me on board as playwright), Homefront was born this summer, featuring a cast of 19 (including two members of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program). Within a week of Homefront ’s opening at Zeum Theater, our four-week session of YC classes began at 30 Grant Avenue, filling the studios with eager and talented young actors, many of whom can only study with us during the summer because of the dist

Tosca 2.0

posted by Carey Perloff, A.C.T. Artistic Director Cocreated by Carey Perloff and Val Caniparoli, A.C.T.’s world premiere production of The Tosca Project played to sold-out houses in 2010. Now it’s on its way to a second life at Theatre Calgary in Canada, where it was been renamed Tosca Cafe . Performances begin September 13 at Theatre Calgary , followed by an engagement at Vancouver Playhouse in October. Now busily working with Caniparoli to remount and reimagine the show for its Canadian run, Perloff took a quick break to share her thoughts on the show’s journey. It is a gift to be able to revisit a production a year after its premiere—and amazing the clarity that can emerge after some time away. Val Caniparoli and I have been collaborating on The Tosca Project for over four years. It began as an experiment to see what would happen if we put five ballet dancers and five actors in a room and tried to create something together, and culminated with a world premiere on the A

The Leap: Diving into the New School Year

posted by Rebekah Brockman, member of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2013 Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever see Conservatory Director Melissa Smith sprawled out under a white blanket in a dirty alleyway, or Head of Voice Jeff Crockett lying motionless on a street grate outside a loading dock at Macy’s. No, I am not describing the results of a fatal accident, but one of the products of this year’s “Leap,” an artistic immersion to kick off the 2011–12 year. For two days the A.C.T. community—including artistic staff, faculty, and M.F.A. students—gathered together for this creative powwow. By far, the Leap is one of the most unconventional ways to “get to know each other” without any of the typical name-games and awkward introductions. Our mornings started off with group warm-ups and workshops designed to take us out of our element. We explored alternative ways to approach the work, which no one was sure of, but all were willing to investigate. Then, in th

A.C.T. Costume Shop: Mid-Market’s Hidden Secret

Did you know that the A.C.T. Costume Shop is located smack in the heart of the mid-Market neighborhood? It might not look like much from the outside, but our warehouse at 7th and Market streets holds more than 20,000 costumes (and counting) and is an amazing resource for local theater companies, arts students, and anyone searching for a fantastic Halloween costume. The San Francisco Arts Commission recently created a video that includes a peek inside the costume-lined walls of this A.C.T. treasure, along with a fascinating interview with Callie Floor, A.C.T.’s diligent (and very friendly) costume rentals supervisor. Watch the video, then visit the Costume Shop’s online gallery to check out our incredible array of sartorial finery.

Overheard at Rehearsal, 2010–11 Season

Posted by Emily Hoffman, Publications and Dramaturgy Associate Every day after rehearsal is over and the actors have gone home, the stage manager types up a summary of the day’s work. 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 requests for each design department. These reports provide glimpses into the production’s evolution—and into the (occasionally) wacky and wild goings-on in the studios. Many times they’ll contain requests that, to anyone not intimately involved in the creation of the production, can seem both puzzling and entertaining. Looking back, it is fascinating to see where the seeds of some our favorite onstage moments were planted in rehearsal. Here are just some of the interesting (and chuckle-inducing) notes from the 2010–11 season. PROPS 1. As usual, a few pieces of

Notes on the Craft: An Excerpt from Marco Barricelli’s 2011 A.C.T. M.F.A. Program Commencement Address

Posted by Marco Barricelli, Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz and former A.C.T. Core Company member Let me begin by saying how tremendously honored and pleased I am to be here today to honor you. Thank you Melissa, Conservatory faculty, trustees, and Carey. I am especially pleased, not for myself, but for you, the graduates of this fine theater academy. … I am not saying I am or ever was a great actor, but this is what I now know after 30 years of doing this: Acting, great acting, allows feelings of vulnerability to inform everything you will do onstage. I hereby require you, as actors, to not cover up or deny those feelings when you work—they are grist for the mill of your craft. And, certainly in terms of the craft of acting, this makes perfect sense because if you try to act starting from a place of “cover” and “denial” of what you really are in that moment, you will be starting from someplace false and then pretending to be something else—which is also, ulti

Building a City: a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the Tales of the City set

“You can’t escape the beauty of San Francisco,” says Tales scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt, in a recent interview in Words on Plays . “As a designer, it really infects you. You keep saying, ‘Oh, that vista, we’ve got to have that.’ By the time you’re done with that, you’ve got a whole picture-postcard collection that you’re trying to put onstage. Very early on, we decided that we didn’t want to go that route.” Instead of trying to pack all of San Francisco into his set, Schmidt drew inspiration from the iconic back staircases of Russian Hill to create a moving, shifting environment where the musical’s mysteries could slowly unfold. The Endup, Halcyon Ad Agency, and of course 28 Barbary Lane: all of these locales are created with quick changes to the same central structure. Check out the video below to see it built from the ground up. —The A.C.T. Intern Blog Quadrumvirate.

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Patrick Lane

Meet recent M.F.A. Program graduate Patrick Lane, who plays Brian Hawkins . Click here to read his official bio. Thanks for joining us as we got to know more about the incredible cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical  over the last few weeks. Check back next week for more behind-the-scenes tidbits from the show! NAME Patrick Lane. CHARACTER Brian Hawkins. HOMETOWN Louisville, Kentucky. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Well, my father was a preacher and my mother directed the children's choirs, so my first experience performing was as one of the lions in Noah's ark. I suppose constantly performing in church, coupled with my middle-child syndrome, left me completely defenseless against the alluring theater. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE My favorite experience would have to be when I played Horace Robedaux in a college production of 1918 . It was my first experience delving into the deeply complex family relationships that are so common in plays

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Alex Hsu

Meet Alex Hsu, who plays Lionel . Click here to read his official bio. Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Alex Hsu. CHARACTER Lionel. HOMETOWN Born in Taipei, Taiwan; grew up in Hayward and Fremont, California. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE My mom took me to see a production of Promises, Promises! at the college where she worked, and I remember being absolutely mesmerized by Turkey Lurkey Time. I can probably trace many aspects of my personality to that experience, such as my love of musical theater, my affinity for mid-century design and fashion, and my appreciation of go-go dancing. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Seeing Les Misérables on Broadway in 1996. I basically wept for three hours. It was absolutely transcendent and spiritual. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Watching the TV miniseries on DVD many years ago. HOW ARE YOU LIKE LIONEL? We are both second-generation Bay Area Chinese

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Manoel Felciano

Meet A.C.T. core acting company member Manoel Felciano, who plays Norman Neal Williams . Click here to read his official bio. Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Manoel Felciano. CHARACTER Norman Neal Williams. HOMETOWN San Francisco. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Playing Micaela’s gypsy guide in the San Francisco Opera production of Carmen with Placido Domingo. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Playing George in Sunday in the Park with George . FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Being cast in the production. HOW ARE YOU LIKE NORMAN? Hopefully very little! Though I’ve been known to rock the clip-on tie. FAVORITE MUSICAL Ooh, tough one . . . right now, Floyd Collins . FAVORITE SONG TO SING “Use Me,” by Bill Withers. EDUCATION B.A., Yale University; M.F.A., NYU; and lots of informal teachers along the way. PERFORMANCE RITUAL Pre-: vocal, physical warm-ups. Post-: walk the bat-pig, ak

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Mary Birdsong

Meet Mary Birdsong, who plays Mona Ramsey . Click here to read her official bio. Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Mary Birdsong. CHARACTER Mona Ramsey. HOMETOWN Long Beach Island, New Jersey. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Doing “the bump” while dressed as a turkey leg in a Thanksgiving recital in grade school because Mia Michenzi chickened out. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Accidentally peeing onstage during the tech for my last solo show. I’d love to say I was five years old at the time. I wasn’t. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Being asked to do a cold reading at 10 a.m. at [director] Jason Moore’s house two years ago on my one day off, and saying no because I thought it was for a musical version of A Tale of Two Cities . I hate Dickens. Okay, I don’t really hate Dickens. But still . . . the idea of doing anything involving bonnets just did not appeal to me at the time. Sleep appealed

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Diane J. Findlay

Meet Diane J. Findlay, who plays Mother Mucca . Click here to read her official bio. Check back next week to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Diane J. Findlay. CHARACTER Mother Mucca. HOMETOWN Suffern, New York. It’s about 25 miles north of New York City, up the Hudson River. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE That’s a hard one. There’s been soooooo many. You see, I love what I do and each project brings along something exciting and interesting and new; something to take home with me and remember, hopefully with laughter. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES My first audition for Tales of the City was a wonder. At first I thought perhaps I shouldn’t go to the audition because I felt our director Jason Moore would never buy me as Mother Mucca, and I knew I’d be disappointed, but my agent talked me into it. So I decided to go for broke and have myself a ball, which

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Andrew Samonsky

Meet Andrew Samonsky, who plays Beauchamp Day . Click here to read his official bio. Check back next week to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Andrew Samonsky. CHARACTER Beauchamp Day. HOMETOWN Ventura, California. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE My earliest theater memories are when my parents would take me to see musicals at PCPA Theaterfest’s outdoor theater in Solvang, California. Great memories. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE In Verona, Italy, I got to see Rigoletto in an ancient 35,000-seat coliseum. I can only compare it to a Yankees game. It was the grandest production I’ve ever witnessed, and the voices were unbelievable. Those Italians love their opera. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Honestly, the first time I heard of Tales of the City was when I got an audition for this production. Now, I constantly see Armistead Maupin’s books everywhere! HOW ARE YOU LIKE BEAUCHAMP? We’ve both lived in San Franci

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone

Meet Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, who plays DeDe Halcyon-Day . Click here to read her official bio. Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone. CHARACTER DeDe. HOMETOWN Portland, Oregon. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Best Christmas Pageant Ever in sixth grade. FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Coming home to Portland with the national tour of Legally Blonde . I loved performing for my hometown. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Reading the script for the audition. HOW ARE YOU LIKE DEDE? I’m married :) and I would also eat donuts at a low point. FAVORITE MUSICAL Not a musical, but I love August: Osage County . FAVORITE SONG TO SING Anything country. Country music always makes it seem like its sunny outside. EDUCATION B.A. in acting with a minor in musical theater from Marymount Manhattan College. PERFORMANCE RITUAL Pre-: work out and steam (pretty normal). P

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Richard Poe

Meet Richard Poe, who plays Edgar Halcyon . Click here to read his official bio. Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical ! NAME Richard Poe. CHARACTER Edgar Halcyon. HOMETOWN Pittsburg, California. FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Playing Scrooge in the eighth grade (magnificent!). FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Hard to choose. Journey’s End on Broadway: nine guys in a dark World War I dugout talking for two and a half hours, and everyone dies . . . then winning every available award in New York, including the Easter bonnet competition. 1776 on Broadway: more guys, more talking, more light, same result. Cyrano de Bergerac at A.C.T. in 1973, playing Second Musician/Third Cadet, being a novice in the middle of all that wonderfulness. There’s more. Just ask me. FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES I lived in San Francisco until about 1977 (graduated from the University of San Francisco [USF] and started acting