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Showing posts from June, 2011

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

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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, ultimately, not…

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

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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 by Horton Foote and Arthur Mill…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Alex Hsu

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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. Well, I imagine that Lionel is second-…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Manoel Felciano

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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, aka our dog.

FAVORITE ’70s WARDROBE ITEM Probably a giant c…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Mary Birdsong

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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 to me.

HOW ARE YOU LIKE MONA? I’m all…