Revamping The Strand: A Halloween Fundraiser for A.C.T.’s New Performance Venue

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On October 27, friends of A.C.T. crawled, oozed, flew, materialized, and zombie-walked their way to our first-ever Halloween fundraiser, Revamping The Strand, which raised money for the renovation of The Strand Theater in San Francisco's Central Market neighborhood. A.C.T. purchased The Strand as a second stage, and it is scheduled to open in 2014. The event, underwritten in large part by interior designer Ken Fulk and patrons Jeff and Laurie Ubben, was held in Fulk's SOMA studio and featured a four-course dinner with celebrity chefs, a flash-mob performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show's "Time Warp," and a concert by Bay Area native Stevie Nicks, who opened her set with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock 'n' Roll."

In addition to longtime A.C.T. loyalists, the benefit attracted a number of young social media leaders and philanthropists, many of whom are also going to be calling Central Market home. The costumes ranged from famous Hitchcock characters to theatrical ghouls to Little Bo Peep, all conceived and coordinated by A.C.T.'s expert costume shop staff. When Mayor Ed Lee made an appearance directly after the Giants won Game 3 of the World Series, he told the festive crowd, "We have the best baseball team in the country, and we're going to have the best theater in the country."


Event host Ken Fulk. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.
L to R: Jarrod Mims Smith, A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff, and Mayor Ed Lee. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

Inside the tent. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

L to R: George Hamill and Patrick Riley. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.


L to R: Lance Planksman and Larry Martin. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

L to R: Sloan Barnett and Juliet Flynt. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.








M.F.A. Program Students in Moscow: Lisa Kitchens

Lisa Kitchens (A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2014) in front of Stanislavsky's house in Moscow.
The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2014 recently returned from Moscow, where they were honored as the only U.S. acting school invited to attend the prestigious Stanislavsky Festival. They performed Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, were featured on the evening news, and interacted with students from England, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, and Russia.

We asked the students to share their photos and reflections from this unforgettable trip. To read more about their experiences, search for hashtag #ACTinMoscow on Facebook and Twitter.

Lisa Kitchens
Our second morning in Moscow, we took a tour of Stanislavsky's home. We were elated to find out that the person giving our tour, Nikita, is actually Stanislavsky's great-great grandson. . .

Meet the Cast of "Elektra": Titus Tompkins

Titus Tompkins
Elektra continues through November 18.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
Meet Titus Tompkins, a third-year student in the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program who plays Pylades in Sophocles’ Elektra.

What are your preshow/postshow rituals?
Pre: That's a secret! Post: Sleep!

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco?
The people. Growing up in the south, people always ask, "Who's your kin?" Out here, I get asked, "What's your sign?" I love the energy in the communities here.

If you weren't an actor, what would you be?
A construction worker.

What was your most memorable Halloween costume?
A John Deere tractor.

What is your favorite moment in Elektra?
The first prayer in Greek . . .

What is the most outrageous thing you've done to take revenge on someone?
When I was a child, I cut the yarn in my grandmother's crochet project when she was nearly finished with a piece. I learned my lesson that day!


Related Posts

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Meet the Cast of "Elektra": Allegra Rose Edwards

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Q&A with "Elektra" Translator and Adaptor Timberlake Wertenbaker 
Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
M.F.A. Program Students Make A.C.T. Mainstage Debuts in Elektra 
Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Hovering "Between Wild and Tame": The Role of Women in "Elektra"

Monday, October 29, 2012

Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

L to R: Caroline Lagerfelt as Clytemnestra and René Augesen as Elektra in Sophocles' Elektra. Photo by Kevin Berne.
Elektra continues through November 18.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
To understand the role of women in Elektra, it is valuable to consider the classical concept of feminity. The Greeks viewed women ambiguously: though responsible for bearing children and propogating the human race, they were also descendents of Pandora and therefore members of a separate "race of women," less physically and mentally capable than men. Women were also considered more sexually voracious and predisposed to infidelity, naturally threatening to the order of the household, or oikos, which was their domain. Many texts from antiquity compare women to domesticated dogs—though they serve man and share his household, they forever hover between wild and tamed.

Athenians were preoccupied with dividing women by their social status and sexual availability. When she went out in public, a woman's appearance helped to identify her: respectable women rarely left their homes (lest they tempt men or be tempted themselves), so their skin remained pale. As a result, white skin was prized as a sign of purity and status. Wealthy women wore elaborate hairstyles and long chitons and shawls to conceal their bodies; slaves were identifiable by their short cropped hair and prostitutes by their transparent, gauzy garments dyed bright yellow with saffron.

M.F.A. Program Students in Moscow: Asher Grodman

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith, right, with A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program students Asher Grodman and Elyse Price. Photo by Philip Estrera.
The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2014 recently returned from Moscow, where they were honored as the only U.S. acting school invited to attend the prestigious Stanislavsky Festival. They performed Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, were featured on the evening news, and interacted with students from England, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, and Russia.

We asked the students to share their photos and reflections from this unforgettable trip. To read more about their experiences, search for hashtag #ACTinMoscow on Facebook and Twitter.

Asher Grodman

We’re back home in San Francisco after a long flight, and I started thinking about how this incredible trip began.

Meet the Cast of "Elektra": Allegra Rose Edwards

Allegra Rose Edwards
Elektra continues through November 18.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.

Meet Allegra Rose Edwards, a third-year student in the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program who plays Chrysothemis in Sophocles' Elektra.

What are your preshow/postshow rituals?
Pre: Water. Post: Beer.

What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the free bluegrass festival every fall in Golden Gate Park!

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
A weather girl or a ballerina.

What was your most memorable Halloween costume?
I was a swimming pool in fifth grade. Blue wig, depth markers in puff paint (1–5 feet) all the way up my body, pool rules on my back, and to finish it off, a diving board (roof shingle) stapled to my headband with a Ken doll hot glued to the edge. So theatrical.

What is your favorite moment in Elektra?
The Tutor’s speech [delivered by Anthony Fusco as The Tutor] and the beautiful music Theresa [Wong, the onstage cellist] plays underneath it.

What is the most outrageous thing you’ve done to take revenge on someone?
Poisoned gazpacho. A dish best served cold.



Related Posts

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Q&A with "Elektra" Translator and Adaptor Timberlake Wertenbaker 
Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
M.F.A. Program Students Make A.C.T. Mainstage Debuts in Elektra 
Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

M.F.A. Program Students in Moscow: Philip Estrera

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2014 recently returned from Moscow, where they were honored as the only U.S. acting school invited to attend the prestigious Stanislavsky Festival. They performed Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, were featured on the evening news, and interacted with students from England, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, and Russia.

We asked the students to share their photos and reflections from this unforgettable trip. To read more about their experiences, search for hashtag #ACTinMoscow on Facebook and Twitter.

Philip Estrera: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Philip Estrera (A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2014) with his $6 pumpkin latte from a Moscow Starbucks.
I am dreaming. I must be. I am sitting in an auditorium with students from all over the world looking at a monochromatic stage with a man speaking German sitting next to a woman translating in Russian. The delayed quiet murmur of an English translator is heard somewhere off in the distance. Like all dreams, I understand nothing. Due to technical problems, my headset with the English translation is broken. We were told to tune into Channel 2 on the headset . . . nothing but static. My whole class is with me and none of us can understand, but we watch. So, in my seat, my mind drifts back to the beginning of today.

After a night of long anticipated deep sleep, I wake up at 7:30 a.m. The sun hasn't risen yet, which I'm still not used to. It's very strange to wake to what feels like midnight. But I am happy to report that jet lag is starting to fade away. The never-ending low grade headaches, probably from the dehydration of a 16-hour flight, and sporadic moments of waking up throughout the night are disappearing. I tell my roommate, Asher [fellow member of the M.F.A. Program class of 2013] that I heard him talking in his sleep. He informs me I was snoring like a cow. And that I have five different types of snores. Sorry, Asher. Sigh. Shower. Brushing my teeth with bottled water . . . safer than the tap, I'm told. To the elevator.

This whole trip feels like a dream of sorts. I don't really recall how I get to places (mainly because everything around me is written in Cyrillic, so I just trust whoever's hand I'm holding). Elevator. Ding. Walking. Now, before me, a spread . . . bacon, fish stew, strawberry yogurt, and a curd tart . . . hotel breakfast. The coffee is surprisingly good, and the curd tart (which translates to the best cheese bread ever) is delicious. I avoid the stew. In this dream, I find myself sitting next to A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith as we chew on toast and talk about the latest role she tackled as an actress and how it lined up with her son leaving for college . . . then a blur of  hallways, and I find myself in a random hotel room with all of my classmates. We sit on beds; some on the floor. A window overlooking a gray Moscow is on my right. We are running lines from the show we will perform tomorrow night: The House of Bernarda Alba. We laugh. The lines spin quietly in the space. We finish. It's 10:30 a.m.

Members of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2014 wait for the train in a Moscow Metro station.
Elevators. The hum of the Russian metro. A homeless woman with an intricate headscarf reaches out from the ground. More underground metro tunnels lined with chandeliers, then I find myself standing outside a quaint little Russian home in the heart of Moscow. It is the master Russian acting teacher Stanislavsky's home. His great-great grandson is there. He is our guide. He is young and sharply dressed and slightly nervous because it is the first tour he is leading and he has to give it in English. Charming. The bottom of a grand staircase. I put on blue shoe covers that look like shower caps on my feet. I ascend the dark staircase. I find myself wandering through the dark rooms of Russian theater history. I can smell the faint smell of dust. Ancient portraits line the walls. A woman that was his wife. She's dressed as Sonya from Uncle Vanya in one photo; in another, as Natasha from The Three Sisters. I follow the crowd that is my class through untouched hallways. A Russian man's passion documented in every detail of each room. The desk he sat at. The rug that was used in the first production of The Three Sisters. An intricate chair that made its way through a production of Othello. A samovar . . . I want one. We make our way through and I find myself standing outside of Stanislavsky's home watching my classmate Dillon [Heape] ask the great-great grandson to take a picture at the threshold. Flash. He waves goodbye. Gray skies. Through the mist. Starbucks. Tall pumpkin spice latte that costs around $6.

Then I find myself back in my seat, in the auditorium. Suddenly, out of the steady stream of German and Russian, the man onstage speaks clear English for the briefest of moments. "Authenticity authenticity authenticity. Once you've learned to fake that, you've made it." Pause. Back to German and Russian. It must make sense in context, but context is something in short supply these days. However, I am learning there is something beautiful in living in its absence. I'm not awake enough to articulate exactly what that is yet, but maybe it's better that way. All I know is that if this is a dream, I am loving it. Please don't pinch me.

Stanislavsky's desk in his historic home in the heart of Moscow.    

Photo Credits: all photos by Philip Estrera.


Related Posts

Thursday, October 25, 2012
M.F.A. Program Students in Moscow: Asher Grodman

Thursday, October 11, 2012
A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program Performs in Moscow

A.C.T. Brings Theater to Ida B. Wells High School

Friday, October 19, 2012


Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Ida B. Wells classroom teacher Jessie Lindquist and A.C.T. Resident Artist Tyrone Davis congratulate students on their performances. Photo by Dan Rubin.
San Francisco’s Ida B. Wells High School is a continuation (alternative) public school for students who have not been successful in other academic settings. Many students have faced significant hardship, both academic and personal, and Ida B. Wells offers them a second chance at earning their high school diploma.

Q&A with "Elektra" Translator and Adaptor Timberlake Wertenbaker

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Timberlake Wertenbaker

Timberlake Wertenbaker—an internationally recognized, multi-award-winning playwright, translator, and adaptor—returns to A.C.T. with her beautiful new translation and adaptation of Sophocles’ Elektra, which runs October 25–November 18 at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. She is the author of many plays for the stage and radio, notably Our Country’s Good (1988), The Love of the Nightingale (1989), and Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1992). An American-born and –educated European (she was raised in the French Basque country and studied in the United States as well as France) who has lived in London for the past three decades, she has tremendous linguistic dexterity and is a deft translator/adaptor of the great writers of European drama, including Marivaux, Anouilh, Maeterlinck, Pirandello, Euripides, and Racine. Her previous work at A.C.T. includes translations of Sophocles’ Antigone (1993), Euripides’ Hecuba (1995 and 1998), and Jean Racine’s Phèdre (2010). Below are excerpts from past interviews we’ve done with Wertenbaker over the years.

A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program Performs in Moscow

Thursday, October 11, 2012



A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program students Aaron Moreland and Nemuna Ceesay in The House of Bernarda Alba. Photo by Alessandra Mello.
The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2014 is just a few days away from leaving for Russia to attend the Stanislavsky Festival. The students will be spending a week in Moscow (October 15–21), where they will perform Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba and interact with acting students from around the world. The A.C.T. M.F.A. Program has been honored as the only U.S. acting school invited to attend this prestigious festival, and they will join students from acting schools in England, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, and Russia. The theme of this year’s festival is “Open Class: Stanislavsky Continues” (honoring the 150th birthday of Konstantin Stanislavsky) and it is sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Culture, the Moscow Art Theatre, and The Moscow Art Theatre School.

M.F.A. Program Students Make A.C.T. Mainstage Debuts in Elektra

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Posted by Cait Robinson, Publications Fellow

Every season, third-year students in their final year of A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Program put their education into practice when they appear for the first time on The Geary stage. Elektra debuts four talented members of the class of 2013: Nick Steen and Allegra Rose Edwards are taking on major roles as Elektra’s siblings, the vengeful Orestes and the complacent Chrysothemis; Titus Tompkins is playing the less verbal part of Pylades and Rebekah Brockman is understudying the title role after recently appearing in the U.S. premiere of Happy to Stand by Sirkku Peltola at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop last month.

The cast of Elektra in rehearsal. L to R: Titus Tompkins, M.F.A. Program class of 2013, René Augesen, Anthony Fusco, Steven Anthony Jones, Nick Steen, M.F.A. Program class of 2013, and Olympia Dukakis. Photo by Dan Rubin.

Director George C. Wolfe on The Normal Heart

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe directed the 2011 Tony Award–winning Broadway revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart in an acclaimed production that went on to play at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.,  before arriving at A.C.T. Best known for his groundbreaking work on Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and the Broadway hits Jelly’s Last Jam, Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk, and Caroline, or Change, Wolfe also served as producer of The Public Theater from 1993 to 2005. An award-winning writer, director, producer, and actor, Wolfe was named a “living landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 1995 and was recently appointed as one of 25 leaders to serve on the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities.


Below is an excerpt of A.C.T. Marketing Writer Amy Krivohlavek’s interview with Wolfe, which took place shortly before rehearsals began at A.C.T. To read the entire interview, order your copy of Words on Plays.

 
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