Showing posts from January, 2016

A Hell of a Businessman: A Biography of Joe Glaser

By Simon Hodgson Born in 1897, Joe Glaser was the son of a successful Russian Jewish physician in Chicago. He originally intended to follow a similar career and entered medical school, but after passing out in the operating room, he realized he wasn’t cut out to be a doctor. He started off in business selling used cars, but found better luck managing prizefighters. In his biography of Al Capone, Laurence Bergreen notes, “Glaser’s power to fix fights earned him a reputation as a sage of boxing, especially among reporters.” With advanced word as to which fights were fixed, Glaser could predict the results—and even the number of rounds—of many bouts in Chicago. His connections with organized crime continued in his next career change, when he began running nightclubs and whorehouses in the South Side for the Chicago Outfit, the powerful underworld gang led by Capone. Glaser’s tendency toward illegal action nearly ended his career. In 1928, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for

New Strands Festival: Thanking Our Artists and Community

By Cecilia Padilla  Thank you to the hundreds of people who attended A.C.T.’s first New Strands Festival! Bringing together 65 artists from across the Bay Area and nationwide,  this festival  presented works-in-progress across animation, dance, music, and theater. As  The Strand comes to the end of its inaugural season, it was amazing to see our new space filled with so many different artists and extraordinary new work. Here's a glimpse of just a few festival events that took place in The Strand. Keep an eye on our website to see other exciting events like this one!    Michelle Summers (L) and Lauren Spencer (R) in a reading of How to Catch Creation  by Christina Anderson. Photo by Jay Yamada.  Thom.Green in a reading of How to Catch Creation by   Christina Anderson. Photo by Jay Yamada.  Banda Sin Nombre. Photo by Jay Yamada.  Miwa Matreyek. Myth and Infrastructure.  Photo by Gayle Laird.     Byron Au Yong (L) and Dohee Lee (R).  C

A Trick of Lighting: An Interview with Scenic Designer Lee Savage

By Michael Paller Scenic designer Lee Savage has worked at regional theaters across the country and has extensive credits in New York City. He joined the creative team for Satchmo at the Waldorf in 2011 and has been with the crew ever since. “I love working on one-person shows,” says Savage. “It’s a very intimate experience.”  We spoke with Savage about the challenges and exciting discoveries that have come from designing Satchmo at the Waldorf .  What sparked your interest in designing Satchmo ? I had been approached by [director] Gordon [Edelstein] to do it, and I had never worked with him before, so I was very excited by the opportunity. After reading the play, I was really thrilled by its theatricality. Not only the biographical aspects of Louis Armstrong and his manager, Joe Glaser, and their relationship, but how they were being embodied by one actor. There’s an innate theatricality and awesome skill that only actors have: they can transform not only from who they are ev

From Reel to Real: Louis Armstrong and Personal Recording

By Simon Hodgson  For Louis Armstrong, a man who experienced the world through sound, recording himself came naturally. When commercially manufactured reel-to-reel tape recorders became available in the late 1940s, Armstrong was an early adopter. He was introduced to the new machines by his friend Bing Crosby, who saw the value in the magnetic tape technology exported from post–World War II Germany. The trumpeter invested in a Recordio reel-to-reel tape machine manufactured by Wilcox-Gay Corporation and took the bulky device with him on the road, transporting it in a steamer trunk. While Crosby went on to use reel-to-reel tapes professionally and revolutionized broadcasting (he prerecorded radio shows rather than performing live), Armstrong used the new equipment in a more personal way. Initially, Armstrong used the audio technology to record his stage performances, enabling him to listen to and polish his sets. Gradually, however, he started recording ordinary life as well. He wo

Fulfilling a Dream in Theater

By Amy Grace Lam Back to the Source is A.C.T.’s annual week-long professional development program that invites educators to immerse themselves in the transformative power of performance. Taught by A.C.T. professional artists, faculty from our conservatory, and national leaders in arts education, this comprehensive course is a chance for teachers to take creative risks, bring new insight to their classroom practices, and ignite their passion for theater. Amy Grace Lam, a poet and community advocate who works at Community Health for Asian Americans in Oakland to empower immigrant and refugee communities to tell their own stories , participated in Back to the Source last summer, where she rekindled her own passion for theater.    As an immigrant kid, words associated with performance, music, and the arts were “you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t.” I still have a vivid sixth-grade memory of my mom making me cut one of my three music classes in order to focus more on academics.  

A Major-Key Artist: An Interview with Playwright Terry Teachout

By Shannon Stockwell It is a Sunday evening in 1964. An eight-year-old boy plays in the backyard of his small-town Missouri home. His mother leans out the door and tells him to come in. When he walks inside, he sees that the television is on. His mother says, “I want you to watch this. I want you to see this man, because he won’t be around forever.” On the screen are Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, playing “Hello, Dolly!” on The Ed Sullivan Show . The young boy is entranced. This is Terry Teachout’s first memory of the music of Louis Armstrong. Teachout later went on to become a jazz musician, the theater critic for the Wall Street Journal , the author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong , and the playwright of Satchmo at the Waldorf . We caught up with Teachout to talk about the inspiration behind his first play, the complexity of Louis Armstrong, and the pure joy of Satchmo’s music. What is it about Armstrong’s relationship with his manager Joe Glaser that is ripe for the s