Annette Bening and Mark Harelik Visit A.C.T.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

By Emilianne Lewis 

 Mark Harelik and Annette Bening at A.C.T. 
Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
“Transformation! That’s what it’s all about here as a student. We want range, to be anything—young, old, whatever!”
–Annette Bening, A.C.T. M.F.A. Program Alumna

The morning after their wonderful performance in Dear Liar, an A.C.T. 50th-anniversary event held on Sunday at The Geary, M.F.A. Program alumna Annette Bening and former company member Mark Harelik spoke to seventy students, faculty, and staff about their careers both on stage and on screen.

A.C.T. hosts these conversations as a way for Master of Fine Arts Program and San Francisco Semester (SFS) students to learn from those in the “real world”: those actors and production members who have bravely stepped beyond their four classroom walls and succeeded in the competitive and intimidating landscape that is the world of acting.

Both Bening and Harelik are products of A.C.T.’s programs. Bening graduated from A.C.T.’s top-ranked M.F.A. program and Harelik was an A.C.T. company member in his early career.

The hour addressed multiple topics: Bening’s and Harelik’s respected work together and apart, and their experiences on stage and on the silver screen. They revealed many of the challenges they’ve had to overcome throughout their careers. Bening touched on the insecurity she feels when filming a movie versus the freedom she feels on stage. “In the theater, you never have to look at yourself. It can be so liberating. It’s different in television and movies. I know it can be hard to look at yourself there.”

There was an immense amount of respect felt between both actors as they complimented one another on their past performances. And nearing the end of the conversation when the time for questions began, the actors continued to share honest advice with their audience. Harelik stated a crucial lesson most actors should learn early on in their career when he said, “The most important thing to do is to examine what you can offer, and then be more dedicated to who you are. You don’t need to over manipulate. Attempt to achieve that sense of relaxation within yourself and you’ll realize that what you are naturally is what the directors want.”

Emilianne Lewis is the Marketing and PR Fellow at A.C.T.
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