In Memoriam: Joan Sadler

By A.C.T. Publications Staff

A.C.T. mourns the loss of Joan Sadler, one of our most energetic and beloved board members, who passed away on Sunday, March 26.

Joan Sadler and Carey Perloff at the
2013 A.C.T. Conservatory Awards Luncheon.
Joan has been a part of A.C.T.’s family since the beginning. Just after moving to the Bay area in 1966, she attended the opening night performance of Tartuffe, A.C.T.’s first production in The Geary Theater. She was so moved that she immediately began supporting the company, bringing her tireless creative energy and experience as a freelance actor, broadcaster, visual artist, and photographer to the company’s volunteer organization, the Friends of A.C.T. She then served as secretary and vice president of the California Association for A.C.T., a fundraising foundation that helped keep the company afloat as it established itself in San Francisco.

When founding artistic director William Ball retired in 1986, Joan was active in A.C.T.’s reorganization, serving as president of the newly formed A.C.T. Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1989. She helped guide the organization as it undertook the search for a new artistic director.

After her retirement, Joan served on A.C.T.’s Conservatory Committee. She was particularly inspired by the role the Conservatory plays in contributing to the strength of A.C.T., and the culture of San Francisco. In 2002, she established the annual Joan Sadler Award, given to a third-year A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program actor for his or her exemplary work, both as a student and as a graduate who will represent the highest standards and traditions of the theatrical art.

Joan Sadler, H. Harrison Sadler, and William H. Draper, III. 1967.
In 2013, Joan received A.C.T.’s Benefactor Award for her tireless support and nurturing enthusiasm for the next generation of theater artists.

“Joan Sadler was one of the true ‘founding mothers’ of A.C.T.,” says Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “It was she who always said that the most important thing about A.C.T. was its focus on the future. She was passionate about the M.F.A. Program and watched with incredible pride the success of our graduates. I think the reason Joan seemed vital and young to me well into her nineties was the joy she took in the new, in the risk-taking, in artistic dreams and bold adventures. She just delighted in watching the creative process. A week before her death, I had the most vigorous conversation with Joan about our 50th Anniversary Open House at the Geary; she was immensely frustrated she couldn't be there herself, and wanted all the gossip and all the news! I know now she is looking down on us with those sparking eyes and enormous grin, urging us to keep the great experiment alive. Bless you, Joan!”

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