An Advocate for All: Introducing A.C.T.’s New Young Conservatory Director Jill MacLean

By A.C.T. Publications Staff

A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory has a new leader at its helm: Jill MacLean is the inaugural holder of the Craig Slaight Young Conservatory Directorship. The position was named for her predecessor Craig Slaight who retired this year after almost three decades as the YC’s head. “I’m excited to work with the talented staff and faculty at A.C.T.,” says MacLean, “and to build on the incredible vision established by Craig Slaight.” MacLean was appointed by Artistic Director Carey Perloff in August. “We feel confident that Jill will honor the outstanding legacy of the YC,” says Perloff, “and lead us forward in new and exciting ways as we seek to make the experience of theater accessible to all young people in the Bay Area."

              A.C.T.’s Craig Slaight Director of the Young Conservatory Jill MacLean.
Having taught acting and musical theater at A.C.T. from 2008–12, MacLean was welcomed back with open arms by Perloff and fellow YC staff members. “Aside from being one of our favorite teachers in the YC,” says Perloff, “Jill has a wealth of experience working in theater and education.” The feeling is mutual for MacLean. “I am thrilled to join the A.C.T. family in my new role,” she says. “Combining my love of education and theater, while tapping into the rich artistic resources in the Bay Area and beyond, is a dream come true.”

Passionate about enriching the lives of young people through the arts, MacLean has dedicated more than 20 years to theater and education. She has experience as a director, actor, producer, teacher, and arts program administrator in both New York and the Bay Area. Before receiving an MFA in musical theater, MacLean taught English as a Second Language, Spanish, and drama as a public school teacher. She went on to teach at several Bay Area institutions, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, StageWrite, and Word for Word.

In addition to teaching, MacLean was the Playwrights Foundation’s managing producer, producing the annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She also managed Z Space’s Youth Arts Program. At Lincoln Center Theater, she served as the directors lab assistant for five years, as well as its education associate, and interim associate director of education. She has directed productions for several organizations, including Notre Dame des Victoires in San Francisco, Las Positas College, Bay One Acts, and Sonoma State University.

For MacLean, theater isn’t just a mode of expression, but a tool for discovery. She believes in its ability to inspire young people, and sees the YC as an avenue for such opportunities. “The YC not only provides young actors with stellar theater training from some of the best teaching artists in the industry, but it also creates lifetime theater advocates and audiences,” says MacLean. “We want students who come to A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory to discover and experience new perspectives that empower them.”

To learn more about A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory, click here.

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