The Strand Theater Celebrates 100 Years!

By Taylor Steinbeck

Today, October 27, A.C.T.'s Strand Theater turns 100 years old. Since its sparkling renovation in 2015, The Strand has become a beacon of theatrical innovation and community engagement in the Bay Area. From presenting new plays in the New Strands Festival to sharing our stage with entertainers of all kinds through the @TheStrand series, A.C.T. has reinvented this historic theater. 

The Strand Theater in 1938. Courtesy Greg King.
Located in San Francisco’s old vaudeville district, dubbed the “Great White Way” for its marquee lights, The Strand has been rooted in the arts since its 1917 foundation. Despite changes in the building’s name (it started life as The Jewel) and its offerings (it was once a silent film cinema), this venue was always a theater. But when operations closed in 2003, the building became derelict. In October 2013, A.C.T. began a two-year, $35-million transformation, converting the 700-seat cinema into a community destination featuring the Strand Cafe, the 283-seat Rembe Theater, and the 140-seat performance space, The Rueff. The reconstruction not only represented growth for A.C.T. as an institution, but also marked the revitalization of the Central Market neighborhood. 

To learn more about The Strand's rich history, check out our video below.

From the moment A.C.T. moved in, The Strand was envisioned as an incubator of new theater in the Bay Area. Nowhere is that more visible than with the New Strands Festival, a weeklong exploration of new work. During the 2017 festival, San Franciscans experienced master classes in songwriting, playwriting, and clowning; saw staged readings of work from three Ma-Yi Theater Company playwrights; and attended readings of A.C.T. commissioned plays as works-in-progress. From developing new plays to producing innovative productions such as The Unfortunates, Monstress, and Small Mouth Sounds (which opened this week), The Strand has provided a home for thrilling untold stories from diverse communities.

The Strand in 2015 after its reopening. Photo by Bruce Damonte.
And with the introduction last season of our @TheStrand series—world-class entertainment from around the country—new audiences filled The Rembe for productions including Bill Irwin’s On Beckett, Martin Moran’s solo show The Tricky Part, and concerts from The Skivvies. Tickets are now on-sale for comedian Colin Quinn (Saturday Night Live, Trainwreck) who plays a weeklong set @TheStrand in December.

As The Strand evolves, San Franciscans continue to discover this multidisciplinary venue, from a morning coffee in the Strand Cafe, to an M.F.A. Program matinee, to a night of stand-up comedy. By developing groundbreaking work and reinvigorating the arts in Central Market, The Strand is making San Francisco history all over again.

Small Mouth Sounds runs through December 10 at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. Click here to purchase tickets through our website. Colin Quinn: One in Every Crowd runs for four performances only, December 14–17. To purchase tickets, click here.

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