Showing posts from 2018

Walking in Their Shoes: An Interview with Suns Cultural Consultant Humaira Ghilzai

By Elspeth Sweatman

For everyone on the team at A.C.T., accurately portraying Afghan culture onstage is an essential part of telling the story of A Thousand Splendid Suns. “True-to-life characters and scenes are forged from an understanding of why people act in certain ways: how their geography, culture, upbringing, and history drive their thoughts and actions,” says cultural consultant Humaira Ghilzai, who joined the Thousand Splendid Suns team for the world premiere in 2017 to help A.C.T. achieve their goal of authenticity. “The main role of a cultural consultant,” she says, “is to bring cultural literacy to a project in order to create an authentic portrayal of Afghan people, their customs, and their languages.” During the development of A Thousand Splendid Suns, we spoke with Ghilzai to get her insight into Afghan culture.

What does a typical Afghan family look like?
In general, an Afghan family consists of two parents (divorces are not very common), their children, and the childre…

From Hecuba to Suns: Director Carey Perloff’s Most Memorable A.C.T. Productions

By Michael Paller
The following blog uses excerpts from A Five-Act Play: 50 Years of A.C.T., by former A.C.T. dramaturg Michael Paller.

A.C.T. Artistic Director Emerita Carey Perloff has directed more than 50 productions that have moved, challenged, and thrilled San Francisco audiences throughout her 25–year tenure. In anticipation of her world-premiere theatrical adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns returning home to The Geary this week, we took a look at a few of her most memorable A.C.T. productions.

Hecuba (1998)

When Perloff asked her friend and colleague Olympia Dukakis which Greek tragedy she’d want to do at A.C.T., the answer came back quickly: Euripides’ Hecuba. In this production, Dukakis gave an overwhelming performance as the Trojan queen who exacts terrible revenge on the king of Thrace for killing her son.

A Doll's House (2004)

Paul Walsh's taut translation of the Henrik Ibsen play continued the A.C.T. tradition of new American translations of Ibsen. Perloff was…

Behind the Scenes at A.C.T.: An Interview with Head Librarian Joseph Tally

By Taylor Steinbeck

Searching for a text on the Meisner technique? Wanting to read the latest Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner? Familiarizing yourself with contemporary women playwrights? Look no further than A.C.T.'s Allen Fletcher Library. Located on the 7th floor of 30 Grant Avenue, A.C.T.'s library is a hidden gem packed with books, scripts, theater-related magazines, and more. Head Librarian Joseph Tally has manned its shelves for nearly twelve years while juggling a position as director of development at San Francisco's Theatre Rhinoceros. We sat down with Tally to talk about the ins and outs of running a library for both a theater company and a graduate school.

How did you become A.C.T.'s librarian?

I was taking acting and auditioning classes at Studio A.C.T. and was making use of the library since Studio students get access to the books. A.C.T. was looking for a librarian and it ended up working out perfectly since I studied library science. 
How would you describ…

The Cast on the Radiant Return of A Thousand Splendid Suns

By Taylor Steinbeck
Since A Thousand Splendid Suns’s dazzling world premiere at The Geary Theater as part of A.C.T.’s 2016–17 season, director Carey Perloff’s production has continued to shine across the globe. This epic and heart wrenching story has emotionally affected audiences of all kinds from Canada's Grand Theatre London and Theatre Calgary to San Diego's The Old Globe. Before Suns makes a return to its theatrical home this week, we spoke to three members of the original cast about taking the show on tour and reprising their roles at the place where it all began.

Jason Kapoor (Abdul Sharif, Jalil, Wakil): The response we got in Canada and San Diego was very positive. In Calgary, there is a large refugee population and in San Diego the military presence was very apparent, but in both locations there was an understanding that the story cuts across culture, race, and region. The story may be set in Afghanistan but everyone can relate to it.

It feels surreal to be back. I ha…

Behind the Scenes at A.C.T.: An Interview with Acting Director of Marketing Christine Miller

By Taylor Steinbeck
Nearly eight years ago, East Coaster Christine Miller made a cross-country move to California to begin her year-long tenure as A.C.T.’s 2010–11 season marketing fellow. What she didn’t know at the time was that she wouldn’t be leaving the streets of San Francisco anytime soon. Flash-forward to 2018 and Miller is now A.C.T.’s Acting Director of Marketing. We sat down with the marketing team’s intrepid leader to celebrate her inspiring career at A.C.T.

For those who aren’t familiar with marketing in the arts world, how do you go about marketing an A.C.T. production?

A Celebration of A.C.T. Artistic Director Emerita Carey Perloff

By Elspeth Sweatman

Over the past year, theater-makers and arts reporters have written about Artistic Director Carey Perloff and her 25-year tenure at the helm of A.C.T. They’ve focused on her herculean efforts to rebuild The Geary Theater after the 1989 earthquake and her work to refurbish The Strand Theater in 2015. They’ve chronicled her tenacity in commissioning new American translations of classic plays, her international collaborations, and her creative partnerships with Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. But these achievements only illuminate one side of this director, storyteller, teacher, and collaborator. Now, it’s our turn to celebrate our energetic, industrious leader for the Renaissance artist that she is.

Carey’s love for the city A.C.T. calls home is evident in the numerous Bay Area stories that she has championed, including After the War, The Tosca Project, and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Her desire to create theater about, for, and with our diverse community ha…

A Farewell from the 2017–18 Season Fellows

By Taylor Steinbeck
Today, the curtain is closing on the 2017–18 season fellowships, giving way to new and exciting journeys to come. For over eleven months, these young theater-makers have played an integral role at A.C.T., taking on tasks that range from evaluating script submissions to organizing donor events to designing mainstage show art. We reached out to a few of the fellows before they departed for their next adventures to find out what the A.C.T. Fellowship Program means to them.

Rachel Stuart (Development Fellow): I couldn’t have asked for a better team to spend this past year with! I was able to get a firsthand look into what it takes to fund a large theater company. My team’s support, knowledge, and guidance has encouraged me to continue my career path as a development professional in the arts.

Bree Willard (Graphic Design Fellow): My experience as a fellow has not only been great for career building—I made most of the work in my portfolio during my time here—but also for t…

1969 Facts and Trivia

By Elspeth Sweatman
From the cost of a gallon of milk to the top radio hits, here are some facts and figures about the year that inspired the story of A Walk on the Moon—1969!

US President

Richard M. Nixon


San Francisco: 715,600
United States: 202,676,900
World: 3,609,000,000

Cost of Living

Value of today’s dollar: $6.94
Average income: $8,550 per year
Minimum wage: $1.60 per hour
Average new car: $2,000
Gallon of gas: $0.35
Average house: $27,900
Gallon of milk: $1.10
Dozen eggs: $0.62
Pound of sugar: $0.12
Black-and-white television: $125
Color television: $800
Top-Grossing Movies

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
2. Midnight Cowboy
3. Easy Rider
4. Hello, Dolly!
5. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Famous Books Published in 1969

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
The Andromeda Strain …

Timeless: An Interview with A Walk on the Moon Movie Director Tony Goldwyn

By Taylor Steinbeck

Actor and filmmaker Tony Goldwyn originally signed onto the 1999 film A Walk on the Moon as a producer, but once he started working on the script with screenwriter Pamela Gray, his priorities shifted. After two years of rewrites, there was still no director, so Goldwyn—eager to preserve the script's vision—stepped up to the plate. Nearly 20 years after Goldwyn’s directorial debut, with Moon now a successful musical on the Geary stage, we called up the star of ABC’s Scandal to find out why this story remains so close to his heart.

What initially drew you to Pamela Gray’s script?

The Catskill bungalow colonies was a part of the Jewish experience I was not raised in at all and it was so colorful and fabulous. I was captivated by it. And more importantly, I really related to Pearl’s journey of being a person who found herself trapped in a life that she felt wasn’t of her own choosing. And then to take the year of 1969, when our whole cultural fabric was at the apex…