Showing posts from July, 2018

A Personal Connection: An Interview with A.C.T.'s New Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon

By Simon Hodgson

This month, Pam MacKinnon officially took the reins as A.C.T.'s artistic director. As she plans for our upcoming 2018–19 season, we sat down with MacKinnon to talk about her own story and what's ahead.

What are you looking forward to at A.C.T.?

Having an artistic home. I have always been a freelance director and that is a wonderful thing, hopping from project to project, accruing an artistic family along the way. But I’ve never been part of an institution, let alone a leader of an institution. So to dig into a place and really get to know an audience is very exciting to me.

What attracts you to San Francisco?

San Francisco is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city, a seat of innovation and higher learning, and a crown jewel of this country. Like a lot of American cities, it’s learning how to deal and manage and live with great new wealth next to people who are struggling and desperate. There is something very alive and thrilling in San Francisco.

You’ve been a freelan…

The Cast of Suns on Why This Play Matters Now

By Taylor Steinbeck

Over the past year, A Thousand Splendid Suns has moved audiences across Canada and at San Diego's Old Globe. But this story of three resilient Afghan women has also captivated the show's cast, some of whom have been a part of this production since its world premiere at A.C.T. in February 2017. Before Suns's limited two-week run at The Geary Theater this month, we spoke to three of the cast members to hear what this moving story means to them.

Nikita Tewani (Aziza): The stories of the country, culture, and people portrayed in A Thousand Splendid Suns are largely untold. If they are in the media, the representation is more often than not a negative one. Every time I step on that stage, I am honoring these people: women who normally don’t get to share their stories. This play shows the humanity of what’s really happening in these countries—why refugees become refugees and why they need our help. Our world needs stories like this right now. As an actress of…

A Summer of Discovery at A.C.T.: A Place to Belong and Urinetown: The Musical

By Stephanie Wilborn

The young actors in A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory (YC) and Education & Community Programs have been working hard, both inside the rehearsal room and out. Over the past few weeks, the talented casts of A Place to Belong by Marisela Treviño Orta—this year’s Collaborative Youth Arts Project, which begins performances today at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater—and Urinetown: The Musical have teamed up with organizations throughout the Bay Area to explore the complex issues in these plays and in their lives.

One of these organizations is Urban Displacement, a nonprofit research and action initiative of UC Berkeley, the University of Portland, and UCLA that maps displacement in California. In a workshop during rehearsals for A Place to Belong—which explores gentrification through the eyes of Bay Area teens—the young actors from A.C.T.’s YC, Education & Community Programs, and Destiny Arts Center created poems based on their neighborhoods and talked about their own experien…

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…