M.F.A. Alums Return to Their Theatrical Home

By Emma Penny

“Welcome to Vanity Fair!” The cast of Kate Hamill’s Vanity Fair has slammed into The Geary, bringing some familiar faces. A.C.T. is thrilled to welcome back two alums of our Master of Fine Arts Program: Rebekah Brockman (class of 2013) and Vincent Randazzo (class of 2018). Before these actors made their way across the country, we chatted about their triumphant homecoming to the Geary stage.

As a co-production with Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, Vanity Fair first ran in STC’s Lansburgh Theatre. Did knowing that the show would end up at The Geary influence any of your acting choices in the rehearsal room?
Brockman: It didn’t influence the choices, but it will influence how I play those choices. The Geary is a very steep house, so it’s important to play things up and out so what you are doing reads to the entire audience.

Randazzo: I’m sure we’ll adjust accordingly in The Geary—playing “up to the gods,” as Carey Perloff said about that giant dome. But certain rules apply in all spaces: hitting consonants, being crisp, being clear, and things like that. 

Vincent Randazzo as the King George IV and Rebekah Brockman as Becky Sharp in A.C.T. and Shakespeare Theatre Company's co-production of Vanity Fair. Photo by Scott Suchman.

How did the M.F.A. Program prepare you for Vanity Fair?
Brockman: The accumulation of the classes, the teachers and mentors, and the material we worked with prepared me not only for Vanity Fair, but for any script I encounter. I would have to say Michael Paller’s classes—The World of the Play and The World of the Character—are most influential every time I begin a process. They focused heavily on mining the script for clues the playwright includes to give a better understanding of the play and where your character fits within that world.

Randazzo: In Vanity Fair, I’m constantly coming on and off the stage as different characters, so I rely on Stephen Buescher’s physical theater classes from my second and third year. I make extreme character choices, so the audience doesn’t think, “Oh, that actor’s playing another person,” and instead thinks, “That’s a different character with a different viewpoint and status in life.” Because all these characters are British, we also use dialects to make those people distinct. What can you tell about this person based on just the way they’re speaking?

Vincent Randazzo as Jos Sedley and Rebekah Brockman as Becky Sharp in A.C.T. and Shakespeare Theatre Company's co-production of Vanity Fair. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Any specific SF spots you’re excited to revisit?
Brockman: The Sutro Baths. Hands down. I would always take my scripts or schoolwork over there on my days off to be by the ocean.

Randazzo: I’ll be going up to North Beach, get some Italian sandwiches at Molinari’s, and eat them in the park on a nice day. It’ll also just be good to be back at A.C.T.—my theatrical signpost. It feels good to come home.

Welcome home, Rebekah and Vinny! Get your tickets to see them on the Geary stage (again) in Vanity Fair, running through May 12.

Emma Penny is A.C.T.’s 2018–19 General and Company Management Fellow. She is from Long Island, New York, and earned her BA in arts management from the College of Charleston.

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