On to the Next Stage of Life

By Annie Sears

The end of a schoolyear often brings a medley of emotions, a peculiar blend of nostalgia and the energizing promise of what’s to come. This is certainly true for the A.C.T. community as we say goodbye to the 13 members of our M.F.A. class of 2019. For the last three years, these citizen artists have enriched Bay Area theater with their desire to learn and their joy in the creative process. So where are these recent graduates headed?

The M.F.A. class of 2019. Photo by Miranda Ashland.

Göran Norquist isn’t leaving—at least for a month. He’s on A.C.T.’s mainstage as Marcel in Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, playing through June 23 at The Geary. Several other classmates are also staying in the Bay. Caleb Lewis is getting married here next week. He’s a twin, and his fraternal twin is also getting married this summer. “But to be clear,” joked Lewis, “I asked my fiancé first, and we’re getting married first too!” Jerrie R. Johnson will star in her one-woman show A Crooked Room as part of the 22nd Annual National Queer Arts Festival. After that, she’ll play Titania in California Shakespeare Theater’s upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Avanthika Srinivasan—who is not only a talented actor, but also an avid scuba diver—will perform in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of The Fit by A.C.T. Artistic Director Emerita Carey Perloff, playing at The Strand through June 29. Her classmate Ash Malloy will also work with SF Playhouse, starring as Sofia in the West Coast premiere of Clare Barron’s Dance Nation this fall.

M.F.A. graduates Avanthika Srinivasan and Ash Malloy on the Strand stage at commencement. Photo courtesy Avanthika Srinivasan.

Other graduates are headed from the Bay Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge. Charlie O’Rourke, Afua Busia, and Carlos Andrickson are all moving to New York to launch their careers, but not before a few detours. Busia will visit Ghana and the Ivory Coast this summer, while Andrickson and his wife April will celebrate their first anniversary in Hawaii before road-tripping to NYC. April served as our faithful front desk associate while Carlos completed school, and the couple were married on the Strand stage last May. Will Hoeschler is also moving to NYC with plans to produce a solo show this fall. But before that, this world champion logroller (for real, he’s a world champion logroller) will get back in the water. Hoeschler hasn’t competed since before beginning graduate school, and he’s excited to return to a familiar passion.

A.C.T. M.F.A. graduates Jerrie R. Johnson and Afua Busia in the Strand lobby after commencement. Photo courtesy Jerrie R. Johnson.

Over the last three years, these students have spent tremendous amounts of time together—often 13-hour days, six days a week. They’ve created works of art that explore the reality of being human while living that human reality with one another. “My dear class,” said Adam Donovan in his commencement speech, “we’ve seen valuable, ugly, passionate, and inspiring humanity from one another, in and out of the classroom. I’m grateful to all of you for all of it. The future is grand, and life is wonderfully and unequivocally long and delicious. There might be hardship, mistakes, addiction, rejection, and pain—out of which will spring growth, light, laughter, joy, legacy, accomplishment and many a celebration.”

We’re proud to celebrate this milestone with these graduates right now, and we look forward to celebrating all their accomplishments to come.

Want to learn more about A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program? Click here.

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