Behind the Scenes at A.C.T.: An Interview with Subscriptions Manager Mark C. Peters

By Annie Sears

Meet Mark Peters, a master of repurposing thrifted fabric, auditioning for the Amazing Race (he’s submitted four video auditions and attended six open calls), and maintaining a morning routine: meditation, followed by yoga, followed by breakfast and a crossword puzzle—which is surprisingly similar to his work here at A.C.T. as our subscriptions manager. We recently sat down with Peters to hear about his 32 years here at A.C.T.

A.C.T.'s Subscriptions Manager Mark Peters. Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
How would you describe your job to someone that doesn’t know anything about it?
It’s a giant puzzle, and I love puzzles. Our subscribers get to choose their seats, and keep those same seats for each show they attend. So when we get new subscribers or have subscribers who want to change their seats—that’s my favorite part. I have to say, “Okay, this person wants to move to Saturday night, so I can get this person into this space. And what if I shift this person here?” I do my best to take care of every subscriber. The biggest puzzles were after the earthquake in 1989.

What was that like?
I was in The Geary when it happened. My friend and I were down in Fred’s Columbia Room when it started—boom, boom! Plaster was falling from the ceiling, and we ran into the bathroom doorway. Lore is that you’re supposed to stand in a doorway. But why? Who knows. When it finally stopped—it felt like it went on for minutes, even though it was seconds—I remember going upstairs, opening up the door to the theater, seeing all the dust from 100 years that had fallen down, and standing there with my jaw dropped.

After that, A.C.T. went on our “world tour” and performed in other theaters until 1996, which was tricky for me. The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, for example, has continental seating. So when you’re seating subscribers, how do you determine what’s your “orchestra” level and what’s your “balcony” level? Even after we got back into The Geary, things were challenging. We went down to 16 rows on the orchestra level to get more leg room, and we took out ten rows in the balcony to build a stabilizing wall. So how do you seat subscribers in the same spots when those seats are gone?

Mark and his "Fun-o-Meter" Pin. Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
What do you love about theater?
I’ve always been amazed by the productions we do here. When we did Angels in America, I saw each part six times. I saw The Black Rider five times, and Stuck Elevator three times. That’s a joy of working here: when I like something, I have the chance to see it again and again. And with theater, it’s never really the same show because the audience reacts differently each performance. When the lights go down right before a show starts, I feel like a little kid. My eyes get really big, and I get a big smile on my face because there’s something magic about a show happening live—what’s going to happen? I mean, I’ve read all the scripts and been to all the design presentations, so I know what’s going to happen. But there’s still a magic in the theater. I love that.

Want to interact with Mark? Reach out about our subscription options by calling 415.749.2250 or sending an email to mpeters@act-sf.org.

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