Showing posts from August, 2019

Theater Education with Larkin Street Youth Services

By Claire L. Wong “Theater happens everywhere,” says Stephanie Wilborn, the community programs manager at A.C.T. Wilborn has been involved in theater education and community arts organizing for over a decade. Her mission is to use theater and social justice as a platform to give voice to those who are often overlooked or underrepresented onstage. “Theater is really about connection, finding your voice,” she says. One of her roles at A.C.T. is collaborating with Larkin Street Youth Services, a San Francisco nonprofit helping youth to move beyond the street. Photo Courtesy Larkin Street Youth Services. California is home to the highest number of young people experiencing homelessness in the country (38% of the nation’s total). Each year, 2,500 youth walk through Larkin Street’s doors. There are many factors that cause youth homelessness: abuse and conflict with a parent or guardian; a worsening affordability crisis compounded by unemployment; and involvement in the child wel

Journey to the Top: Cast and Creative Team Begin Rehearsals for Top Girls

By Claire L. Wong “Messy, messy women,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls . As the cast, creative team, and company members gathered at A.C.T. for the first rehearsal, MacKinnon addressed the company. “These are messy, human people. You’re not going to find a hero in this. It’s a messy world.” Director Tamilla Woodard discusses Top Girls . Photo by Claire L. Wong. This muck and mire and mess aptly describes the world of Top Girls . In 1980s England, Marlene’s rise through the corporate ranks is hard-won. As her ambition vaults her to the top, she isn’t concerned with bringing other women along with her. The opening scene in the play features historical and legendary women who gather for a dazzling dinner party to celebrate Marlene’s latest promotion. The production examines the generational inheritance of what women, and particularly women of color, experience in the workplace. Director Tamilla Woodard says, “There are a lot of women her

Young Conservatory Actors Talk About Into the Woods

By Claire L. Wong Just as the set, lighting, and costumes conjure the story world of a show, so too do the narrators of Into the Woods immerse audiences in the lives of the characters. Director Ken Savage’s Young Conservatory production emphasizes the act of storytelling in making everyday life magical. The production features three narrators, actors Pablo Gracia, Keira Lally, and Samantha Resser, who guide the audience through the twists and turns in each tale. LEFT: Pablo Gracia; CENTER: Keira Lally; RIGHT: Samantha Resser. “I like that every narrator tells a different fairytale and how we respond and react to every story,” Gracia says. “The best part about being the Baker’s narrator is how I reveal his unfortunate life and help tie everything together.” The disparate threads that weave the stories together also reflect Resser’s favorite part of Into the Woods . “I love the details,” Resser says. “It’s a detailed play, and an addition to a line in the opening could al

Rage, Spirit, and a Wink: A.C.T.'s 2019–20 Season

By Claire L. Wong Rules are made to be broken—and interrogated, rewritten, and overcome. The 2019–20 season at American Conservatory Theater features stories that examine the established rules of engagement, their violent and tumultuous histories, and the people chafing against these constraints. “Told with decorum, rage, spirit, and a wink,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon, “this season’s offerings continue A.C.T.’s tradition of telling stories that provoke responses and lead to debates, dreams, and even action.” Women are pushing back against the rules of oppression in A.C.T.’s first two productions of the 2019–20 season. Tamilla Woodard ( Men on Boats ) returns to A.C.T. for her Geary Theater debut directing Caryl Churchill’s acclaimed modern classic Top Girls . Audiences may remember returning actors Rosie Hallett, who worked alongside Woodard in Men on Boats (2018), and Michelle Beck, last seen at the Geary in King Charles III (2016). In Margaret Thatcher’s d

Into the Woods Without Delay: Five Facts about Sondheim's Beloved Musical

By A.C.T. Publications Team  Only two more days before we go into the woods! To get you prepared for the journey, here are five fun facts about the musical. A.C.T.'s Young Conservatory Production of Into the Woods . 1. Book writer James Lapine wrote a script that interwove several fairy tales—Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood—and sent it to composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, saying “You'll never be able to musicalize this.” Sondheim accepted his challenge. 2. An early draft of the musical featured Rumpelstiltskin and the Three Pigs. In the 2002 revival, the pigs were put back in. 3. Sondheim doesn't like actors to make lyric suggestions, but when original Baker's Wife Joanna Gleason said that she felt like her character was in the wrong story when she meets Cinderella's Prince in Act Two, he made an exception. 4. The musical was (intentionally or unintentionally) quoted by President Barack Obama in an address on the tenth anniversary of