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Showing posts from February, 2020

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond on Toni Stone

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By Ted Sod
Award-winning Toni Stone playwright Lydia R. Diamond grew up in a family of educators and musicians. She found playwriting in her third year at Northwestern while studying theater, and went on to act professionally for 10 years while writing and producing her own plays. It wasn’t until her first regional theater production of The Gift Horse at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Diamond says, that she understood “I was happier and more adept at writing plays than being in them.”

Toni Stone premiered at Roundabout Theatre Company in 2019 before coming here to San Francisco. In addition to Toni Stone,Diamond’s playwriting career is expansive. Her other works include Smart People, Stick Fly (Broadway run at Cort Theatre), Voyeurs de Venus, Harriet Jacobs, and The Bluest Eye. She has also worked in television, and was a writer/ consulting producer for Showtime’s fourth season of The Affair, for which she was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Drama. Diamond, an educator hersel…

Rites of Passage: Catch MFA Actors in Their Final Show

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By Claire L. Wong

Would you choose your friends over your country? It’s a question the third-year MFA students in the class of 2020 grapple with in Passage, directed by Victor Malana Maog and written by Obie Award–winning local playwright Christopher Chen. Drawing on E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, Chen explores biases, blurred lines, and bigotry—issues affecting communities right here in the Bay Area and across the globe—and asks if friendships can survive in this imbalanced world.

A.C.T.'s MFA class of 2020. Photo by Kevin Berne.
Passage received a five-star review in Time Out New York, calling it “an extraordinary new play . . . unashamedly political yet deeply humane . . . dares to raise questions that make the audience profoundly uncomfortable, but simultaneously creates a welcoming space to which everyone is invited.”
“It’s a fantastical examination of colonialism and xenophobia,” says Associate Producer Ken Savage, “and it’s in conversation with TestmatchPassage looks a…

Director Eric Ting on Gloria (Part Two)

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By Claire L. Wong

A champion of new works, Eric Ting has directed such world-premiere productions as Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation... (2012; Obie Award) to Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap (2018) and The 1491s’ Between Two Knees (2019). This passion for new works is evident in Ting’s continued collaboration with his longtime friend and Gloria playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Ting previously directed two works by Jacobs-Jenkins, Appropriate (2015), a drama about an American family with contentious secrets, and An Octoroon (2017), a Brechtian critique of the portrayal of race in theater.

In Gloria, as in An Octoroon and Appropriate, there are layers to be uncovered in the subject matter of Jacobs-Jenkins’s plays and the bold way that the playwright confronts his audience. “Are these stories trying to shock us or make sense of shock?” asks the director. Ting’s excellence in unraveling his friend’s stories at each layer has made him a trusted interpreter of J…

Director Eric Ting on Gloria (Part One)

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By Claire L. Wong 
“Think of the Greek gods,” says director Eric Ting. “Stories arise from our need to make sense of our world, to understand trauma and disaster.” Ting has been called a magician by the New Yorker, and his work “powerfully and ultimately sublime” by Variety. It’s no wonder he’s received critical respect nationwide, from TBA Awards here in the Bay Area to an Obie Award in New York. We spoke with him about his work on A.C.T.’s production of Gloria, written by his longtime friend and Gloria playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

Movement Coach Danyon Davis, Stage Manager Christina Hogan, Director Eric Ting, Voice and Dialect Coach Lisa Anne Porter, and actor Martha Brigham work on A.C.T.’s 2020 production of Gloria. Photo by Simon Hodgson.

What draws you to Branden’s plays?
There are these moments where, through the experience of a certain character, you recognize a sense of grace living in the heart of his plays. As much as they are often a collective reckoning, I like to thi…