New Play Commissions

A.C.T. is expanding its commissions and residencies to include translations, adaptations, and original works from the artists we love. Our current commissions include interdisciplinary projects, San Francisco–inspired stories, and work that has an international lens.

See below for the projects that are currently in development at A.C.T.  

This program is made possible by Hewlett Foundation’s New Works Endowment and by the Edgerton Foundation Fund for New American Theatre.


Launching in 2017, the New Strands Residency gives emerging and established American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater. Each year, A.C.T. will partner with a nationally recognized new-work incubator to select three playwrights, who will spend a week in San Francisco. Over the course of their residency, the playwrights will participate in a reading of their work, develop and workshop their plays-in-progress with directors and a shared ensemble of actors, and sit on various panel discussions. The New Strands Residency culminates with a free public presentation of their work during A.C.T.’s annual New Strands Festival, now in its second year, taking place May 19–21, 2017.

The inaugural partner theater company is the Drama Desk and OBIE Award–winning not-for-profit Ma-Yi Theater Company. Based in New York City, Ma-Yi Theater Company is one of the country’s leading incubators of new work – generated by their in-house Writers Lab - shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.  The selected plays and playwrights will be announced in early 2017.




How to Catch Creation

by Christina Anderson
Directed by Daniella Topol

Named by American Theatre magazine as one of the 15 up-and coming artists “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come,” the author of Good Goods and Man in Love is creating an original work– inspired by the Central Market Neighborhood surrounding The Strand Theater– that investigates the desire for fatherhood in an ex-con shackled by his past.

Port City

by Chris Chen
Music by Byron Au Yong

Bay Area playwright Chris Chen and composer Byron Au Yong explore the psychological and philosophical questions of how technology has shaped our lives, in this musical fable framed as a spectacular product launch.

The Hill

by Aleshea Harris

Los Angeles-based playwright Aleshea Harris explores the stories, dreams, questions, and connections of people living in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point in her adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, in collaboration with A.C.T.’s Stage Coach program supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.


by Federico García Lorca
in a new translation by Melinda Lopez
Directed by Melia Bensussen

Federico García Lorca’s  achingly poignant play about the collision between the extremity of one woman’s longing and a community’s pressure to conform will find  fresh expression in a new translation/adaptation with music, by playwright Melinda Lopez, working in collaboration with director Melia Bensussen.

Don Carlos

by Friedrich Schiller
in a new translation by Domenique Lozano
Friedrich Schiller’s (Mary Stuart) passionate drama about power, love, and politics, pits the young prince Don Carlos against his aging, tyrannical father King Philip II of Spain. Both love the King’s young bride, Queen Elizabeth.  But more is at stake, as the Marquis of Posa urges Carlos to oppose Philip and fight for the future of freedom and democracy in Europe..

The Happiness of Fish

by Dave Malloy
Directed by Rachel Chavkin

The author/composer of the Broadway-bound Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 explores atheism and theism through the lenses of movement, beauty, and Taoism in this music-theater piece.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Ursula Rani Sarma
Directed by Carey Perloff

Acclaimed Irish-Indian playwright Ursula Rani Sarma adapts beloved Bay Area author Khaled Hosseini’s  (The Kite Runner) best-selling, intimate story about the remarkable bond between two Afghan women of different generations, set against an epic background of love and war. A Thousand Splendid Suns will premiere on the Geary stage in the 2016/2017 season.


The Aspern Papers

by Colm Tóibín
Directed by Maria Aitken

Award-winning Irish writer Colm Tóibín crafts a brand-new tale from the real-life details of Henry James’s relationship with the American writer Constance Fenimore Woolson, James’s fiction, and his own fertile imagination. It’s ambition and love betrayed set among the crumbling palazzi of glittering Venice. 



Collaborative Youth Arts Project

By Nikkole Salter
Directed by Tyrone Davis

This will be a world premiere combining a cast of young actors from the A.C.T. Education & Community Programs, Destiny Arts in Oakland, and the Young Conservatory. Now in its second year, this initiative brings together a diverse group of young actors from throughout the Bay Area to create a play focused on articulating the needs and challenges of youth in today’s world. Nikkole Salter, a nationally recognized playwright, is creating a play especially for 12 young actors from three different arts communities, united in an exciting production performed in The Rueff at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater and at Destiny Arts Center in Oakland this summer of 2016.

The Life to Come

by Timothy Mason
Directed by Domenique Lozano

Set in 1918, as the United States of America take their place alongside the rest of the allies in WWI. An enchanting play about friendship, betrayal and enduring hope, The Life to Come tells the story of 8 young students facing uncertain futures. Who will thrive and who will not? Who knows what the life to come will bring? The culmination of a two year exchange project, The Life to Come is a co-commission with A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory and Aberdeen Performing Arts, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, Scotland and it will be performed in The Rueff in February 2017.



by Lachlan Philpot

Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott, in collaboration with the M.F.A. Program class of 2017, interweave real and mythological San Francisco, looking at loss and connection in the city in his new play promiscuous/cities, which will be performed in the A.C.T. Costume Shop in the 2016/2017 season.


Conceived by Carey Perloff, Sheldon Smith, and Stephen Buescher

And in collaboration with performers Basil Twist, Bill Irwin, Pascal Molat, Gregory Wallace, Bruce Turk, and Peter Anderson and sound designer Darron L. West.

Fatherville is a non-verbal, devised exploration of lost fathers, wishful sons, shooting-gallery machismo, and funfair parenting.

Joanna Haigood / Zaccho Dance Theatre

Zaccho Dance Theatre, led by Joanna Haigood, is creating a site specific installation piece in The Strand Theater that draws from the history of the building and from classic mystery films.








Theater pieces inspired by Lysley Tenorio's Monstress: Stories produced in the 2015–16 season


A team of three writers journeyed through San Francisco–based author Lysley Tenorio's quirky and moving short stories of Filipino immigration, unrealized dreams, loss of youth and place, and generational and cultural clashes.



Save the I-Hotel adapted by Philip Kan Gotanda from Lysley Tenorio's Save the I-Hotel and Presenting…the Monstress! adapted by Sean San José from Lysley Tenorio's Monstress were presented as a double-bill at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater in Fall 2015.



The Brother(s) adapted by Colman Domingo from Lysley Tenorio's The Brothers received a special workshop presentation during the run of Monstress.

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