Student Matinees

Hello, Educators!


We are delighted to introduce A.C.T.’s 2018–19 Student Matinee (SMAT) Program. Whether you’re new to A.C.T. or have made our productions a regular part of your school year for decades, we invite you and your students to experience our insightful, engaging, and transformative upcoming season. Read on for your exclusive opportunity to order advance tickets.

One of the first companies in the nation to offer low-cost performance tickets to schoolchildren, A.C.T. has brought the power of live theater to hundreds of thousands of students since the company’s arrival in San Francisco in 1967. Each year, our SMAT Program introduces the joy of theatrical storytelling to young audiences from all over the Bay Area and beyond, many of whom would not otherwise attend theater. Join us for the highest-quality productions and unique ACTsmart workshops customized for your students—all at very affordable prices. Only at A.C.T. can you experience theatrical storytelling in its most dynamic expression as we strive to bring you large-scale, multidisciplinary productions of our culture’s greatest classic and contemporary dramatic literature.

A.C.T. kicks off the 2018–19 season with Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Sweat, a searing, heartfelt drama about blue-collar Rust Belt workers questioning the American Dream while facing a recession. Next up at The Strand, we explore the waterways of the American West with Men on Boats, Jaclyn Backhaus’s “thrilling, gender-flipped slice of Manifest Destiny” (Time Out New York). And this December the Bay Area’s beloved holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol, returns to The Geary with humbug-busting Yuletide festivity.

We’ll start 2019 at The Geary with new Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon’s A.C.T. directorial debut, Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning comedy Seascape, and at The Strand with Mfoniso Udofia’s Her Portmanteau, a taut and achingly poignant drama exploring the multigenerational bonds of a Nigerian family living in the United States. In spring 2019, we’ll take a trip through time and across cultures from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of revolution with buzzer-beating basketball drama The Great Leap, and revisit William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel Vanity Fair in a rollicking new stage adaptation featuring one of literature’s original “nasty women.”

A.C.T.’s 2018–19 season continues A.C.T.’s more than 50-year tradition of combining classic with contemporary—exploring powerful stories by celebrated artists and introducing extraordinary emerging voices in American theater. This is a season you and your students simply must see!

Thank you for being such a vibrant and integral part of the A.C.T. community.

See you at the theater!


Elizabeth Brodersen
Director of Education

New SMAT Start Time!

All 2018–19 Student Matinees
will begin at 11 a.m.


SMAT Order Form


Getting Here

Directions to A.C.T.’s Geary
and Strand Theaters



Call 415.439.2306  


A.C.T. Mainstage Productions


by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Tamilla Woodard

Nov 14, 2018 at 11 a.m.
A.C.T.'s Strand Theater
Grades 8–12

Spinning historical, theatrical, and gender conventions on their heads, this subversive tale of 10 men, four boats, and two rivers contains none of the above.

Pack your gear for this 21st-century telling of 19th-century American explorer and one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, who assembles a brawny band of soldiers, trappers, and adventurers to explore the waterways of the American West. Inspired by Powell’s actual travel log from 1869, Jaclyn Backhaus’s nimble and ingenious script is provocative, laugh-out-loud theater, performed by a cast of women who infuse America’s historic myths of male conquest with a sly blast of subtext.

With the speed and force of Powell’s white-water rapids, Backhaus conjures her epic story—in which simple materials are transformed into perilous canyons and death-defying cliffs—out of sheer imagination, shaping an innovative and innately theatrical play that became an off-Broadway sensation.


by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh
Music by Karl Lundeberg
Choreography by Val Caniparoli
Directed by Domenique Lozano
Based on the Original Direction by Carey Perloff

Dec 5, 2018
at 11 a.m.
Dec 6, 2018 at 11 a.m.
Dec 11, 2018 at 11 a.m.

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
Grades 1–12

Featuring a lively cast of dozens, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area’s favorite holiday tradition returns with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your “humbugs” at the door!

Running time: 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission

“A smash hit! Holiday traditions don’t get any better.”

Stark Insider

“The best Christmas Carol ever . . . a guaranteed good time!”
Jan Wahl, KCBS AM & FM


Directed by Pam MacKinnon

Feb 1, 2019
at 11 a.m.
A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
Grades 8–12

In her A.C.T. debut, Artistic Director Designate Pam MacKinnon continues her career-long exploration of American theater’s legendary playwright, Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?).

In this wildly imaginative and satirical comedy, a newly retired couple picnics on a beach and squabbles about their life together when they are interrupted by two human-sized, English-speaking lizards. Are the newcomers an evolutionary miracle, or a threat? And which couple is the greater risk to the other?

As the two pairs begin to communicate, they come uneasily together, discovering how transitions in life can spark terror and restlessness in any creature of habit. Albee returns to The Geary for the first time in a decade, with a sparkling fantasy of growing up and growing old, fear and adventure, love and laughter.


by Lauren Yee
Directed by Lisa Peterson

Mar 15, 2019 at 11 a.m.
A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
Grades 8–12

When a college basketball team from San Francisco is invited to China for an exhibition game in 1989, a smack-talking American coach prepares to take on his protégé [played by Tony Award winner BD Wong]—now grown and bent on crushing the Westerners. But after a public high school star from Chinatown joins the American team, his actions in Beijing become the accidental focus of attention, escalating the fractured history between the coaches.

Funny, urgent, and contemporary, this slam dunk of a sports drama from award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee explores identity, global politics, and the collision of cultures and generations. Soaring through time and leaping across continents from the hardball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Beijing on the brink of revolution, The Great Leap builds tension right up to the buzzer.


by Mfoniso Udofia
Directed by Victor Malana Maog

Apr 10, 2019 at 11 a.m.
A.C.T.'s Strand Theater
Grades 8–12

From an extraordinary new voice in American theater comes this taut and achingly poignant drama exploring the multigenerational bonds of a Nigerian family living in the United States.

Traveling from Lagos to visit her mother and American-born sister for the first time in two decades, thirtysomething Iniabasi arrives to a snowy landscape, and even chillier truths inside a small Manhattan apartment. As Nigerian traditions clash with American realities, the family is forced to confront its literal and emotional baggage and its painful legacies across language, continents, and cultures.

Playwright Mfoniso Udofia, a graduate of A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program, won acclaim in New York—now A.C.T. joins with Magic Theatre, to each present one, independent chapter from Udofia’s sweeping nine-part saga about a family of Nigerian immigrants and their American-born children. Pulsing with humor and heartache, this tender and hopeful window into an evolving family is “a reminder that most Americans share a common origin story” (The New York Times).


by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray
Directed by Jessica Stone
A coproduction with Shakespeare Theatre Company

Apr 26, 2019
at 11 a.m.
A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
Grades 8–12

From acclaimed playwright Kate Hamill (2017 Playwright of the Year, Wall Street Journal) comes a rollicking new stage adaptation of William Thackeray’s classic 19th-century novel that pops with 21st-century spirit.

Ambitious Becky Sharp may not have been born with wealth or status, but she’s determined to attain both—at any cost. Armed with fierce wit and calculating charm, Becky forges her own path through London’s high society, dealing herself into a game she was never invited to play.

Displaying the celebrated audacity and verve that she brought to her adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, Hamill conjures an inventive and lively period drama featuring one of literature’s original “nasty women."


Master of Fine Arts Program Performances


Three Sisters
by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Lavina Jadhwani
Sep 27, 2018 (Time TBD)
A.C.T.’s Strand Theater

Created Movement Project

Oct 11, 2018
The Costume Shop Theater

School for Scandal

by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Directed by Christine Adaire
Nov 15, 2018
The Rueff at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater

Both Your Houses

by Susan Soon He Stanton
Directed by Mina Morita
Feb 28, 2019
The Rueff at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater

Will on Wheels Shakespeare Tour
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Dawn Monique Williams
March 11–25, 2019

M.F.A. Spring Reps
Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen
Adapted by Kate Hamill

May 8, 2019
The Rueff at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater


TBD Spring Rep


May 9, 2019
The Costume Shop Theater


More information about 2018–19 Master of Fine Arts Program performances will be available in August 2018.

Student Matinee Basic Information

  • We are currently reviewing the start time for student matinees for the 2018–19 season. To share your thoughts, please click here to fill out our short survey.
  • Following each performance there will be a brief, lively conversation between the cast and students (attendance is optional).
  • A.C.T. provides one complimentary ticket for every 10 purchased tickets.
  • Teachers receive an electronic copy of Words on Plays, A.C.T.'s nationally acclaimed performance guide, approximately two weeks before each scheduled performance. Packed with fascinating articles and interviews, intriguing study questions, and essential background information, these guides are the perfect way to prepare your students to engage with the world of each play.
  • If the student matinee you request is sold out, orders may be placed on a waiting list. Waiting list orders will be confirmed at least two weeks before the performance. Payment must accompany waiting list orders but will not be processed unless your seats are confirmed.
  • Seating priority is based on receipt of full payment.
  • A.C.T. also offers affordable student-group rates for regular performances of these productions.


ACTsmart Workshops

A.C.T. also offers innovative workshops, led by master teaching artists, designed to enhance your student matinee experience. Whether you want to introduce your students to a play's plot and characters in advance, connect its themes to your classroom curriculum, or prompt discussion and debate after the show, we can create a workshop that addresses your particular classroom needs. Reasonably priced workshops (discounted for Title I schools) are available for groups of up to 30 and can take place at an A.C.T. venue or in your school. 

For more information about workshops, contact Workshops & Events Manager Vince Amelio at 415.439.2450 or

Plays, artists, theaters, and schedules subject to change.

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