Her Naked Skin Takes a Personal Look at the Fight for Women's Right to Vote
Cal Shakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone directs the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2010. This ambitious new play was the first play by a living female playwright to be produced at London's acclaimed Olivier Theatre.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 23, 2009—The American Conservatory Theater Master of Fine Arts Program presents Rebecca Lenkiewicz's new play Her Naked Skin, directed by California Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone. Set in London in 1913, this electric new play centers on two courageous women fighting to gain the right to vote—one a renegade married aristocrat, the other a young Cockney seamstress. After meeting behind prison walls, they embark on a dangerous journey of self-discovery—but just how far will they go for political and personal change? The A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2010 takes on this ambitious new work, which received four stars from the Evening Standard, the Guardian (London), the Independent, and Time Out (London) for its premiere at London's National Theatre. Incredibly, Her Naked Skin was the first play written by a living female playwright to be produced on the National's main stage, the celebrated Olivier Theatre. Her Naked Skin runs October 15–31, 2009, at Zeum Theater (Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth and Howard streets, San Francisco). Opening night is Saturday, October 17, 2009, at 8 p.m., but contractually reviews are not allowed for this production. Tickets are $15–$20 and are available at www.act-sf.org or by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at 415.749.2228.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the suffragette movement slowly and painfully took hold in Britain, forcing the established order to grant voting rights to women. Playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz says of her reasons for revisiting this historical moment: "I wrote the play because I felt the suffragettes had been forgotten. They suffered so much. I admired their comradeship, strength, and old-fashioned pluck. Girls with guns, girls with bombs—but never wanting to hurt anyone."
The suffragettes were committed to the cause with their lives and usually had a total disregard for their individual status within the struggle. They threw iron balls labeled "Bomb" through windows, regularly set fire to government mailboxes, and took part in long hunger strikes. The uniqueness of Her Naked Skin comes from the personal and emotional approach it takes to this difficult and violent time in history. By focusing on the love between Lady Celia and Eve, two protagonists from very different walks of life, Lenkiewicz paints a moving and unexpected picture of the personal sacrifices that were made by women to win the right to vote.
A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith speaks to the beauty of Lenkiewicz's drama: "I love the storytelling in the play—really taut with short, dense, and pithy scenes. The grit and courage of these women are dramatized in a really compelling way. You get a truly compelling picture of this world and this love affair between these two women." Smith also speaks to the fit of the class of 2010 and the artistic team to this complex piece of theater: "This class is full of trailblazers who want to push the envelope, and I think they will really connect with the plight of the characters in this play. It is going to require a lot of muscle, a lot of technique, and real flexibility from the actors. It also requires a real actor's director, and we are very excited to have Jonathan Moscone take on this ambitious piece."
This epic play covers more than 30 locations and over 40 characters to present a slice of life from this historic time. The design team charged with taking on the challenge includes scenic designer Martin Flynn, costume designer Callie Floor, lighting designer Heather Basarab, and sound designer Ted Crimy. Her Naked Skin is made possible by a generous grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation. Additional support provided by The William G. Gilmore Foundation and donors to A.C.T.'s season gala, Illuminate the Night.
Ranked as one of the top programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program was the first theater training program in the country not affiliated with a college or university accredited to award the master of fine arts degree. The M.F.A. Program functions as the cornerstone of the A.C.T. Conservatory, which also includes the Summer Training Congress, Studio A.C.T., and the Young Conservatory. The third and final year of the program is designed to give students the opportunity to focus primarily on performing for a public audience. Past M.F.A. Program third-year productions have included works by Christopher Durang, Charles Busch, Marc Blitzstein, Georg Büchner, Caryl Churchill, George Farquhar, Henrik Ibsen, Robert O'Hara, Harold Pinter, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Maxim Gorky, and Bertolt Brecht.
A.C.T.'s stage at Zeum Theater, a venue distinct from the American Conservatory Theater on Geary Street, is dedicated to the development of new works, new translations, new forms, and new artists. A.C.T.@Zeum was launched in October 2001 with the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program's world premiere staging of Marc Blitzstein's No for an Answer, directed by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. This unprecedented community partnership gives A.C.T. an additional stage for readings, workshops, rehearsals, and other aspects of new play and production development.
A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program Performs at Zeum
HER NAKED SKIN
by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Directed by Jonathan Moscone
Set in London in 1913, this electric new play centers on two courageous women fighting to gain the right to vote—one a renegade married aristocrat, the other a young Cockney seamstress. After meeting behind prison walls, they embark on a dangerous journey of self-discovery—but just how far will they go for political and personal change? California Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone directs an ensemble cast of A.C.T.'s finest young actors in this gripping new work. Critically acclaimed in its debut last year, Her Naked Skin was, incredibly, the first play by a living female playwright to be produced at London's Olivier Theatre.
Cast: All actors are members of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2010.
Nick Childress (Dr. Vale, Augustine Birrell, MP 3), Jon Gentry (Keir Hardie, Guard, Vendor, Waiter), Caroline Hewitt (Eve Douglas), Sara Hogrefe (Miss Brint, Felicity, Nurse 1, Mary Nicholson, Wardress, Suffragette), Sophia Holman (Celia Cain), Omozé Idehenre (Florence Boorman), David Jacobs (George Curzon, Hunt, Potter, MP 1), Emily Kitchens (Mrs. Briggs, Mrs. Collins, Emily Wilding Davison), Mairin Lee (Waitress, Mrs. Schliefke, Young Suffragette), Lakisha May (Mrs. Major, Clara Franks, Nurse 2, Suffragette), Philip Mills (Charlie Power, John Seely, Speaker), Kyle Schaefer (William Clain, Flower Seller), Alex Ubokudom (Herbert Asquith, Cecil, Brown, Dr. Parker), Tobie Lee Windham III (Dr. Klein, Edward Grey, MP 2, Guard)
Creative Team: Martin Flynn (scenic designer), Callie Floor (costume designer), Heather Basarab (lighting designer), and Ted Crimy (sound designer)
Performance Dates: October 15–31, 2009
Performance Times: Wednesdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Matinee performances on Sundays at 2 p.m.
Additional matinee performances on Saturdays, October 24 and 31, at 2 p.m.
Location: Zeum Theater
Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth and Howard streets, San Francisco
Tickets: A.C.T. Ticket Services, 405 Geary Street at Mason
REBECCA LENKIEWICZ's (Playwright) first play, Soho: A Tale of Table Dancers, won a Fringe First at Edinburgh and opened the Arcola Theatre in London in 2001. The Night Season, which opened at London's National Theatre in 2004, received the Critics' Circle's Most Promising Playwright Award and was nominated for the Charles Wintour Evening Standard Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Other plays include Shoreditch Madonna, Blue Moon over Poplar (Soho Theatre), A Soldier's Tale (Old Vic), Invisible Mountains (National Theatre Education Department), Faeries (Royal Opera House), Justitia (Peacock Theatre), an adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People (Arcola Theatre), and Fighting for Words and Caravan of Desire (both BBC Radio 4).
JONATHAN MOSCONE (Director) is in his tenth season as artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater, where his work has earned him Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Dean Goodman Choice awards for Best Direction and Production. His productions of Man and Superman, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Ghosts (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Twelfth Night, and The Seagull were all named among the ten best productions by the San Francisco Chronicle and other area newspapers. His regional credits include The Huntington Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Intiman Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Goodspeed Musicals, Triangle Opera, Portland Stage, and Magic Theatre. He is the recipient of a Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation fellowship and currently serves on the board of LoveLife Foundation and the advisory board of Redwood High School, both in Oakland. He has also served as a grant review panelist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Theatre Communications Group, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches second-year acting in the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program.