American Conservatory Theater has a long and distinguished history. Here you will find highlights dating back to 1965 when A.C.T was founded.
The first performance of Tartuffe at the Pittsburgh Playhouse inaugurates A.C.T. as a new resident theater company in Pittsburgh under the direction of William Ball.
The company, touring the country, seeks a new home. Chicago and San Francisco become the two heavyweight contenders.
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) televises Shaw's Misalliance, directed by Michael Howard. PBS tapes and broadcasts William Ball's production of Dylan Thomas's Under Milkwood.
An informal but influential group of Bay Area patrons and supporters, later named the California Theater Foundation (CTF), guarantees financial backing to present a six-month A.C.T. season in San Francisco. Among the CTF members who become longtime friends of A.C.T. are Melvin Swig, Mortimer Fleishhacker, Cyril Magnin, Alan Becker, and Joan Sadler. With their help, the company announces its new home and premiere season.
On January 21, Tartuffe, starring Rene Auberjonois, opens at the Geary Theater, A.C.T.'s San Francisco home.
The ambitious first season features a resident company of actors performing 16 productions, onstage at both the Geary and Marines Memorial theaters. The company also plays 28 performances in 13 other California cities, establishing itself as a statewide theatrical force. A.C.T. becomes one of San Francisco's first year-round resident theater companies.
A.C.T. begins its Student Matinee (SMAT) program. Since 1968, more than half a million students have seen A.C.T. productions; for many, it is their first theater experience.
The Devil's Disciple, by George Bernard Shaw; The Staircase, by Charles Dyer; and Little Murders, by Jules Feiffer, open on December 29, 30, and 31. Consecutive openings and rave reviews make for a busy and festive holiday season.
With A.C.T. Conservatory classes expanded to include community actors, the first Summer Training Congress is held under the direction of Robert Goldsby. Allen Fletcher is named conservatory director.
Glory! Hallelujah! by Anne Maria Barlow, an A.C.T. world premiere, is taped and broadcast by PBS. PBS presents A.C.T. Now!, a documentary about A.C.T.'s innovative actor training program.
The Advanced Training Program completes its first full season as a one-year program for talented young actors.
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory is founded under the direction of Ross and Lou Ann Graham.
Allen Fletcher translates and directs An Enemy of the People, inaugurating an A.C.T. Ibsen cycle that eventually encompasses seven major works over the next 14 years.
The first Christmas Treat is presented for San Francisco senior citizens. The popular annual variety show, organized by the Friends of A.C.T., attracts hundreds of low-income seniors, who enjoy refreshments with the cast and merry holiday entertainment performed by A.C.T. company members, staff, crew, and students.
Plays in Progress, A.C.T.'s new-play program, is founded by Edward Hastings and opens with The Tunes of Chicken Little, by Robert Gordon. The program provides up-and-coming playwrights with an intimate forum for their work.
The Royal Shakespeare Company performs Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Geary as part of the A.C.T. subscription season. A Doll's House travels to Hawaii to begin eight years of Hawaiian tours.
Cyrano de Bergerac, with Peter Donat, Marsha Mason, Marc Singer, and Paul Shenar, is taped and presented nationwide by PBS. An extraordinary grant from the Ford Foundation enables A.C.T. to purchase the Geary Theater.
A.C.T. presents the world premiere of General Gorgeous, by Michael McClure and directed by Edward Hastings.
The U.S. State Department's Cultural Exchange Program sends 44 members of the company to the Soviet Union for four exciting weeks. Laird Williamson's production of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker and Eugene O'Neill's Desire under the Elms, directed by Allen Fletcher, are presented at the Moscow Art Theatre, as well as in Leningrad and in Riga, Latvia. Simultaneous translation through headphones is provided for the audience.
The Taming of the Shrew, directed by William Ball, with Elizabethan romantic fireworks provided by Marc Singer and Fredi Olster, is taped and presented by PBS.
A.C.T. presents the world premieres of Tennessee Williams's This Is (An Entertainment) and of Dennis Powers's and Laird Williamson's adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, featuring William Paterson as Ebenezer Scrooge. A Christmas Carol becomes a holiday tradition in San Francisco and is presented by theaters nationwide.
A.C.T. mounts a month-long tour of Hawaii and Japan of All the Way Home, by Tad Mosel, and Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! In Tokyo, company members, many with families in tow, are hosted by actors from the revered Kabuki and Kyogen theaters.
A.C.T. wins a Tony Award for theatrical achievement and excellence in repertory performance and actor training.
Edward Hastings takes his acclaimed production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child to Belgrade's Yugoslav Drama Theatre, where Yugoslav actors present the play in Serbo-Croatian.
A.C.T.'s A Christmas Carol is broadcast by the Arts and Entertainment Network.
Conservatory teachers Edward Hastings and John Pasqualetti trade places with two Shanghai theater professionals and travel to China to work with acting students at Shanghai's Drama Institute. The Theater Bridge Project, funded by the U.S. State Department, is responsible for this decade-long, ongoing cultural exchange between the two cities.
A.C.T. presents the world premiere of New Yorker cartoonist William Hamilton's Happy Landings.
A.C.T. presents the world premiere of The Holdup, by Marsha Norman and directed by Ed Hastings. The Dolly, by Robert Locke, becomes the first play developed in Plays in Progress to move to the Geary Theater.
Lawrence Hecht is named conservatory director.
The Western Association of States and Colleges grants A.C.T. full academic accreditation and the authority to award the master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree in acting.
Founder William Ball leaves A.C.T. Edward Hastings becomes the new artistic director. Joy Carlin and Dennis Powers are named associate artistic directors, and John Sullivan is named managing director.
The company joins forces with the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) to present Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, by August Wilson. The California premiere is a critical and popular success in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The Theater Bridge Project sends Joy Carlin to direct You Can't Take It with You, in Chinese, with the Shanghai Youth Drama Troupe.
Sabin Epstein and Susan Stauter are named codirectors of the conservatory, and Craig Slaight becomes the new director of the Young Conservatory.
The Theater Bridge Project brings the great Chinese actor Sun Dao Lin to play Kublai Khan in A.C.T.'s stateside production of Marco Millions as part of the nation's Eugene O'Neill centennial.
The company's Saint Joan and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum are invited to the Stratford Theatre Festival.
The Los Angeles Theatre Center and San Francisco's Lorraine Hansberry Theatre join forces with A.C.T. for another collaborative August Wilson production, Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
A collaboration between A.C.T. and international performance artist George Coates results in the critically acclaimed Right Mind. The San Francisco Chronicle review predicts: "The Geary Theater will never be the same!" Little did they know . . .
On October 17 at 5:04 p.m. the Loma Prieta earthquake rocks the Bay Area, bringing Right Mind to a close. No company members or friends are harmed, but the landmark Geary Theater suffers extensive damage. So begins A.C.T.'s nomadic all–San Francisco touring season.
A.C.T. presents the mainstage world premiere of Food and Shelter, developed at A.C.T. by playwright Jane Anderson during the 1989 Plays in Progress series, directed by Joy Carlin.
The Oakland Ensemble Theatre joins with A.C.T. to present a rousing San Francisco first: The Gospel at Colonus, Lee Breuer and Bob Telson's retelling of the Oedipus legend, as part of San Francisco's Multicultural Festival 2000.
The Young Conservatory hosts its first playwright-in-residence, Timothy Mason, inaugurating the renowned New Plays Program. Mason writes Ascension Day for the students.
Theatre Crafts International honors A.C.T.'s production department, headed by Production Director James Haire, for exceptional work in getting the theater back on its feet after the earthquake.
Edward Hastings is invested in the College of Fellows of the American Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
A.C.T. presents the world premiere of South African playwright Lisette Lecat Ross's Dark Sun, directed by Edward Hastings.
A.C.T. founder William Ball dies, at the age of 61, in his home in Los Angeles.
Carey Perloff, former artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York, is appointed artistic director of A.C.T. to succeed Edward Hastings. The third artistic director in A.C.T.'s history, Perloff is known for her groundbreaking productions of classical works and bold explorations of contemporary playwriting.
Susan Stauter is named director of the conservatory.
A.C.T.'s 25th-anniversary silver season gala, Starry, Starry Night, features renowned artists and A.C.T. alumni and former company members Rene Auberjonois, Annette Bening, Kathryn Crosby, George Deloy, Peter Donat, Gina Ferrall, Andrea Marcovicci, Ruth Kobart, Deborah May, Jeff McCarthy, Sydney Walker, Ann Weldon, and Gretchen Wyler, together with conservatory students, in an evening of music and theater directed by outgoing A.C.T. Artistic Director Edward Hastings.
The National Endowment for the Humanities grants A.C.T. $75,000 to initiate A.C.T. Perspectives, a free symposium series open to the public, enlisting scholars, writers, performers, and other artists to exchange ideas on topics inspired by A.C.T. productions.
David Mamet's incendiary drama Oleanna, directed by A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Richard Seyd, sparks heated debates following each performance, launching A.C.T.'s popular postperformance discussion series, Audience Exchanges.
On June 13, festivities hosted by A.C.T. company member Sydney Walker mark the beginning of reconstruction of the Geary Theater.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is recognized for her efforts on behalf of the company in securing federal support for the rebuilding of the theater.
Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize–winning Angels in America, directed by Mark Wing-Davey, opens at the Marines Memorial Theatre and is extended five times, becoming the longest-running and most successful production in A.C.T. history.
Melissa Smith, formerly director of the program in theater and dance at Princeton University, is appointed conservatory director. With her appointment at A.C.T., the company renews its commitment to excellence in actor training and to the relationship between training, performance, and audience.
The Kresge Foundation awards A.C.T. a $750,000 challenge grant for the Geary Theater Capital Campaign, one of the largest awards ever given by the foundation to a regional theater.
Olympia Dukakis stars in a critically acclaimed, smash-hit production of Euripides' Hecuba, in a new translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker, directed by Carey Perloff. The production features original music by David Lang, sung by the choral ensemble Kitka, and movement by choreographer Margaret Jenkins.
Studio A.C.T. (formerly the Academy), A.C.T.'s part-time theater-training program for adults, is founded under the direction of A.C.T. actor and educator Bruce Williams.
ACT One, A.C.T.'s affiliate organization for young professional Bay Area residents who share a love of theater, is founded.
A.C.T.'s season-opening production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, directed by Carey Perloff, is a critical and box office success, playing to sold-out houses.
Six years after the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake, renovations to the historic Geary Theater are complete. The theater is reopened on January 10, 1996, with the gala event A Galaxy on Geary. A.C.T. alumni Rene Auberjonois, Annette Bening, Peter Donat, Ruth Kobart, Andrea Marcovicci, and William Patersen join newcomers David Strathairn and Michael Tucker, among others, in the homecoming celebration.
On January 13, A.C.T. holds an open house at the Geary Theater. Five thousand members of the community show up for backstage tours of the theater.
The homecoming celebration concludes January 24 with the Geary Theater inaugural production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Carey Perloff, featuring David Strathairn as Prospero and the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet playing a commissioned score by David Lang.
In the summer, A.C.T. surpasses its $27.5 million capital campaign goal to fund the renovation of the Geary. This is the largest capital campaign ever undertaken by an American regional theater.
A.C.T.'s two-year Advanced Training Program is expanded to become a three-year program granting a master of fine arts degree in acting.
The $50,000 Jujamcyn Theaters Award is granted to A.C.T. in recognition of A.C.T.'s outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theater.
After a year-long search, Heather Kitchen is appointed managing director. Before her arrival at A.C.T., she served as general manager of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, as a strategic planning consultant for arts and educational institutions and taught for more than 20 years throughout Canada. With her appointment, A.C.T. returns to a partnership structure of leadership.
A.C.T. opens the 1997–98 season with the world premiere of the Broadway-bound Cole Porter musical High Society, which becomes the company's biggest financial success at the Geary Theater.
U.S. News & World Report ranks the A.C.T. Advanced Training Program sixth in the nation among drama/theater graduate programs.
A.C.T. presents a 50th-anniversary production of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, which is unanimously acclaimed and becomes a standing-room-only hit.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards A.C.T. a $300,000 grant for the research and development of new plays.
The 1997–98 subscription campaign brings in more than 19,400 subscribers, an increase of nearly 6,000 subscribers since the 1993–94 season and the company's largest subscription base since the 1981–82 season.
A.C.T. breaks a 20-year record with more than 20,000 subscribers for the 1998–99 season.
In recognition of the strides the company has made toward fiscal stability in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awards A.C.T. a $300,000 challenge grant. One third of the grant is for operating expenses; the remaining two-thirds are earmarked for elimination of accumulated debt. To meet the challenge, A.C.T. must produce an operating surplus of $300,000 by June 30, 2000.
A.C.T. breaks the all-time company record with more than 22,000 subscribers for the 1999–2000 season.
The Advanced Training Program graduates its first three-year M.F.A. class.
The Leading National Theatres Program donates $1.05 million to A.C.T. A.C.T. is one of just nine theaters in the United States to receive generous operating support and endowment capital from this new initiative, which is jointly funded by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation.
A.C.T. presents the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love. Directed by Carey Perloff and featuring James Cromwell as A. E. Housman, the production plays to sold-out houses nightly.
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory launches its first series of public performances at the Magic Theatre with the world premiere of Constance Congdon's The Automata Pieta.
The class of 2001 becomes the first ensemble of M.F.A. Program students to appear on the Geary stage in A Christmas Carol.
A.C.T. opens its 35th San Francisco season—and celebrates Carey Perloff's tenth anniversary as artistic director—with performances of Harold Pinter's most recent play, Celebration, on a double bill with his first play, The Room. With this production, A.C.T. revives one of its founding principles with the debut of a new core acting company: René Augesen, Marco Barricelli, Steven Anthony Jones, and Gregory Wallace. The four actors sign multiyear, 52-week contracts with A.C.T., allowing them to create three to four major roles at the Geary Theater per season, as well as to teach and direct in the conservatory throughout the year. It is expected that the core company will expand gradually in future years to include a larger pool of resident actors and other theatrical artists.
In an unprecedented community partnership, A.C.T. becomes theater-in-residence at Zeum, San Francisco's interactive center for youth and families in Yerba Buena Gardens. Serving as A.C.T.'s second performance space, A.C.T.@Zeum provides a stage for the conservatory's ever-increasing number of student and professional productions, either produced or presented by A.C.T., that complement the work at the Geary Theater. A.C.T.@Zeum is designed as a three-year partnership, with the possibility of an extension after the three-year term. A.C.T.@Zeum officially launches on October 22, 2001, with the first-ever staging of Marc Blitzstein's musical and working-class drama No for an Answer, directed by Carey Perloff, and featuring the M.F.A. class of 2002.
With its transatlantic production of Timothy Mason's Time on Fire, the Young Conservatory becomes the first American theater company of young people to play London's Royal National Theatre (RNT) as part of a new collaboration between the two companies. Several new works are co-commissioned to be performed in London and San Francisco over the next three years, led by casts of student actors from the two companies.
Steven Anthony Jones portrays the first African-American Scrooge in A.C.T.'s perennial holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol. The M.F.A. Program Class of 2002 appears in individual roles on the Geary stage in A Christmas Carol.
Internationally renowned opera singer Julia Migenes stars in the world premiere of the major new music theater piece The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, a Rashomon-like mystery based on the short story by Ambrose Bierce and directed by Carey Perloff. Commissioned by A.C.T. and developed in an unprecedented multiyear artistic collaboration with San Francisco's renowned Kronos Quartet, Difficulty features a libretto by Mac Wellman, music by David Lang, and orchestration by Kronos, and is presented at Theater Artaud in San Francisco. Upon its debut, Marc Swed of the Los Angeles Times hails Difficulty as "a major contribution to American musical theater" and an "astonishing work [that] must not be allowed to vanish into thin air."
A.C.T. presents the West Coast premiere of Carey Perloff's The Colossus of Rhodes at Zeum Theater.
In conjunction with its production of American Buffalo, A.C.T. establishes a "Write Like David Mamet" contest. Hundreds of scribes send in three-page scripts sending up Mamet's best-known works, and the ten winning scripts are presented to great ovation in Fred's Columbia Room following evening performances of American Buffalo.
The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2003 presents an adaptation of the 2,000-year-old epic poem The Ramayana, written and directed by Ruben Polendo. A visually daring and dramatically challenging work, The Ramayanabecomes the best-selling M.F.A. Program production in A.C.T.'s history.
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory creates a new international link with Theatre Royal Bath (TRB). The two-year program includes Bath commissioning a major American playwright (Jim Grimsley) and developing the play (War Daddy) in a two-week workshop at A.C.T. with 16 young people from TRB. Young actors from TRB also take A.C.T. classes and reside with A.C.T. families in the first student exchange project in A.C.T. history.
The A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program presents a tour of an M.F.A. Program presentation, a cabaret version of Of Thee I Sing, at the Napa Valley Opera House and the campus of software/gaming giant Electronic Arts.
A.C.T.'s production of Urinetown: The Musical—a West Coast premiere—sets a new opening-week single ticket sales record for the company, shattering the previous opening-week record set by A.C.T.'s production of The Threepenny Opera, directed by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff, in the 1999–2000 season.
A.C.T. presents the Bay Area premiere of Philip Kan Gotanda's Yohen at Zeum Theater. Yohen marks A.C.T.'s second professional production of new work at Zeum, following January's West Coast premiere of The Colossus of Rhodes. Having already served as a showcase for two seasons of productions by A.C.T. Conservatory students, Zeum now is also A.C.T.'s home for professional productions, readings, and workshop performances of new plays, presented under the auspices of A.C.T.'s First Look series.
A.C.T presents the world premiere of Paul Walsh's new translation of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 masterpiece A Doll's House, featuring A.C.T. core company actor René Augesen as Nora.
The Commonwealth Club of California and A.C.T. collaborate for the first time to present "The Commonwealth Club Presents Good Lit at the Geary," a series showcasing several of America's preeminent writers, actors, and artists in conversation with Commonwealth Club Literary Director Barbara Lane.
A.C.T. presents Steppenwolf Theater Company's production of San Francisco native William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life. Set in San Francisco during the Depression, the production plays to packed houses.
Eve Ensler presents the world premiere of her new solo show Eve Ensler's The Good Body.
The Robert Wilson, William S. Burroughs, and Tom Waits collaboration The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets—featuring Marianne Faithful and Matt McGrath and produced by BITE:2004, Cultural Industry, the Sydney Festival, and A.C.T.—opens A.C.T.'s 2004–05 season. A landmark piece of musical theater, the show extends twice, becomes the San Francisco Chronicle's choice for best theatrical production of 2004, and becomes the new single ticket sales recordholder at A.C.T.
A.C.T. celebrates its ninth consecutive year ending with an operational budget surplus.
A.C.T. core company actor Marco Barricelli departs the company, moving east to New York to pursue other artistic goals. Barricelli's final performance as a core acting company member in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten dazzles critics and audiences.
A.C.T. presents its biggest OUT with A.C.T. night ever during San Francisco's Gay Pride Week, following a performance of Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?
A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and A.C.T. Dramaturg Paul Walsh unveil a new adaptation of Charles Dickens's holiday classic A Christmas Carol.
A.C.T. Executive Director Heather Kitchen celebrates ten years with the company.
With $13 million in commitments already secured, A.C.T. introduces to the community The Next Generation Campaign, a plan to raise $25 million to establish a permanent endowment for the theater.
Following the receipt of a $5 million grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support new works, which brings total commitments to The Next Generation Campaign to $23.5 million, A.C.T. announces plans to increase the endowment goal to $30 million.
John Doyle's Tony Award–winning signature production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street comes to A.C.T. on the brink of a national tour, after hugely successful runs in London's West End and on Broadway.
Carey Perloff directs John Ford's Tis Pity She's a Whore, in an edgy production that includes live music composed and performed by underground "avant-baroque" cellist Bonfire Madigan Shive.
Tom Stoppard returns to his American home with the West Coast premiere of Rock 'n' Roll, directed by Carey Perloff and coproduced by A.C.T. and Huntington Theatre Company.
Carey Perloff travels to Ontario to direct a new, A.C.T.–commissioned translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker of Jean Racine's Phèdre, in a first-time coproduction with Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
A.C.T. presents John Guare's Rich and Famous, in its first major revival since the play's 1976 New York debut, featuring significant rewrites made to the original script for the A.C.T. production directed by John Rando.
Continuing its commitment to the development of large-scale fusion work for the American theater, A.C.T. presents the world premiere of War Music, a visionary work adapted and directed by Lillian Groag based on Christopher Logue's award-winning translation of the Iliad.
A.C.T. restructures the Master of Fine Arts Program with the launch of the "M.F.A. 8," implementing a smaller-size class, a full-time faculty, full scholarships for all eight students in their third year, and increased opportunities for students to appear on the A.C.T. mainstage.
Honorary master of fine arts degrees are conferred upon Grammy Award–winning musician Tracy Chapman and master playwright John Guare.
The James Irvine Foundation Arts Innovation Fund (AIF) awards A.C.T. a $1 million grant to develop a new program of study designed to bring the work of A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program students to the community.
After 14 seasons with A.C.T., Executive Director Heather M. Kitchen steps down from her position.
Tony Award–nominated actor Manoel Felciano becomes a member of A.C.T.'s core acting company.
A.C.T. presents the U.S. premiere of Kneehigh Theatre Company's groundbreaking multimedia production of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter.
A.C.T. successfully completes The Next Generation Campaign, with $30,939,236 raised by the campaign's close at midnight on December 31.
In honor of the 100th birthday of A.C.T.'s historic home, more than 3,500 attendees fill the theater for "A Landmark Celebration," a community open house featuring stagecraft demonstrations, performances by A.C.T. core acting company members, and historical displays and presentations.
A.C.T. presents Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, in a new, A.C.T.–commissioned translation by A.C.T. Associate Artist Domenique Lozano, directed by John Doyle and featuring original music by San Francisco composer Nathaniel Stookey.
A.C.T. presents the highly anticipated world premiere of The Tosca Project, a groundbreaking fusion of dance and theater created by Carey Perloff and choreographer Val Caniparoli, featuring dancers from San Francisco Ballet and a cast of renowned actors.
The A.C.T. Board of Trustees appoints six-time Tony Award–winner Ellen Richard (former executive director of Second Stage Theatre and managing director of Roundabout Theatre Company) A.C.T.'s new executive director.
In an unprecedented transbay collaboration, A.C.T. partners with Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company to present the West Coast premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney's acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays, marking the first time that three theaters have produced all three plays for an entire region.
With the incredibly well-received West Coast premiere of Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park, which would go on to win the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, A.C.T. expands its InterACT series with Experts Talk Back lectures. Building on the successes of this, A.C.T. hosts "Pursuing Pinter," an event celebrating the life and work of Harold Pinter, featuring Austin E. Quigley, Michael Krasny, and David Strathairn; this coincides with Perloff's production of Pinter's The Homecoming. A.C.T. also added PlayTime—interactive theater workshops for families hosted in the theater on Saturday afternoons—to its InterACT series.
Under the new title Tosca Cafe, The Tosca Project receives its Canadian premiere at Theatre Calgary. A.C.T. continues to explore the cross-disciplinary projects and multimedia on The Geary's stage and to foster relationships with Canadian theaters when it welcomes The Virtual Stage and Electric Company Theatre's cinematic interpretation of Sartre's existential classic, No Exit. A.C.T. expands its film projection capabilities and partners with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) to present screenings of short silent films before select Friday night performances of the 2011–12 season opener, Once in a Lifetime.
To close out the 2010–11 season, A.C.T. opens of the world premiere musical Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, with a book by Tony Award–winning writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the glam-rock band Scissor Sisters, and directed by Tony Award winner Jason Moore (Avenue Q and Shrek: The Musical). Breaking from the popular trend, Tales is produced without the help of outside commercial support. A.C.T. celebrates opening night and its Season Gala with a reception and dinner in a tented Union Square. Maupin, Laura Linney (who played Mary Ann Singleton in the television miniseries adaptation of Tales of the City on PBS), Jake Shears, and Mayor Edwin Lee are in attendance; Maupin receives a framed copy of his first Tales of the City column in the San Francisco Chronicle from Chronicle editor Ward Bushee. The event raises $950,000 to support the production and A.C.T.'s educational programs.
After 40 Years with A.C.T., Producing Director James Haire retires.
The Young Conservatory presents its first commissioned musical for young actors: Homefront, with book by YC Director Craig Slaight and music and lyrics by Creighton Irons.
Building off of its acclaimed Student Matinee (SMAT) series, ArtReach program, and Will on Wheels Shakespeare school tours, A.C.T. deepens its commitment to arts education by appointing Elizabeth Brodersen as its first director of education.
A.C.T.'s second artistic director, Edward Hastings, dies at the age of 80, in his home in Santa Fe.
A.C.T. converts the front of its costume shop, across the street from UN Plaza in Central Market, into a flexible 49-seat venue. The Costume Shop theater officially opens with fanfare on December 7, 2011. "A.C.T.'s new Costume Shop performance space is a wonderful example of the spirit that has taken hold on Central Market to transform and infuse the area with art, performance, and gathering spaces," said Mayor Ed Lee at the event. "I commend A.C.T. for creatively repurposing this space and creating local jobs, and I look forward to supporting their continued efforts to develop a larger presence on Central Market."
The year begins with happy homecomings. Lorenzo Pisoni, who grew up in San Francisco's famous Pickle Family Circus, explores his childhood in his one-man show, Humor Abuse; its success encourages A.C.T. to bring the show back in August for an extra three-week run. David Strathairn, who reopened The Geary in Perloff's 1996 Tempest, returns to A.C.T. in Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched. A.C.T. Young Conservatory alumnus Darren Criss, who acquired fame for his role on the hit television show Glee, headlines A.C.T.'s Season Gala in an original musical revue that also features a special performance by Bill Irwin, who is in town to perform in Samuel Beckett's masterpiece Endgame at The Geary.
In February, A.C.T. acquires The Strand Theater, a historic cinema at 1127 Market Street that had been shuttered since 2006, with the intention of renovating it as a 300-seat second stage. Later in the year, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approves A.C.T.'s proposal for renovation, celebrating The Strand as a "benchmark" and "watershed" project for the revitalization of Central Market.
Perloff's new play Higher premieres at The Theater of the Children's Creativity Museum, after winning the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Theatre Visions Fund Award, which grants $25,000 for the production.
The Education Department celebrates the successful completion of its first-year partnership with Downtown Continuation High School (DHS)—a project-based public school in the San Francisco Unified School District dedicated to serving teenagers who have not experienced success in traditional comprehensive high schools—and their new Acting for Critical Thought project; 826 Valencia's Young Authors' Book Project publishes a collection of monologues and plays written by A.C.T./DHS students entitled Arrive, Breathe, and Be Still. In the summer, the Education Department also introduces Back to the Source, a new one-week training intensive for school teachers and teaching artists.
Coinciding with the 2012-13 season opener, Larry Kramer's landmark play The Normal Heart, and in association with the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, A.C.T. presents a reading of "8," a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8. The cast includes author Dustin Lance Black; actors Luke MacFarlane, Holland Taylor, and Patricia Wettig; CEO of SF AIDS Foundation Neil Giuliano; LGBT activist Cleve Jones; California Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone; and Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez. In the audience are the two plaintiff couples—Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo—who sought to overturn Prop 8.
Stephen Buescher's M.F.A. Program production of The House of Bernarda Alba is selected by the Moscow Art Theatre School to perform at Moscow Art Theatre School's 2012 Stanislavsky Festival in October; A.C.T. is the only theater school selected to represent the United States.
Funding from San Francisco Neighborhood Arts Collaborative and The Kenneth Rainin Foundation enables A.C.T. to provide no-cost rehearsal and performance space to local arts organizations at The Costume Shop theater.
A.C.T. kicks off its season with the West Coast premiere of the musical 1776 at the Geary Theater. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith announces the launch of the San Francisco Semester, which will bring undergraduate students across the nation to the Bay Area for a rigorous 15-week study away acting program. In October, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, other city officials, and A.C.T.’s leadership and community development partners break ground on the Strand Theater. That same month, Artistic Director Carey Perloff brings Academy Award nominee David Strathairn to the stage in the solo drama Underneath the Lintel. At the Conservatory Awards Luncheon, A.C.T. honors its graduates Harry Hamlin, Heidi Armbruster, and Peter Freidrich. The Young Conservatory presents Play It Forward, a one-night-only homecoming concert featuring prominent alumni Joey Contreras, Rozzi Crane, Darren Criss, Julia Mattison, Alysha Umphress, and George Watsky.
A.C.T. presents David Ives’s Venus in Fur as well as the premiere California screening of the documentary Peter Brook: The Tightrope. In May, the 2014 Season Gala celebrates the three founding fathers of A.C.T.: Mortimer Fleishhacker, Cyril Magnin, and Melvin Swig. A.C.T. also announces a new partnership with Mills College in Oakland, developing a new major and minor program in theater arts. Artistic Director Carey Perloff appoints A.C.T.’s first ever director of new work Beatrice Basso. The 2013–14 season culminates with the U.S. premiere of James Fenton’s adaptation of The Orphan of Zhao, directed by Carey Perloff and featuring San Francisco native BD Wong.
A.C.T. receives a $600,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation to create Stage Coach, a mobile pop-up theater that travels throughout the city, transforming public spaces. The 2014–2015 season kicks off with the West Coast Premiere of the Signature Theatre production of Old Hats with Tony Award winners Bill Irwin and David Shiner. Carey Perloff directs Testament, Colm Toibin’s solo play.
The 2015–2016 season begins with Tom Stoppard’s epic romance Indian Ink, directed by Carey Perloff. A.C.T. presents the West Coast premiere of Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, a coproduction with the Guthrie Theater. In celebration, the theater partners with Barlett Hall, Dynamo Donut, and the Cartoon Art Museum. Former head writer of The Simpsons, Jon Vitti, participates in a post-show symposium with Carey Perloff. March sees a special concert presentation of the musical The Last Five Years, starring Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor. The 2015 Season Gala features a special performance by Tony Award winner Alan Cumming, with proceeds going to support A.C.T.’s actor training and education & community programs. Following Let There Be Love from English playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Geary, A Little Night Music, directed by Tony nominee Mark Lamos, becomes a hit and is extended through June. Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information becomes the inaugural production at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. On May 14, the Strand Theater celebrates its grand opening.
The 2015–2016 season starts with Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Between Riverside And Crazy, followed by Monstress, two world-premiere one-act plays by Philip Kan Gotanda and Sean San Jose.
A.C.T. rings in the New Year with Terry Teachout’s one-person show, Satchmo at the Waldorf. The MFA class of 2017 presents I’m Through with Love at the Geary, a musical revue exploring the meaning of being in love. The Strand quickly becomes a cultural and education hub, with the Young Conservatory presenting Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock and the MFA class of 2016 presenting Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal there. Carey Perloff announces A.C.T. is accepting applications for the community space-sharing initiative at the Strand, offering no-cost performance space to local artists and arts organizations.
The 2016–2017 season starts with Mike Barlett’s King Charles III, and Peter Pastreich from the San Francisco Symphony is named Interim Executive Director. A.C.T. presents the world-premiere adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel A Thousand Splendid Suns. A research study from the Women’s Leadership in Residential Theaters, commissioned by Carey Perloff and Ellen Richard, and conducted by Wellesley Centers for Women Senior Scholar Sumru Erkut and Research Associate Ineke Ceder, released its findings at the Strand. Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald announces the inaugural New Strands Residency, partnering with New York’s Ma-Yi Theater Company.
A.C.T. presents Pulitzer winner Annie Baker’s John. On the eve of the presidential inauguration, A.C.T. participates in the nationwide Ghostlight Project, committing to protecting the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone. As part of the New Strands Residency, playwrights Lauren Yee, Don Nguyen, and Dustin Chinn have the opportunity to create and develop new works at the Strand Theater. Peter Brook’s Battlefield appears at the Geary, followed by A Night with Janis Joplin, which is extended twice.
Craig Slaight, Young Conservatory director of 29 years, announces his retirement. New Strands enters its second year, with A.C.T. granting more than $200,000 for the development of new works. Carey Perloff announces her departure from A.C.T. at the end of the 2017–2018 season, and the search for the new artistic director and executive director begins. Jill MacLean is named the Young Conservatory director, and Louisa Balch becomes the new general manager.
Tony, Obie, and Drama Desk Award winner Pam MacKinnon is named the new artistic director. A.C.T. presents the inaugural Every 28 Hours Black Arts Festival, centering on resilience and joy in the Black struggle against police brutality and oppression. A Thousand Splendid Suns returns for a two-week engagement, and A.C.T. receives a $750,000 grant from the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families over the next five years to support ACTsmart Intensive Residences, which provides arts education to youth from marginalized communities. The theater hosts a gala for outgoing Artistic Director Carey Perloff and raises over $1.2 million for actor training and education & community programs. In June, Jennifer Bielstein is announced as the new executive director.
A.C.T. adds new staff in its artistic and conservatory teams. Joy Meads is appointed director of dramaturgy and new works, Peter J. Kuo as associate conservatory director, and Danyon Davis as head of movement. The 2018–2019 season opens with Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer prize–winning drama Sweat.
San Francisco native BD Wong and Lauren Yee return to the city for The Great Leap. A.C.T. partners with the Magic Theatre in presenting plays from MFA alum Mfoniso Udofia’s Family Cycle: A.C.T. presents Her Portmanteau while the Magic presents In Old Age. Pam MacKinnon makes her A.C.T. directorial debut with Edward Albee’s Seascape.
The publication Words on Plays celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Young Conservatory presents Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, and local group The Kilbanes performs their pop-rock opera Weightless at the Strand. A.C.T. receives a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to produce Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. In August, Juan Manzo is named director of education & community programs. A.C.T. partners with Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, a small-batch ice cream brand, and starts featuring Slocombe ice cream in both the Geary and Strand Theaters. The 2019–2020 season opens with Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls. In October, A.C.T. hosts an open call for The Rocky Horror Show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, seeking “people of all stripes to be their most brilliant, strange, honest, fabulous, and terrifying selves.” Kate Attwell’s Testmatch has its world premiere at the Strand.
MacArthur “Genius” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Gloria plays at the Strand, and Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey brings Emmy Award winner Tony Hale to the Geary. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic ramps up worldwide. Pam MacKinnon directs Toni Stone at the Geary as a coproduction with Arena Stage. The day after opening, the City of San Francisco issues a shelter-in-place order. For the health and safety of audience, artists, and staff, A.C.T. shutters its theaters and cancels remaining performances of Gloria and Toni Stone. Due to the pandemic, the rest of the 2019–2020 season is also canceled. To connect with its audience and subscribers, A.C.T. launches InterACT at Home, an initiative that includes interactive content and a book club.
In the fall, A.C.T. presents five plays performed over Zoom by MFA students: Madhuri Shekar’s In Love and Warcraft, Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, James Ijames’s Moon Man Walk, Martyna Majok’s Ironbound, and Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding. In November, A Christmas Carol returns as a radio play, directed by Peter J. Kuo. Melissa Smith departs from the conservatory, and Kuo becomes director of the conservatory. Head of Movement Danyon Davis becomes director of the MFA program.
Pam MacKinnon chats with theater luminaries Annette Bening and Ken Ruta for our Virtually Speaking series. A.C.T. continues its virtual programming with A.C.T. Out Loud, a series of Zoom readings of classic works that include Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind, George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, and Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. Coproducing with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, A.C.T. brings Heather Christian’s Animal Wisdom to the screen as a film. A.C.T. commissions San Francisco native and playwright Christopher Chen to write an interactive play over Zoom. Communion, starring Stacy Ross, begins performances in May. For Pride week, A.C.T. brings back an archived recording of Tales of the City for streaming, which is followed by a taped conversation between Mx Justin Vivian Bond and MacKinnon, about Bond's career and the evolution of casting practices in the industry. A.C.T. announces an in-person season beginning in early 2022.