Early in the pandemic, we invited several artists in our A.C.T. community to participate in our Make-a-Thing micro-commissions. Our only directive to these brilliant, vital artists was to channel the impulses that felt most urgent and necessary to them into a short creative project—in other words, to "make a thing." We believe in the generative capacity of artists of every one of theater's sub-disciplines and so have commissioned choreographers, directors, actors, and designers, as well as writers. Learn about our commissioned artists and experience their creations below.
FEELING GOOD (NINA SIMONE COVER): A REVIVAL
Rotimi Agbabiaka is an actor, writer, director, and teacher who uses humor, glamor, and drama to upset the status quo. Most recently, Agbabiaka originated the role of Salima in House of Joy (California Shakespeare Theater) and the role of Cellphone in If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons). Other acting credits include Tom Waits’s Black Rider (Shotgun Players), Bootycandy (Brava! for Women in the Arts, Theatre Bay Area award), originating the role of Boy in runboyrun (Magic Theatre), and several shows with the Tony Award–winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. As a playwright, Agbabiaka penned the solo shows Homeless, Type/Caste (Theatre Bay Area award), and Manifesto, as well as the musical, Seeing Red, co-written with Joan Holden and Ira Marlowe and produced by the SF Mime Troupe.
RETURN TO WHAT?
Carlos Aguirre (actor, emcee, vocal percussionist, educator) has been performing and educating in the Bay Area for over 20 years. He has shared the stage with The Roots, Erykah Badu, The Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Jam Master Jay, and L.L. Cool J among others. He is currently producing his original rap and beatbox adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Aguirre shares his experience by teaching at various schools and at-risk environments throughout the Bay Area.
WORLD IS THE CLOWN
CLASSIX was created by theatre director Awoye Timpo to expand the classical canon through an exploration of dramatic works by Black writers. We define these classic works as plays by authors of African descent from around the world that speak profoundly to the times in which they were written and resonate deeply with our own. CLASSIX engages artists, historians, students, professors, producers and audiences to launch these plays into the public imagination and spark productions worldwide. CLASSIX engages the larger narrative of these plays through conversations with historians and theatre makers on its podcast series, social media platforms, and in live events; educational outreach; new writings and analysis; and an archive of information on its website.
Jaclyn Backhaus is a playwright, screenwriter, and educator. Her plays include Wives (Playwrights Horizons), India Pale Ale (2018 Horton Foote Prize, MTC), Thank You Letter (Theatre for One), Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons), and You on the Moors Now (Theater Reconstruction Ensemble). Backhaus was the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb and is a resident playwright at Lincoln Center and New Dramatists. She is a co-creative director of Fresh Ground Pepper. She resides in Ridgewood, Queens with her husband, director Andrew Scoville, and their son Ernie.
Summer Brown is an artist currently based in Los Angeles. An MFA graduate of American Conservatory Theater, she performed on the Geary Stage in Top Girls and A Christmas Carol, along with various festivals in the Bay Area. She was recently a recurring guest star on season four of ABC's The Good Doctor. Whether through acting, writing, or producing, Summer is eager to add her voice to the arts and entertainment industry. She aspires to create eclectic worlds for black actors to portray the vast breadth of our experience.
Shannon R. Davis
WHEN WE CONNECT
Shannon R. Davis is a Bay Area–based Director/Performer. She is in the CalShakes Artist Circle, a company member of In The Margin Theatre, and is a founding member of both Bay Area Accountability Workgroup & BANTA. She holds an MFA in Directing & Acting from UW-Madison. Shannon has worked with the following: American Conservatory Theater, New Native Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theatre, American Indian Community House, CalShakes, Theatre of Yugen, Berkeley Rep, MoxieArts NY, Brava Theater, Ashland New Play Festival, Forward Theatre, Tantrum Theatre, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Theatre Bay Area, Marin Shakespeare, San Francisco Playhouse, Renaissance Theaterworks, Playwrights Foundation, Vortex Rep, others.
WORLD IS THE CLOWN
Zachariah Ezer is an M.F.A. Playwriting Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a James A. Michener Fellow for the class of 2023, a 2021 Echo Theater Company National Young Playwright-In-Residence, a 2020 Town Stages Sokoloff Creative Arts Fellow, a 2018 BUFU EYEDREAM Resident, a 2015 Wesleyan University Olin Fellow, and a member of The Tank’s LIT Council. He is also a dramaturg (for The National Black Theatre, Merde, foolsFURY, and The Workshop Theater, where he is currently Dramaturg-In-Residence), an essayist (published by the University of Texas’ E3W, Gizmodo/io9, HuffPost, Bubbleblabber, and elsewhere), and a performer (in alternative rock band Harper’s Landing).
A GREAT LAST MINUTE DEAL
Anthony Fusco, a member of Actors Equity since 1983, is an actor based in San Francisco. He was a member of A.C.T.’s Core Company, and has been an A.C.T. Associate Artist. He’s appeared in nearly 50 productions here, and has taught and directed in the Conservatory’s MFA program. Other Bay Area credits include 14 productions for CalShakes, and shows at Berkeley Rep, San Francisco Playhouse, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and Marin Theatre Company. On Broadway, Fusco was in The Real Thing and The Real Inspector Hound, as well as appearing off-Broadway and at major regional theaters across the country. Over 100 productions, all told. He is pleased indeed to be (even virtually!) a part of the re-opening of the Geary Theater.
View the transcript of Anthony's Make-a-Thing micro-commission, A Great Last Minute Deal.
Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene
THE LIGHT OF THE NEW MOON
Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene (Costume Design) is a South African costume and production designer. Recent credits: Familiar (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Legacy Land (Kansas City Rep); On the Grounds of Belonging (Long Wharf Theatre); America V2.1: The Sad Demise of the American Negro (Barrington Stage Company); Master Harold and the Boys (The Round House Theatre); Sunday, The Homecoming Queen (The Atlantic Theatre); The Winter’s Tale, Cullad Wattah (The Public Theatre). Film: BRAVE music video (Spike Lee, dir.), Forever Tree (Alrick Brown, dir.). Education: MFA in Design for Stage and Film from NYU.
UNTITLED TOILET EXPERIENCE
Sam Pinkleton is a Tony Award-nominated director, choreographer, and creator of sparkly experiences based in Los Angeles. He almost directed and choreographed The Rocky Horror Show at ACT's Geary Theater in Spring 2020, but we all know how that ended. His other work in the Bay Area includes Soft Power (Curran Theater) and Amélie (Berkeley Rep) and his work on Broadway includes Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Significant Other, Heisenberg, Amélie, and Machinal. He's also made a dance party adaptation of the Go-Go's musical Head Over Heels (Pasadena Playhouse, created with Jenny Koons), the youth-led civic spectacular Runaways (New York City Center / Public Theater), Untitled DanceShowPartyThing (Virgin Voyages, created with Ani Taj), Kansas City Choir Boy with Courtney Love (Prototype Festival and Art Basel Miami), and new opera productions for The Dutch National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Opéra National de Montpellier. He's a collaborating artist with The Civilians, The Dance Cartel, and Pig Iron Theater Company, and a lecturer at Princeton University. Upcoming work includes Bernstein's Trouble In Tahiti (Palau de les Arts, Valencia) and Joshua Oppenheimer's musical feature The End, starring Tilda Swinton (Neon / Final Cut For Real). www.sampinkleton.com
Keiko Shimosato Carreiro
UNTITLED TOILET EXPERIENCE
Keiko Shimosato Carreiro is a Collective and Board Member with the Tony Award–winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Since 1987, they have been an actor, designer, co-writer and director with the Company. Carreiro has performed at theaters throughout the Bay Area, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, A.C.T., Magic Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Word for Word, and Center Rep. In early 2020, Keiko Co-Founded “Kunoichi Productions” (Female Ninja Productions), a company whose mission is to create bold, innovative multidisciplinary theater with Japanese aesthetics. Currently, Keiko is a Visiting Faculty member at Hollins University, teaching Theater for Social Change.
Emma Van Lare
Emma Van Lare is a first generation Ghanaian-American multihyphenate storyteller. She made her professional stage debut as the lead in the world premiere of House of Joy at California Shakespeare Theater. She can be seen in the historical short film, The Example, now streaming on Amazon, and on YouTube in the fantasy mystery drama web series, Fabletown. As a person of two cultures, Emma strives to create projects that expand the Black imagination and unite the Black Diaspora. She holds a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film from The University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Acting from The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
Phil Wong is a multi-hyphenate artist from Oakland, CA aka xučyun (unceded Chochenyo Ohlone land). He is a graduate of Oberlin College, a member of the first Bay Area #BARS Cohort, and received physical theatre training at the Accademia dell' Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Phil is also co-founder of Bay Area Theatre Cypher, a collective of artists who live at the crossfader of theatre and hip hop. Theatre Cypher was created out of deep disappointment with traditional American Theatre, and has developed into a space for multi-hypenate artists to dismantle the traditional power structures found within the theatre making process using the Cypher a conduit for inclusive storytelling and community building. Phil has been active in his theatre community since he was very young and is constantly working to make his art more conscious, empathetic, relevant, and revolutionary.