With a commitment to ensuring access to the wonders of live theater for our diverse communities, A.C.T. offers free tickets, workshops, study materials, residency programs, performance space, and scholarships to numerous partner schools and organizations serving the Bay Area.
ACTsmart School Residency Programs
In fall 2011, A.C.T. launched an intensive year-long pilot residency program with Downtown High School (DHS), a project-based-learning continuation school that serves youth from all over San Francisco who have not experienced success in conventional public schools. After six semesters of collaboration with DHS’s Acting for Critical Thought project, A.C.T. now partners with DHS’s new Performing and Publishing Our Perspectives (P2OP) project; students attend weekly acting classes in A.C.T.’s studios, are encouraged to attend all A.C.T. mainstage and conservatory productions, learn about backstage careers such as theater production and marketing, and write their own original monologues and essays on issues of social relevance, which they perform in a pop-up magazine format for their school community and families in A.C.T. venues each semester. The 826 Valencia literacy initiative provides tutors to help students with their writing and has published their dramatic work in an annual anthology.
Fall 2011 Exhibition: Complex Identity
Spring 2012 Exhibition: Arrive, Breathe, and Be Still
“This project has helped me realize my potential. I'm not just another statistic. I plan to go somewhere far in life, even if it's not acting.”
—Student, Acting for Critical Thought Project, Downtown High School
Fall 2012 Exhibition: This Is Not a Play
Spring 2013 Exhibition: Borderline Freedom
“From weekly classes held on their campus downtown, to free tickets to all their performances, including partnership theaters, to guest artists and M.F.A. students working in our classes to teach movement and technique, to reserving The Costume Shop theater for our final exhibition performances, A.C.T. has proven to be a partnership that is willing to connect and build foundations with our students beyond the walls of a classroom.”
Eunice Nuval, Founding Teacher, Acting for Critical Thought Project, Downtown High School
IDA B. WELLS HIGH SCHOOL: In 2012–13, A.C.T. also established an intensive residency at Ida B. Wells High School, another San Francisco continuation school. Working with Ida B. Wells teacher Janet Hobson, A.C.T. Teaching Artist Lauren Kivowitz and Folami Williams teach four classes a week, helping students write and perform original monologues inspired by classical work. Starting in the 2013–14 season, a generous three-year grant from San Francisco’s Department of Youth and Family Services (DCYF) made it possible for A.C.T. to feature a Theater Arts as a Tool for Change class as part of the school curriculum. Students work to explore the link between theater and the social issues most relevant to them and visit A.C.T. for mainstage and M.F.A. Program performances and workshops led by first-rate teaching artists from A.C.T.’s community of arts professionals.
AccessSFUSD: THE ARC: Each week A.C.T. teaching artist Lauren Kivowitz works at AccessSFUSD: The Arc, a unique special education program within the San Francisco Unified School District that serves students with disabilities ages 18-22 to learn functional skills within the community, discover their passions, unlock their potential and become involved members of the community. Through this partnership, AccessSFUSD: The Arc invites participants from other Access classrooms and adult agencies to be a part of these year long classes, allowing a greater portion of the disability community to benefit from this experience. Lauren spends the first half of the residency supporting the development of theatrical skills and building a solid improv foundation. The second half of the year is spent devising an original theatre piece that stems entirely from the interests and imaginations of the students, and culminates in a public performance.
HILLTOP SPECIAL SERVICES CENTER: In January 2015, A.C.T. will launch a new intensive residency at Hilltop Special Services Center, a continuation high school serving pregnant and parenting teens, in collaboration with WritersCorp teaching artist Annie Rovzar.
“For many students, their work with A.C.T. has been their first opportunity to constructively express themselves and tell their own stories in a public format. This has resulted in a boost to self-efficacy and self-confidence among students. A.C.T. creates rich experiences in the arts for people who do not have those opportunities.”
Jessica Lindquist Dorin, Teacher, Ida B. Wells High School
|This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at arts.ca.gov.
Through our ACTsmart Partnership Program (formerly known as ArtReach), A.C.T. offers tickets to performances (mainstage, second stage, Conservatory, and Will on Wheels), play-specific pre- and postshow ACTsmart workshops, and our nationally acclaimed Words on Plays in-depth study guides—all at no cost—to students and partner teachers at Bay Area schools (including all San Francisco public high schools) with large populations of socioeconomically disadvantaged students who otherwise would have little exposure to the arts.
With A.C.T.’s recent expansion into the Central Market neighborhood with the Costume Shop and Strand theaters, we have extended our ACTsmart partnerships to include community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve our neighborhood. Over the past two years, A.C.T. has partnered with the following Bay Area schools and CBOs:
AccessSFUSD: The Arc
Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA)
Balboa High School
Bessie Carmichael Filipino Education Center
Ralph Bunche High School
De Marillac Academy
Downtown High School
Galileo Academy of Science and Technology
Gateway High School
Hilltop Special Services Center
Abraham Lincoln High School
Lowell High School
Thurgood Marshall High School
Mission High School
Mt. Eden High School
Oakland School for the Arts
Oakland Technical Senior High School
John O'Connell High School
Archbishop Riordan High School
San Francisco Flex Academy
SIATech Treasure Island
Tenderloin Community School
Tennyson High School
Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School
George Washington High School
Ida B. Wells High School
Youth Treatment & Education Center
All Stars Project Inc.
Destiny Arts Center
Canon Kip Senior Center
Center City Collaborative
Chinese Education Center
Girls Leadership Institute
The Handful Players
Lauren’s House for Positive Change
La Voz Latina
Oasis for Girls
On the Town! Cultural Adventures for Girls
Tenderloin Boys & Girls Club
Tenderloin Economic Development Project
Tenderloin Housing Clinic
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation
Tenderloin Youth Leadership Program
Vietnamese Youth Development Center
Youth Treatment and Education Center
“Because of the generous and ongoing work being done in partnership with the Visual and Performing Arts Department of the San Francisco Unified School District, it is evident that so many students, teachers, and community members are the beneficiaries of having A.C.T. as our resident beacon theater. The outreach work being done to increase students' literacy, self esteem, and creativity are hallmarks of the new direction A.C.T. is taking to reach out to various underserved students and communities in ways that are authentic, deep, and reflective of the highest standard of excellence.”
Susan Stauter, Artistic Director, San Francisco Unified School District
BESSIE CARMICHAEL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A.C.T.’s after school program at Bessie Carmichael provides students with engaging theater classes that incorporate Filipino culture and Tagalog. Approximately 20 students in grades 2-3 enroll in the program, held in partnership with the Galing Bata Bilingual Program, an after-school program that promotes the development of a healthy bi-cultural identity by harmonizing students’ Filipino and American identities. Throughout the school year (a total of approximately 30 sessions), an A.C.T. teaching artist creates a welcoming and safe environment while instructing the students in theater language, text analysis and performance skills. The theater techniques taught build empathy and promote social-emotional learning.
JERRY ROSENSTEIN ARTS PROJECT (JRAP): A collaboration with six other arts partners (African American Shakespeare Company, the Embodiment Project, Blue Bear Music School, San Francisco Opera, SF Film, SFJazz and the San Francisco Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts department (VAPA), JRAP seeks to provide San Francisco middle school students and their teachers with access to performing arts instruction, including hands-on experiences to increase their creativity, resilience, and self-confidence. With an emphasis on arts integration, A.C.T. has been instrumental in developing best practices that can be shared across the partner organizations and strengthen partnerships with SFUSD teachers.
“The girls were incredibly shy at first, but as they developed trust in each other and in their own self-expression, I was thrilled to see them transform into confident, expressive stage performers. It was an honor to work with them!”
Josie Alvarez, A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program Student and Citizen Artist
BESSIE CARMICHAEL FILIPINO EDUCATION CENTER: As part of A.C.T.’s ongoing efforts to connect with the young people in our neighborhood, in April 2013 we showcased fourth- and fifth- grade students from Bessie Carmichael Elementary School on The Geary Theater stage for a special pre-SMAT performance. Inspired by themes from A.C.T.’s Stuck Elevator and the Terracotta Warriors exhibit on display at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Unified School District Visual and Performing Arts Department drama teacher Peter Sroka wrote and directed an original mini musical for the students, which they performed to a packed house.
Peter and the Bessie Carmichael students returned to the Geary stage in October 2013 with Voice of the People, an original mini musical inspired by our mainstage production of 1776, and in September 2014 with At A.C.T., inspired by Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s clown extravaganza Old Hats. Read more about A.C.T.’s partnership with Bessie Carmichael here, and watch a video of Voice of the People here and At A.C.T. here.
“The fifth graders will be performing at A.C.T. next Friday.’ When I heard that, I jumped with excitement!
. . . I have performed at A.C.T. before, so I know how scary it is. It’s also enjoyable to see inside the magnificent building, and it was fun rehearsing in the green room. I love A.C.T. It is truly an experience being there. If I ever go there again, I will always cherish those moments.”
Student, Bessie Carmichael Elementary School
Young Conservatory Scholarships
Each year A.C.T. grants numerous scholarships to local young students of need who wish to pursue their theatrical training at a more advanced level, many of whom first discover their passion for theater in our school and community residency programs.
Read about one student’s journey at A.C.T. here.
© 2019 American Conservatory Theater-a tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit organization. Number 94-6135772.