New Strands Residency

Made possible by Hewlett Foundation’s New Works Endowment and by the Edgerton Foundation Fund for New American Theatre

Launched in 2017, the New Strands Residency gives emerging and established American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater.

Each year, A.C.T. will partner with a nationally recognized new-work incubator to select three playwrights, who will spend a week in San Francisco. Over the course of their residency, the playwrights will participate in a reading of their work, develop and workshop their plays-in-progress with directors and a shared ensemble of actors, and sit on various panel discussions. The New Strands Residency culminates with a free public presentation of their work during A.C.T.’s annual New Strands Festival.

Our 2018 partner theater company is SPACE on Ryder Farm, a one-of-a-kind artist residency located on the grounds of a 223-year-old working organic farm in Brewster, NY.

Our 2017 partner was Drama Desk and OBIE Award–winning not-for-profit Ma-Yi Theater Company, one of the country’s leading incubators of new work—generated by their in-house Writers Lab—shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.



The Great Leap

by Lauren Yee
Directed by Lisa Peterson

When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind the newly popular sport. This play is inspired by events in the playwright’s father’s life.

Snowflakes, or
Rare White People

by Dustin Chinn
Directed by Mina Morita

In a dystopian future, the dwindling white American population is protected by the federal government. Two of the last White Americans are brought to Nueva York’s Museum of Natural History are “freed” by a disgruntled activist. Is America ready for their return?

The Man from Saigon

by Don Nguyen
Directed by Hal Brooks

As Saigon nears collapse in 1975, a South Vietnamese intelligence agent forces a complicated friendship with Richard Armitage, a charismatic US officer who would later become George W. Bush’s Deputy Secretary of State. This political thriller is based on experiences of the playwright’s father.

A.C.T. New Strands Commissions

Port City

by Chris Chen
Music by Byron Au Yong

In a musical fable framed as a spectacular product launch, Bay Area playwright Christopher Chen (Caught) and composer Byron Au Yong (Stuck Elevator) investigate the psychological and philosophical questions of how technology shapes our lives.

Excerpts from Port City presented during the 2017 New Strands Festival led the audience through different locations in The Strand Theater.


co-created by Carey Perloff, Basil Twist, Darron L. West, Sheldon Smith, and Stephen Buescher
in collaboration with performers Pascal Molat, Gregory Wallace, Bruce Turk, and Peter Anderson

Exploring ideas of lost fathers and wishful sons, shooting-gallery machismo and carnival family trips, Fatherville is a non-verbal, devised work that debuted at the 2016 New Strands Festival and returned in 2017 due to popular demand.


by Lucy Thurber
and Casey Lee Hurt 

When you come from small-town America, it takes courage to leave and strength to stay. Obie Award–winning playwright Lucy Thurber (The Hill Town Plays) and composer Casey Lee Hurt (The Unfortunates) craft an epic musical about family and first love, the history of the land, and the power of the church.


by Federico García Lorca
in a new translation by Melinda Lopez
Original music by Mark Bennett
Directed by Melia Bensussen

Federico García Lorca’s achingly poignant play about the collision between the extremity of one woman’s longing and a community’s pressure to conform will find  fresh expression in a new translation/adaptation with music, by playwright Melinda Lopez, working in collaboration with director Melia Bensussen.

Don Carlos

by Friedrich Schiller
in a new translation by Domenique Lozano
Friedrich Schiller’s (Mary Stuart) passionate drama about power, love, and politics, pits the young prince Don Carlos against his aging, tyrannical father King Philip II of Spain. Both love the King’s young bride, Queen Elizabeth.  But more is at stake, as the Marquis of Posa urges Carlos to oppose Philip and fight for the future of freedom and democracy in Europe.

The Happiness of Fish

by Dave Malloy
Directed by Rachel Chavkin

The author/composer of the Broadway hit Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 explores atheism and theism through the lenses of movement, beauty, and Taoism in this music-theater piece.

M.F.A. Program Commissions

Malicious Animal Magnetism

by Dipika Guha and Jeremy Cohen
Directed by Jeremy Cohen
Co-commissioned by Z Space

In 1973, amid men in suits, men weeping, and one psychiatrist in a Nixon mask, ten-year-old Peter witnesses a landmark moment in gay rights and reaches out to grab the hand of Oakland boy Deshawn. An epic story about love, queerness, and what we can't help looking at.

Young Conservatory Commissions

Black Butterflies

by Darren Canady
Directed by Lauren Spencer

When you’re a girl of color trapped between school, court, and the incarceration system, orange ain’t the new black. An exploration of how young women try to escape the “school-to-prison pipeline,” despite the community-wide complicity of parents, educators, and lawyers.

Recent Commissions and Residencies


Produced at A.C.T. 2017

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Ursula Rani Sarma
based on the novel
     by Khaled Hosseini
Directed by Carey Perloff

The Life to Come

by Timothy Mason
Directed by Domenique Lozano


by Lachlan Philpott
Directed by Becca Wolfe

Produced at A.C.T. in 2016

Crack. Rumble. Fly:
Bayview Stories Project

(formerly The Hill)

by Aleshea Harris
Directed by Tyrone Davis

Top of  the Pyramid

by Nikkole Salter
Directed by Tyrone Davis   

Produced at A.C.T. in 2015


by Philip Kan Gotanda
and Sean San Jose
Directed by Carey Perloff

Other Recent Commissions & Residencies

How to Catch Creation

by Christina Anderson
Directed by Daniella Topol

The Aspern Papers

by Colm Tóibín
Directed by Maria Aitken

Joanna Haigood / Zaccho Dance Theatre

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