A.C.T.'s actor training classes are returning in person, and we are delighted to see a familiar face in our facilities—long-time security ambassador, Oliver Sutton. Our third-year MFA actor, Hernán Angulo, caught up with Oliver to chat about what he’s been up to in the kitchen since 2020, and how he feels about being back with the students.
What have you been up to since the pandemic?
One of my favorite hobbies is cooking. I was a cook in the Navy, and I would provide culinary art classes to the other cooks. I have about a dozen cookbooks, and one is the signature menus from the 100 top hotels in the world. During the pandemic, I would cook for the compound I live in, share the food with people, just things that I enjoyed doing. One of my other hobbies is writing, so I did a little bit of that too. I edited one short story that was from my boyhood.
What are some new recipes that you tried making?
When I was in the Navy, I had an opportunity to visit Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and they had a dish there that was like a fruit dish, but the main ingredient was a mango-type fruit. I made that particular one. I also cooked a lot of seafood, because I was born in the state of Maryland. I did it every way you can do, any prawns, any crab, any fish. I actually experimented with ceviche dishes for the first time.
How does it feel to be back at A.C.T. and seeing students go back to in-person classes?
I tell all of my friends and family that I reside in Antioch, but I live at A.C.T. If you work in the arts and around artists you learn one thing: you live in the moment. There is a problem at the moment, it will be settled, and now, on with the show. For me, the energy when I work at [30 Grant], it’s just pulsating. To see and feel the group of young people that enter the programs, and then to see them over a period of time, they become so much more focused. By the time they do cap and gown, it's a laser! [30 Grant] is a living thing. It’s a living organism sustained by people who sincerely want to be here.
What are you most looking forward to when patrons come back to the theater?
Years ago, it became a routine for the patrons coming to the Geary and later the Strand to stop and say hello. The first thing they would say was, “Oliver, what's the play all about?” So I would give them the sidewalk critique. It got to the point where some of the patrons would go up to the previous artistic director and say, “When we stop and talk to Oliver about the play, he is always spot on!” I never put down the play, but I'm gonna give them my true impression. A part of the theater experience is not just what happens on the stage; it starts at the door. The conversation before and after, it’s all part of the experience. Having the audience come back again would just be another layer on the cake.
Why do you think theater is important now?
Theater is important now because it searches for the truth. I think it’s very important—now more than ever—to have words spoken on a stage, to convey the truth about who we are, where we’ve been, and what road we may take in the future.
To read our interview with Oliver from 2018, click here. To check out A.C.T.'s 2022 in-person season, visit act.sf-org
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