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Kaila Mullady, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Anthony Veneziale, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Aneesa Folds, Kurt Crowley (on keyboard back), and Arthur Lewis (on keyboard front) in "Freestyle Love Supreme" at the Booth Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus.)

ACT Announces Live and Virtual Programming Through 2022

The San Francisco company will produce a radio version of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ a film of a Heather Christian musical, plus five in-person productions.

SAN FRANCISCO: American Conservatory Theater has announced programming through 2022, featuring a mix of virtual and in-person offerings. The company plans to present five live shows when it is safe to reopen. If scheduled in-person productions cannot take place, patrons will be eligible for ticket refunds.

“As we imagine a better future, we are reconceiving how to pull forward our best selves, challenge our practices, and place artists at the center,” said artistic director Pam MacKinnon in a statement. “This historic moment of disruption brings us to this bold and exciting season, spanning the virtual and the in-person, the celebratory and the reflective.”

As part of its InterACT at Home initiative, the season will start with an encore virtual performance of Madhuri Shekar’s In Love and Warcraft (live streamed Sept. 4–12, on demand Sept.18–25), featuring students in ACT’s Master of Fine Arts program. This a cosplay-loving romantic comedy about intimacy and love in the digital age is directed by Peter J. Kuo.

The company will also present three contemporary plays performed by students in ACT’s Master of Fine Arts program. Directors for this series include Shannon R. Davis, Dawn Monique Williams, and Jessica Holt. Christine Adaire, the ACT Conservatory Head of Voice, will also direct a bilingual adaptation of a canonical Spanish play. The dates for these productions are to be determined.

Also part of the InterACT at Home programming is Virtually Speaking, a new series of in-depth conversations with theatre industry professionals, hosted by MacKinnon. For the first episode, MacKinnon will speak with four-time Academy Award nominee and ACT MFA alum Annette Bening (live streamed Nov. 20, on demand open-ended).

Following will be the annual production of A Christmas Carol: On Air (Dec. 4-26), this year presented as a radio play. Directed and adapted for the radio by Kuo, the show will feature the original Dickens text and adaptation by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff. ACT will partner with Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream to create a custom ice cream flavor for viewers to enjoy at home.

In 2021, ACT will launch ACT Out Loud, a new series of play readings. Slated readings include Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind (live streamed Jan. 29, 2021, o demand Feb. 12–26, 2021), directed by Awoye Timpo; George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man (live streamed Feb. 19, 2021, on demand March 5–19, 2021), directed by Colman Domingo; and Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker (live streamed March 26, 2021, on demand April 9–23, 2021), directed by Dawn Monique Williams.

Next up ACT will present Animal Wisdom, an original film of the musical séance by Heather Christian & the Arbornauts at the Bushwick Starr. The filmed version is being created by ACT in association with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and will be released in early spring.

The five in-person productions will include Christopher Chen’s The Headlands (May 27-June 20, 2021); Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Bay Area-based Anthony Veneziale’s hip-hop improv sensation, Freestyle Love Supreme (July 29-Aug. 22, 2021); the world premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Soul Train (Sept, 24-Oct. 31, 2021); A Christmas Carol (Nov. 30-Dec. 26, 2021); Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (Feb. 10-March 6, 2022); and the previously announced The Lehman Trilogy (April 20-May 22, 2022).

 “The arts have been particularly challenged by the impact of COVID-19,” said managing director Jennifer Bielstein in a statement. “We are shifting the way our season looks in response, and are also gearing up for when we can all safely gather together again in person. We are committed to our core value of inclusion and embracing a diversity of voices and perspectives in all that we do.”

Founded in 1965, American Conservatory Theater is dedicated to producing new plays, training actors in its conservatory program, and engaging with its community in San Francisco.

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