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ACT Announces 2020-21 MFA Programming

The conservatory will present virtual productions this fall, plus four possible in-person shows for 2021.

SAN FRANCISCO: American Conservatory Theater (ACT) has announced its 2020-21 season lineup for the Master of Fine Arts program. As with ACT’s mainstage programming, patrons can purchase flex passes to view virtual shows. The slated 2021 productions, with dates to be announced, may be presented in-person or virtually, depending on the status of the pandemic.

“These are uncertain but exciting times for actors in training,” said ACT Conservatory director Melissa Smith in a statement. “Guided by our core values of artistry, imagination, and collaboration, we have adapted our curriculum to focus on what works best virtually. We are tremendously excited about the MFA season this year. Featuring a wide variety of genres—including some which we are inventing—these plays are timely, relevant, and speak to issues that resonate with our MFA actors and the larger Bay Area community.”

The season will commence with a remounted virtual presentation of Madhuri Shekar’s In Love and Warcraft (live streamed Sept. 4–11, on demand Sept.18–25), a cosplay-loving romantic comedy about intimacy and love in the digital age, directed by Peter J. Kuo.

Next up will be Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play (live streamed Sept 24-Oct. 3, on demand Oct. 9-16), about four white actors devising a play about the origins of Thanksgiving. Shannon R. Davis will direct.

Following will be Moon Man Walk (live streamed Sept. 25-Oct. 3, on demand Oct. 9-16) by James Ijames, about how the stories we learn as children shape us as adults. Dawn Monique Williams will direct.

The season will continue with Martyna Majok’s Ironbound (live streamed Sept. 26-Oct. 2, on demand Oct. 9-16), about a Polish immigrant living in New Jersey who is trying to find security and her place in America. Jessica Holt will direct.

Next will be Blood Wedding (live streamed Oct. 22-30, on demand Nov. 6-13), adapted by John Graham from Federico García Lorca. The play follows a bride who disappears before her wedding after a former lover pays her a visit. Christine Adaire will direct.

The fall programming will also include a musical revue, directed by Melissa Carey, and a virtual video variety show featuring music, clowning, comedic sketches, and more.

Following will be Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (dates TBA), about the first penal colony in Sydney, Australia. Kuo will direct.

The spring programming will also include Wendy MacLeod’s The House of Yes: A Suburban Jacobean Play (dates TBA), a black comedy about a family with secrets. Lavina Jadhwani will direct.

Next will be Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night (dates TBA), which spans nine decades of Russian history, conspiracies, and espionage. Jeffrey Lo will direct.

Following, the MFA program will present a hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It as part of the school’s annual Will On Wheels program. In collaboration with Ryan Nicole Austin, M. Graham Smith will direct.

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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