As San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) prepares to try to reopen for in-person performances this summer (or fall), the company has announced a series of play readings that will continue its streaming programs that began in the fall.
The series is called A.C.T. Out Loud, and each will be accessible on-demand for one week, with the first starting on March 29 — and each will have an opening night virtual watch party.
The three plays are Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind, directed by Awoye Timpo; George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, directed by 2020 SAG Award nominee, Obie Award winner, and Tony Award nominee Colman Domingo (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix), and Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, directed by Dawn Monique Williams (Moon Man Walk at A.C.T.).
"I am thrilled to get to hear these three great plays, and to see performers up close,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon in a release. "Readings always strip a play down to the essentials of language, story, and performance."
The readings bring together actors from the Bay and around the country with three notable directors, presenting three plays from the last two centuries — Trouble in Mind, by African American playwright Alice Childress is the newest of the three, having premiered first in 1955, and Shaw's Arms and the Man was first performed in 1894. Wilder's The Matchmaker, which premiered in 1954 but was a revision of an earlier play from 1938, features the character Dolly Levi, and was the basis for the musical Hello, Dolly!
Each reading was filmed after "four days of rollicking and rigorous process," MacKinnon says, capturing each play "alive with first impressions, big truth, and happy energy."
Actors involved include a mix of national and local talents including David Harbour (Stranger Things), Steven Anthony Jones (TV's Trauma and Nash Bridges), Catherine Castellanos, Patrice Johnson Chevannes, and ACT company members Anthony Fusco and Dakin Matthews.
Trouble in Mind opens on March 29 and will be viewable until April 4; Arms and the Man opens April 12 and will be viewable until April 18; and The Matchmaker opens April 26 and will be viewable through May 2.
Tickets ranging from $5 to $50 can be purchased here.
Following the A.C.T. Out Loud series, the theater hopes to be able to safely open for some in-person performances, with the first scheduled show of this unusual season being the contemporary noir play The Headlands, written Obie Award–winning playwright Christopher Chen and directed by MacKinnon. It is set to open at the Strand Theater — if health orders allow — on May 27 and run through June 20.
And come September, the theater expects to host the world premiere of a pre-Broadway tryout of the musical Soul Train directed by Dominique Morisseau, opening on September 24.
Top Image: Colman Domingo, who is directing Shaw's 'Arms and the Man.' Photo courtesy of ACT