AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER HONORS LEGACY OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS PROGRAM
THREE-DAY CELEBRATION INCLUDES PERFORMANCE OF
MEGHAN BROWN’S THE PLIANT GIRLS FEATURING THE MFA CLASS OF 2022; LUNCHEON WITH ALUMNI, CURRENT AND FORMER STAFF AND FACULTY, AND MFA AND A.C.T. LEADERSHIP; MFA CLASS OF 2022 GRADUATION; AND MORE!
HONORARY MASTER OF FINE ARTS DEGREES TO BE CONFERRED UPON A.C.T. COSTUME DIRECTOR JESSIE AMOROSO, A.C.T.’S DIRECTOR OF THE MFA PROGRAM AND HEAD OF MOVEMENT DANYON DAVIS, AND ACTOR, DIRECTOR, AND ACTIVIST MARGO HALL
*** MAY 21–23, 2022 ***
SAN FRANCISCO (April 21, 2022)—In celebration of the legacy of American Conservatory Theater’s Master of Fine Arts Program, Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein and Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon today announced the schedule of events taking place during a three-day celebration beginning Saturday, May 21 through Monday, May 23, 2022.
“The rich history of the MFA program professional actor training has brought much to A.C.T. and the field,” said MacKinnon. “We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world to celebrate this legacy along with the class of 2022.”
“The legacy and spirit of the MFA Program will forever be a part of the tapestry of A.C.T.,” adds Bielstein. “We are grateful to the many students, faculty members, staff, MFA Board members, donors, trustee hosts, and supporters throughout A.C.T. who have made this program possible.”
On Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m., the Master of Fine Arts Class of 2022 will present a performance of Meghan Brown’sThePliant Girls, a modern adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Suppliants, at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater, followed by a postshow reception for the MFA community. Fifty sisters are going to be married off to fifty brothers, and so they devise a plan to end the plague of patriarchy that binds them. But will their actions end the cycle of violence or simply perpetuate it? Can an individual defy the group while fighting for a common greater good? Don’t miss this humorous and haunting exploration of love, sexual politics, and the power of redemption. Additional performances of ThePliant Girls will take place on May 19 at 7 p.m.; May 20 at 7 p.m.; May 25 at 7p.m.; May 26 at 7 p.m.; and May 27 at 7 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit act-sf.org/pliantgirls.
On Sunday, May 22at 12 p.m., A.C.T. Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein and Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon will host a luncheon for alumni, current and former staff and faculty, and MFA and A.C.T. leadership. At 2:30 p.m., guests are invited to a workshop with A.C.T. Head of Voice Christine Adaire. Starting at 4:30 p.m., A.C.T. Associate Artistic Director Andy Donald will lead a panel on Bay Area theater. The evening culminates with a cocktail reception starting at 7:30 p.m. at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater.
On Monday, May 23 at 11 a.m., guests are invited to the MFA Class of 2022 Graduation taking place at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Special guest speakers include voice actor and theater director Jack Fletcher and actor, playwright, and A.C.T. MFA alum Mfoniso Udofia. Three awards—The Carol Channing “Trouper” Award, The Alumni Innovator Award, and the Citizen Artist Award—will be presented to exemplary students from the class of 2022. Honorary Master of Fine Arts degrees will be conferred upon A.C.T. Costume Director Jessie Amoroso; A.C.T.’s Director of the MFA Program and Head of Movement Danyon Davis; and award–winning actor, director, and activist Margo Hall. A post-graduation reception will take place at 1 p.m.
“The A.C.T. MFA Class of 2022 has shown great determination, commitment, and adaptability at a time of great challenges in society and amidst significant changes in the field of theater,” said A.C.T.’s Director of the MFA Program and Head of Movement Danyon Davis. “They have earned their degrees learning and maintaining the level of artistic excellence that has long characterized the essence of theater making and theater makers at A.C.T. As conscientious artists, they have consistently been engaged in advocating for social issues and in making work that celebrates queer and BIPOC cultures, as well as transgender lives, and individuals who are neurodiverse. They are uniquely gifted collaborators who have gained experience working on A.C.T.’s stages with professional actors, directors, playwrights, and designers. They are also remarkable storytellers who are comfortable working in front of the camera and as content producers themselves.”
Adds Davis: “Honorary degree recipients Jessie Amoroso and myself have been proud to serve the training of the Class of 2022 in production and in the classroom throughout their three years at A.C.T. Fellow honorary degree recipient Margo Hall has long been an inspiration for artists across the Bay Area as an actor, writer, director, and teacher and she traces a history of personal connection with the class, as well. All three honorees are thrilled to share the special day of commencement with this remarkable group of young artists as they take their first steps into their emerging careers.”
A.C.T.’s MFA program began life as the Advanced Training Program (ATP) in 1968, as a part of A.C.T. founder William Ball’s vision that training and production would be “indigenous, the one to the other… All participants of the Conservatory—as a ballet company—will always be in training.” The founding goal was to “awaken in the theater artist his maximum versatility and expressiveness.” Ever a rigorous program, A.C.T. attracted younger actors from across the country and around the world, producing some of the industry’s greats: Annette Bening, Omar Metwally, Anika Noni Rose, Anna Deavere Smith, and Denzel Washington among them. A.C.T. received probationary accreditation to offer an MFA degree in 1978. In recent years, under the leadership of the late conservatory director Melissa Yandell Smith, the MFA Program was consistently ranked in the top Master of Fine Arts programs in the nation by the Hollywood Reporter and U.S. News & World Report. The program was considered highly competitive, auditioning over 100 students for just 12 spaces per year. Over the decades, 1,513 students have graduated through the ATP/MFA program, and have gone on to become Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and Obie Award–winning actors, directors, arts educators, artistic directors, writers, and hyphenate citizen artists.
A.C.T. gratefully recognizes the MFA Board for their leadership and support of the program: Norman Abramson; Carlotta Dathe; Danyon Davis; Frannie Fleishhacker; Dianne Hoge; Christopher Hollenbeck; Luba Kipnis; Linda Kurtz; Jennifer Lindsay; Toni Ratner Miller; Mary Ann Munro; Joseph Ratner; Toni Rembe; Abby Sadin Schnair; and Anne Shonk. Additional support provided by The Bernard Osher Foundation and Jewels of Charity, Inc.
For more information on A.C.T.’s Master of Fine Arts Program celebration, visit act-sf.org/MFA-Celebration.