Benjamin Bratt, Anika Noni Rose to be Honored at A.C.T. Conservatory Awards Luncheon
American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has announced the recipients of the 2012–13 Conservatory Awards, which annually recognizes and honors A.C.T.'s award-winning actor training program's outstanding alumni and pays tribute to donors and foundations who have provided significant support to the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
Program Scholarship Fund. Now in its second year, the Conservatory Awards luncheon raises necessary annual support for M.F.A. Program scholarships while celebrating A.C.T.'s accomplishments with award winners and current M.F.A. Program students. The winners of the five awards to be presented are Emmy Award–nominated actor and A.C.T. M.F.A. Program honorary graduate Benjamin Bratt, who receives The Edward Hastings Career Achievement Award; Tony Award–winning actor and A.C.T. M.F.A. Program graduate Anika Noni Rose, who receives The Rising Star Award; Producing Artistic Director of Round House Theatre, former Producing Director of Marin Theatre Company, and A.C.T. M.F.A. Program graduate Ryan Rilette, who receives the Contribution to the Field Award; celebrated San Francisco philanthropists and longtime A.C.T. supporters Deedee and Burt McMurtry, who receive The Benefactor Award; and The Bernard Osher Foundation, an organization supporting higher education and the arts, which receives The Champion Award. The star-studded event will take place Monday, October 29, 2012, at 11:30 a.m. in the Gold Room at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel. Tickets and table sponsorships are now available. For information about the event, please visit http://www.act-sf.org/conservatoryawards or contact Helen Rigby, Associate Director of Development, Conservatory, at 415.439.2469 email@example.com.
"It's tremendously exciting and deeply satisfying to honor the achievements of our distinguished alumni and the generosity of benefactors who make the dream of training at A.C.T. come true," said A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith. "Benjamin, Anika, and Ryan are leading artists in America whose unique, remarkable careers are a source of inspiration for those of us who've trained them and for the next generation of actors to come. Burt and Deedee McMurtry are testaments to the impact individual philanthropists can have through sustained involvement with an institution; their contributions to the Conservatory over many years have changed the face of our programs. And the support of the Bernard Osher Foundation enables A.C.T. to present M.F.A. Program productions to the public, providing a critical component of actor training while engaging actors in the life of the Bay Area. To honor these graduates and funders is to recognize a process that has come full circle and to celebrate the synergy that makes A.C.T. such a dynamic institution in which to work and train!"
"I remember [former A.C.T. Artistic Director] Ed Hastings as an artist, a gentleman, and a true champion of diversity in American theater," says Bratt. "As a former student of his at A.C.T., receiving this award named for his legacy is a tremendous honor."
"Receiving the Rising Star Award is a great honor to me," says Rose. "It's coming from people who know how far I've traveled and understand the difficulties of just being a working actor in general. They understand that the scale of 'making it' changes day by day, year by year, and person by person. I think it's so important to give people awards and give people recognition before it's posthumous. But I never expect to be the person to get the award. It's very moving to me. There's something lovely about the title 'Rising Star' because it doesn't imply completion. When somebody comes up to me and says 'You made it!' that implies that something is over. I'm still working. I'm still actually reaching and moving toward my dream. There are a lot of things I've been so blessed to be able to do, but I'm not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I love the fact that this award says, 'We see your movement. We see where you've been, and we see where you're going.'"
Says Rilette: "I am deeply honored by this award and extremely thankful for all of the support Carey, Melissa, and all of the A.C.T. family have shown for my career."
Burt and Deedee McMurtry not only support the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program through an endowed scholarship fund, but have also been generous producers of A.C.T.'s mainstage productions. They understand the role theater plays in the quality of life in the Bay Area and are pleased to support it. Deedee has played a pivotal role not only as a member of the A.C.T. Emeritus Advisory Board, but also as co-chair of the Producers Circle.
The Bernard Osher Foundation provides scholarship funding and production support to the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program as well as for an array of performing arts organizations, museums, and selected educational programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in California, chairs the Foundation's Board of Directors. "A.C.T. was one of The Bernard Osher Foundation's first grantees in 1978," said Osher Foundation President Mary Bitterman. "Its extraordinary list of accomplishments since then is remarkable, and the development of a top-tier, nationally recognized Master of Fine Arts Program is chief among them. A.C.T. has a proven track record of training some of the most creative and productive theatre artists in the country. We are delighted to support A.C.T.'s conservatory program and applaud its continued success."
Ranked as one of the top programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program is the only theater training program in the country accredited to award the master of fine arts degree, yet is not affiliated with a college or university. The essence of A.C.T.'s actor training lies in the interplay between the professional company and the Conservatory. Student actors at A.C.T. perform frequently within the program in Studio Productions, as well as in cabaret and Shakespeare productions that tour to the larger Bay Area. Third-year M.F.A. Program student actors perform in A.C.T.'s mainstage production of A Christmas Carol and also audition for roles in A.C.T. mainstage productions. In recent years, students have played leading roles in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, Once in a Lifetime, Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, as well as performing in new and commissioned works. Many graduates of the program go on to distinguished careers in theater and film and include such celebrated actors as Elizabeth Banks, Annette Bening, Christopher Fitzgerald, Danny Glover, Omar Metwally, Dileep Rao, Anna Deavere Smith, and Denzel Washington. A.C.T. provides a wealth of talented actors for productions across the San Francisco Bay Area: graduates of the M.F.A. Program have taken on leading roles in productions at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Stage, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz, among others. The M.F.A. Program functions as the cornerstone of the A.C.T. Conservatory, which also includes the Summer Training Congress, Studio A.C.T., and the Young Conservatory, and trains more than 3,000 students annually. For more information, visit act-sf.org/conservatory.