Sneak Peek at the new STRAND on Market

I got a tour of the ACT’s new Strand Theater on Market Street  with architects from Skidmore Owings and Merrill and historical architects Page and Turnbull. 

 ACT's newly restored STRAND is a bright spot on Market Street.  

ACT's newly restored STRAND is a bright spot on Market Street.  

The Strand was built in 1917 as one of many movie houses along that stretch of Market Street.  It also briefly hosted live vaudeville shows.  It’s had many owners and many names.  In the 1950s the theater began showing triple bills which changed daily.  In the 1970s, it focused on classic movies, including midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  By the 1990s,  it switched to porn movies and became a hangout for hookers and drug addicts.   It closed in 2003.

 The original neon sign was restored and hangs over the lobby cafe. 

The original neon sign was restored and hangs over the lobby cafe. 

In 2012, the American Conservatory Theater bought the Strand and began a $20 million renovation, taking the 800 seat historic movie house to an innovative space for live performances.  The Strand now offers a 283 seat theater and “black box” performance/event space, plus a lobby/café with a 27 ft wide LED screen offering opportunities for visual art.

  LED Screen in the new Strand on Market. 

LED Screen in the new Strand on Market. 

Every space in the Strand is designed to be flexible.  The main theater can be transformed into a cabaret with table seating.  The lobby can be used for performance and video art.  The black box upstairs can host anything from interactive performances to a bar mitzvah. 

  Restored windows overlook San Francisco's Civic Center from The Rueff, a "black box" that can be used as a theater, gallery or event space. 

Restored windows overlook San Francisco's Civic Center from The Rueff, a "black box" that can be used as a theater, gallery or event space. 

Inside the theater has a clean, contemporary vibe, but the architects also carefully restored a few historic details.  The pink-neon marquee sign hangs in the lobby.   In the restroom waiting area downstairs, a 50s era clock  hangs over a row of restored Art Deco seats.  Even some graffiti from the theater's derelict days has been kept and framed.  

 Vintage seats were restored for restroom waiting area.

Vintage seats were restored for restroom waiting area.

ACT’s main stage is the Geary Theater off Union Square.  The Strand provides a showcase ACT’s MFA and Young Conservatory productions, as well as offering Educational and Community programs.  For more information on ACT and its programs, or to support them, go to http://www.act-sf.org/.

See new Strand at https://www.pinterest.com/cityexplorerSF/strand-theater-renovation/