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ACT to honor Annette Bening, A Noise Within founders

December 6, 2011 |  4:05 pm


San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre -- one of the top theater schools in the country -- is launching a new annual award in January called the Conservatory Awards, honoring outstanding alumni and donors. ACT said it will recognize actresses Annette Bening and Elizabeth Banks at the Jan. 24 inaugural ceremony. In addition, the school will honor the co-founders of L.A.'s A Noise Within -- Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott, who are also ACT alumni.

Bening will receive the Edward Hastings Career Achievement Award. The four-time Oscar nominee studied at ACT and acted on the mainstage from 1984 to 1986 as a member of the company's core acting group. Banks, who is receiving the Rising Star Award, has acted in movies including "Seabiscuit," "Invincible" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno."

A Noise Within was co-founded in 1992 by the Elliotts, who currently serve as artistic directors. The classical repertory company operated in Glendale for many years before recently moving to its new home in Pasadena. The Elliotts will receive ACT's Contributions to the Field Award.

The Elliotts co-founded A Noise Within with Art Manke, who is also an ACT alumnus. (Manke left the L.A. company in 2001.) When asked why Manke isn't being honored, a spokesman for ACT sent the following reply:

"This award is being given to the Elliotts for their 20 years of leadership in the field and their impact on American theater in general.  While their co-founding with Mr. Manke of A Noise Within is certainly a major reason for bestowing the award upon them, it is not the only consideration. We have been in touch with Mr. Manke, who is also an accomplished alumnus from A.C.T., and he has expressed his delight in the establishment of these awards, and in the choice of the Elliotts as the first recipients."

Also being honored are Frannie and the late Mort Fleishhacker, who will receive the Benefactor Award; and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, which has set up a multi-year scholarship fund for the organization's MFA program.


Theater review: 'Twelfth Night' at A Noise Within

A Noise Within sets open house for new Pasadena theater

A Noise Within announces its first season in its new theater in Pasadena

-- David Ng

Photo: A Noise Within founders and artistic directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times