Having served as the American Conservatory Theater‘s artistic director for the past quarter-century, Carey Perloff announced her departure today. Perloff will leave after the conclusion of the 2017-18 seven-show season, which — apart from perennial holiday classic and moneymaker A Christmas Story — will include A.C.T.’s first staging of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, Qui Nguyen’s comedy Vietgone, and Suzan-Lori Parks adaptation of The Odyssey, Father Comes Home from the War (Parts 1, 2 & 3).
In a statement released this morning, Perloff noted that upon her arrival, A.C.T.’s Geary Theater was still in ruins after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. A.C.T. went onto rebuild and, in 2015, opened The Strand, a second, smaller space in an abandoned theater on Market Street. She also presided over large increases in the company’s endowment, the only freestanding M.F.A. program in the U.S., and the creation of the New Strands Festival (the second iteration of which takes place this May).
A noted fan of Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, and Samuel Beckett; a frequently collaborator with Bill Irwin and David Strathairn; and an accomplished playwright — The Colossus of Rhodes, Waiting for the Flood, Higher — as well as a well-regarded director, Perloff balanced a repertory of classics with the nurturing of contemporary artists. In an era when musicals dominate the theatrical scene, A.C.T. under her tenure has been unafraid to push political work like Geoffrey Burke’s Black Watch, about a Scottish regiment’s tour of duty in Iraq, or Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, which unspools in a soliloquy-filled iambic pentameter.
The theater’s board of directors has formed a search committee to determine a replacement artistic director. Helming it is Peter Pastreich, the theater’s executive director, who happens to be looking for his own replacement as well.
Meanwhile, A.C.T. celebrates another milestone with the impending release of Michael Paller’s A Five-Act Play: 50 Years of A.C.T., a book chronicling this unique American regional theater.