A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff Leaving Post After 25 Years

Artistic Director Carey Perloff.  (Photo: Kevin Berne.)

After almost 25 years, Carey Perloff announced Thursday that she is stepping down as Artistic Director for San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.).

Perloff says will be leaving at the end of the 2017–18 season, so she can work on a touring production and her own writing projects. Her legacy will be that of a "phenomenal" artistic director, as well as "a gifted playwright, author, producer, director, teacher, mentor, and consummate fundraiser," said Nancy Livingston, chair of A.C.T.'s Board of Trustees.

In 1992, Perloff came to San Francisco from New York, having worked at the off-Broadway Classic Stage Company for five years, following predecessors and A.C.T. co-founders Ed Hastings and William Ball.

“I came because ACT was built on a great idea and great ideas are hard to come by," Perloff said Thursday. "And Bill Ball’s idea was great repertoire in collaboration with great training, and that a professional theater should always be about the future."

Under Perloff’s artistic leadership, ACT rebuilt the Geary Theater after the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and helped raised $30 million to renovate and open the Strand Theater on Market Street.

Perloff outside of The Strand
Perloff outside of The Strand

Perloff also directed plays by Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter and others. Among the world premieres she helmed were David Mamet's adaptation of the The Voysey Inheritance and The Tosca Project, which Perloff co-created with choreographer Val Caniparoli.

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Her 25th season at A.C.T. begins next fall, and she says she stayed for so long partly because she found a great audience here.

"Its fearless. We can do the most risk-taking and challenging work in a very big house, because this is an audience that has appetite (for that)," Perloff said.

One reason she’s leaving, she says, is the success of the world premiere she directed of A Thousand Splendid Suns -- adapted from a book by San Jose's Khaled Hosseini, about women in Afghanistan -- that will be touring the country for the next few years.

But she's happy to be leaving with decades of wonderful memories.

"One favorite moment was standing at the back of the house on opening night of (Shakespeare's) The Tempest, the day the Geary reopened, and listening to the Kronos Quartet, the Bay Area’s greatest music ensemble," she said. "That was so thrilling to me. To see that play rise on that stage, after the ruins of the earthquake. That was really magical."

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