A.C.T. 2012-13 season: Humor Abuse, Elektra, A Christmas Carol, Dead Metaphor, A Streetcar Named Desire, Stuck Elevator, Black Watch, Arcadia

Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis returns to star in a vivid new translation of a Greek tragedy featuring original music by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer David Lang

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Carey Perloff announced the lineup for the company’s 46th subscription season, which includes an “eclectic and unforgettable” world premiere musical event, a masterwork from acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard, a world premiere comedy from one of Canada’s most prolific playwrights, a sultry Tennessee Williams drama, a revitalized classic starring Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, and the return of Lorenzo Pisoni’s sold-out stage memoir.

We’re told a world premiere event – to be announced at a later date – will fill the ninth show slot.

The 2012–13 season marks the 20th anniversary of Carey Perloff as A.C.T.’s artistic director. Says Perloff: “Twenty years marks a time to celebrate the past and, even more importantly, to make a bold commitment to the future: to new artists, new work, and new ways of imagining the theater. There are so many threads that I wanted to include in this anniversary season, and I chose the kind of work that has truly distinguished A.C.T. over the past twenty years: gorgeous writing, international work, new explorations of Greek tragedy, the work of Tom Stoppard, unusual music-theater and dance-theater collaborations, Bay Area–themed work, and a Canadian surprise. I’m delighted to share this adventurous and groundbreaking season with the San Francisco Bay Area.”

A.C.T.’s 2012–13 season kicks off with the return of Lorenzo Pisoni’s one-man show Humor Abuse (August 3–19). In this hilarious stage memoir filled with stupendous physical feats, Pisoni takes us under the big top with the incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of the Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle cofounder Larry Pisoni.

Carey Perloff will bring her sweeping production of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Elektra—featuring a specially-commissioned new translation by London playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker—to the Bay Area (November 1–25). A feast of poetic language featuring haunting original music by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer David Lang, Elektra features two of A.C.T.’s most beloved performers: core acting company member René Augesen in the title role and associate artist (and Academy Award winner) Olympia Dukakis as the fiercely partisan Chorus Leader.

Featuring a lively cast of dozens, delightful music, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area’s favorite holiday tradition returns with A.C.T.’s celebrated production of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (December 6–29). Now in its 36th year, this version of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff, stays true to the heart of Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language.

Next A.C.T will present the world premiere of George F. Walker’s Dead Metaphor—a dark comedy about the hypocrisies of postwar living (January 17–February 10). When Dean returns home from the war in Iraq, he discovers that his superior sniper skills don’t get him very far in the working world. He readjusts to non-bunker life by moving in with his parents and pregnant ex-wife, then takes the only job he can get—with a crusading politician on her own mission for “truth and justice.” The recipient of The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement—the highest honor presented for excellence in the performing arts in Canada—George F. Walker is one of Canada’s most acclaimed and widely produced playwrights.

Widely considered one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, Tennessee Williams’ sultry classic, A Streetcar Named Desire (February 28–March 24) takes the stage in a new production. When fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister Stella’s home in New Orleans, she quickly arouses the attention of Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, a primal and violently sensual force of nature. In this twisted web of turmoil and passion, the tension builds, as fantasy clashes with reality and Blanche’s sordid history catches up to her. Filled with some of the most iconic characters in the American theater, this passionate drama features A.C.T. core acting company member René Augesen as the troubled and mesmerizing Blanche DuBois.

In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. is thrilled to continue the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage with the world premiere of Stuck Elevator (April 4–28). A powerful and poignant hip-hop opera, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. Sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences for this illegal immigrant. Stuck in limbo, he launches into poignant and hilarious hallucinations about his past, present, and future.

As the “event of the season,” A.C.T. will present the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch (May 3-June 9). Written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany (who recently completed work on the acclaimed Broadway musical Once), Black Watch is based on interviews Burke conducted with soldiers of the legendary Scottish regiment who served in Iraq. Using video sequences, song, and dance, the production creates a visceral, complex and urgent piece of theatre told from the point of view of the soldiers. This groundbreaking and intensely physical production will be performed in the long dormant Drill Court at San Francisco’s historical Armory, a space used as a National Guard facility from 1914 until 1976. Located in the heart of the Mission district, the Armory will bolster the production’s dramatic military environment as it hurtles audiences from a pool room in Fife, Scotland, to a beleaguered armored vehicle in Iraq. Says Perloff: “The minute I saw Black Watch I knew A.C.T. had to be a part of bringing this monumental piece of majestic theater to San Francisco, but its demands of setting and size truly had us searching high and low for the right venue. The Armory, a building with a rich history of its own, was the perfect fit to set the stage and enhance the audiences’ experience and their understanding of what happened to the Black Watch soldiers.”

The 2012–13 season culminates with a new production of Tom Stoppard’s masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9). Perloff’s production of Arcadia in 1995 launched her deep relationship with playwright Tom Stoppard, and both she and Tom were anxious to reprise their work at the Geary. Hailed as one of the best plays of the 20th century, Arcadia unfolds in a beautiful English country house and moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories, as characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries, and unravel hidden truths about the nature of heat and desire.  This will mark the seventh time Perloff has collaborated with friend and colleague Stoppard during her 20-year tenure, including the American premieres of Indian Ink and The Invention of Love, and popular productions of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2009) and Travesties (2006). Says Stoppard: “I have felt part of A.C.T.’s extended family for decades, and for 20 years part of Carey’s family. It’s a great thing to have a play on her stage, a rare tribute to have a play revived by the company, and best of all to have Arcadia returning to A.C.T. – I don’t take it lightly, and I’m grateful.”

A.C.T. 2012–13 SEASON

Humor Abuse

Created by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt
Directed by Erica Schmidt

August 3–19, 2012

“Do it again, Lorenzo.” After receiving ecstatic ovations last winter, Lorenzo Pisoni’s irresistible stage memoir returns for an exclusive limited engagement. Pisoni takes us under the big top with the incredible true story of growing up as the youngest member of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus. Celebrating the complicated, no-holds-barred life of a performer, Pisoni shows off the tricks of the trade he learned from his father, Pickle cofounder Larry Pisoni. A hilarious and heartfelt event that will delight audiences of all ages, Humor Abusedazzles with unforgettable stories and mesmerizing routines.


Sophocles’ Elektra

Translated and adapted by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Original music by David Lang
Directed by Carey Perloff
Featuring Olympia Dukakis

November 1–25, 2012

Direct from its acclaimed sold-out premiere in Los Angeles, this sweeping production of Elektra brings an exquisite new translation of the timeless Greek tragedy to the Bay Area. After her father is murdered by her mother, Elektra is driven by grief, perpetually reliving the horrific event to refuel her burning need for revenge. A feast of poetic language featuring haunting original music by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer David Lang, Elektra features two of A.C.T.’s most beloved performers: core acting company member René Augesen in the title role and associate artist Olympia Dukakis as the Chorus Leader.

 

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh
Music by Karl Lundeberg
Choreography by Val Caniparoli
Directed by Domenique Lozano
Based on the original direction by Carey Perloff

December 6–29, 2012

Featuring a lively cast of dozens, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area’s favorite holiday tradition returns with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your “humbugs” at the door!


Dead Metaphor

by George F. Walker
Directed by Irene Lewis

January 17February 10, 2013

 

When Dean returns home from the war in Iraq, he discovers that his superior sniper skills don’t get him very far in the working world. He readjusts to non-bunker life by moving in with his parents and pregnant ex-wife, then takes the only job he can get—with a crusading politician on her own mission for “truth and justice.” A hilarious dark comedy about the hypocrisies and politics of postwar living, Dead Metaphor showcases the imaginative, audacious work of one of Canada’s most acclaimed playwrights.


A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Mark Rucker

February 28March 24, 2013

A.C.T. presents a sumptuous imagining of Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning work. When fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister Stella’s home in New Orleans, she quickly arouses the attention of Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, a primal and violently sensual force of nature. In this twisted web of turmoil and passion, the tension builds as fantasy clashes with reality and Blanche’s sordid history catches up to her. Filled with iconic characters, this passionate drama features A.C.T. core acting company member René Augesen as the troubled and mesmerizing Blanche DuBois.


Stuck Elevator

Music by Byron Au Yong
Libretto by Aaron Jafferis
Directed by Chay Yew

April 4–28, 2012

In the spirit of the beloved hit The Black Rider, A.C.T. continues the tradition of introducing eclectic, unforgettable musical projects to the stage. A powerful hip-hop opera, Stuck Elevator is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. Sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences for this illegal immigrant. Inventively staged by internationally acclaimed artist Chay Yew,Stuck Elevator unleashes an evocative collision of stories, sounds, instruments, and ideas.

 

Black Watch

Written by Gregory Burke
Directed by John Tiffany

May 3–June 9, 2013

After transfixing audiences across the globe and receiving unanimous critical acclaim worldwide, the National Theatre of Scotland’s revolutionary production of Black Watch makes its highly anticipated Bay Area premiere. Inspired by interviews with soldiers who served in Iraq with Scotland’s nearly 300-year-old Black Watch regiment, this hauntingly powerful depiction of war is so inventive and groundbreaking in scope that it demands a completely unique performance venue—and will take over the long-dormant Drill Court at San Francisco’s historic Mission Armory. Splicing together exquisitely deployed stagecraft, from choreographed marches and Scottish ballads to searing video news footage, Black Watch captures the layered state of being at war, from moment to gripping moment. A transformative theatrical event you don’t want to miss, Black Watch delivers a visceral, unforgettable experience.


Arcadia

by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Carey Perloff

May 16–June 9, 2013

In pursuit of a major literary sensation, two obsessive modern-day scholars piece together the volatile and passionate events that took place centuries earlier. Set in a sprawling English country house, Arcadia moves between the 19th century and the present through a series of love stories, as characters from both eras discover connections, unearth mysteries, and unravel hidden truths about the nature of heat and desire.

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.