Perloff's memoir of her career in the theater offers a provocative, passionate and deeply personal view of theater's role today.
As San Francisco's legendary American Conservatory Theater prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Artistic Director Carey Perloff pens a lively and revealing memoir of her twenty-plus years at the helm, and delivers a provocative and impassioned manifesto for the role of live theater in today's technology-infused world.
Perloff's personal and professional journey—her life as a woman in a male-dominated profession, as a wife and mother, a playwright, director, producer, arts advocate, and citizen in a city erupting with enormous change—is a compelling, entertaining story for anyone interested in how theater gets made. She offers a behind-the-scenes perspective, including her intimate working experiences with well-known actors, directors, and writers including Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Robert Wilson, David Strathairn, and Olympia Dukakis.
Whether reminiscing about her turbulent first years as a young woman taking over an insolvent theater in crisis and transforming it into a thriving, world-class performance space, or ruminating on the potential for its future, Perloff takes on critical questions about arts education, cultural literacy, gender disparity, leadership and power.
Carey Perloff is an award-winning playwright, theater director, and the Artistic Director of the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco since 1992.
Praise for Carey Perloff's Beautiful Chaos:
"In my mind, it is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about theatre art, values it's profound impact on the quality of human life, and may be curious about how it is made. The book is an inspiration on many levels. First, because it is truly a memoir and necessarily personal. To gain access to the mind and heart of a genius, to survey with her the ordeals and revelations of a historic tenure as the leader of one of America's greatest theatre companies, to hear her authentic voice articulating the 'state of the art' and speculating about its challenging future is to be a privileged companion on an adventure of breathtaking scope. Second, it provides deep insights into those mentors and colleagues who shaped Ms. Perloff's aesthetic (as they shaped the art and literature of the last century): Martin Esslin, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Robert Wilson. Perloff studied with Esslin; at A.C.T. she worked closely with Pinter and Stoppard, and she collaborated with Robert Wilson. Her mastery of the classics, devotion to the Greeks, intimate acquaintance with international theatre artists like Arianne Mnouchkine, Simon McBurney, Peter Brook, Giorgio Strehler, Andrei Serban, Liviu Ciulei and Jerzy Grotowski, and her embrace of the legends and theatrical conventions of Asian theatre art exemplify the range of her aesthetic. And perhaps most thrilling of all is her personal story and its intersection with the harrowing job of rebuilding a ruined theatre and re-imagining a collapsed institution while remaining a devoted wife, mother of two, and citizen of a city and country in the throes of economic and political crisis. Carey Perloff is a lucid and penetrating critic, a passionate and at times hilarious raconteur, an erudite scholar and a warm and generous heart. Her memoir is moving because it is courageous. She tells it like it is and her assessment of the current state of liberal arts and our accelerated and mediated age is a fair warning. She cherishes what the theatre brings and what William Ball envisioned when he created A.C.T., and she aptly quotes Lorca: 'We must always remember . . . that our task is to offer a cup of beauty to the public so that, in drinking, they will understand themselves.'"--Frank Galati, Actor, Writer and Director