Beautiful Chaos
Beautiful Chaos
A Life in the Theater


Carey Perloff


Carey Perloff was born in Washington D.C., the daughter of a pediatric cardiologist from New Orleans (a Russian Jew) and a literary critic and English professor, Marjorie Perloff, who is an Austrian refugee. Her lifelong dream from age 8 was to be an archaeologist and travel to ancient Greece to excavate the next Troy, but instead she ended up studying ancient Greek at Stanford and migrating to the theater, where she first learned to direct by staging Greek tragedies outdoors, while studying theatrical modernism with Martin Esslin. She went to England on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1980, met her British husband, fell in love with the work of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, moved to New York, started directing classics and new plays all over town, and ended up running the Classic Stage Company when she was 27, saving it from financial ruin and staging the American premieres of Pinter's MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE, Tony Harrison's PHAEDRA BRITANNICUS, and the world premiere of Ezra Pound 's ELEKTRA, among many others. Perloff was the youngest person ever to be hired to run a major LORT theater when ACT chose her in 1992 to become its third Artistic Director; She took over a ruined building and demoralized and broke institution and set about to bring it back to life. She's had deep collaborations with Tom Stoppard, Philip Gotanda, Robert Wilson, Frank Galati, Timberlake Wertenbaker, with great actors like Bill Irwin, David Strathairn and Olympia Dukakis, and many other notable artists, She's written a number of award-winning plays, and has directed dozens of major reinterpretations of classical plays from HECUBA to TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE, has rebuilt the Geary from the ground up, and has now embarked upon a new theater mid-Market called The Strand as a second stage for ACT. She is married to lawyer Anthony Giles, and has two children, Alexandra (who graduated from Harvard in Art History and now works in Paris) and Nicholas who is a sophomore at Columbia and is best known as the electronic music producer FLAXO!