Carey Perloff

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Carey Perloff is an internationally acclaimed director, producer, playwright, teacher and artistic director who has been providing leadership in the American theater for over thirty years. Her directing and writing work has been seen across the country and internationally. Perloff served as Artistic Director of CSC Repertory in New York from 1988- 1992 and of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 1992- 2018. Accomplishments at A.C.T. include: rebuilding the earthquake-damaged Geary Theater (through a $35 million capital campaign) and creating a new multi-venue performance space, the Strand, to provide a home for new work, new artists and new audiences in an underserved community in SF (a second $35 million campaign); reanimating and teaching in A.C.T.'s acclaimed MFA program in Acting; creating a diverse Core Company of actors and a muscular repertoire of re-imagined classics and bold new work; creating international collaborations with a special focus on Canada and Asian-Pacific Rim work; raising a $40 million endowment; producing and directing eleven plays by Tom Stoppard in close collaboration with the author, and collaborating with some of the finest theater artists in the world including Olympia Dukakis, David Strathairn, Wendell Pierce, Bill Irwin, Ark Malik, Peter Reigert, Robert Wilson, Peter Brook, Morris Panych, Kim Collier, Basil Twist,  Timberlake Wertenbaker, David Lang, Tracy Chapman, Colm Toibin, Khaled Hosseni and many more. Perloff writes frequently on arts and culture, gender equity, arts education, actor training and how to create a more artist-centric non-profit theater.



     June 2018- present. Freelance director/playwright/professor/book author

     June 1992-2018: Artistic Director, AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER

     Nov. 1986-May, 1992: Artistic Director, CSC REPERTORY, CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY.

     1987-1992: Adjunct Professor, Dramatic Writing Program, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

     1990: Site Reporter for the NEA/Theater Program.

     July 1983-1986: Teaching Artist, LINCOLN CENTER INSTITUTE, NY.

     Nov. 1981-1986: Auditor, NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS, Theater and Presenting Programs

     June 1982-July 1983: Casting Assistant, NEW YORK SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL, Rosemarie Tischler, Casting Director

     Sept. 1981-June 1982: Program Manager, INTERNATIONAL THEATER INSTITUTE, NY



Fulbright Fellowship to St. Anne's College, Oxford University  (M.A. English Literature)

(grant awarded by the ITT International Fellowship)


B.A. Stanford University, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude

Major:   Classics and Comparative Literature

Minor:   Theater and Dramatic Literature (Overseas: Stanford Overseas Study in Florence


Honorary Doctorate, University of San Francisco, 2017

Honorary MFA, American Conservatory Theater 2018


1987 - 1992          

Adjunct Professor of Dramatic Writing, NYU

1992 - 2018              

Professor of Acting, Script Analysis and Classical Theater in A.C.T.'s MFA program

2021 - present            

Fromm Institute and Osher Lifelong Learning: “Secrets from the Rehearsal Room”, “The Art of Directing Theater”, “The Work of Harold Pinter”

and numerous lectures and guest teaching stints including “Directing Beckett and Pinter”, Columbia University Graduate Directing Program, Winter 2024


The Lehman Trilogy (First American production) Huntington Theater and Repertory Theater of St. Louis, May- September, 2023

Home? by Hend Ayoub (Voices Festival Productions, Washington, D.C. 2022)

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Ursula Rami Sarna from Khaled Hoseini's novel), A.C.T., Theater Calgary (Best Production 2016), the Old Globe (Outstanding Director Award, San Diego Theater Critics Assoc.), Seattle Rep, the Grand Theatre, London, Ontario, Seattle Repertory Theater, Arena Stage. (A Thousand Splendid Suns was created in collaboration with the Afghan diaspora community in Fremont, CA)

Hamlet (A.C.T.) starring John Douglas Thompson. Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare Theater, Calgary) starring Seana McKenna (involving a landmark collaboration with the Jewish Defamation League and Jewish community at University of Calgary to address rising anti-Semitism worldwide)

Queens (Martyna Majok), La Jolla Playhouse

Pale Fire (Colm Toibin), Gate Theatre, Dublin

Fatherville (collective creation with Basil Twist and Stephen Buescher), Strand Theater (a movement-theater piece about the complex nature of being and having a father, developed over three years with father and son teams across the Bay Area)

Monstress (Philip Kan Gotanda and Sean San Jose), Strand Theater 2015 (To open the new Strand Theater, we commissioned a new Filipino project with a largely Filipino cast and creative team, celebrating the Strand's new neighborhood and the rich contributions of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans to the Bay Area as a whole)     

The Tosca Project, a world premiere dance-theater piece with Val Caniparoli, A.C.T. and a Canadian tour including Theater Calgary and the Vancouver Playhouse, starring Lorena Feijoo, Pascal Molat, Rex Harrington, Dean Paul Gibson (this imaginative movement-theater piece was centered on a famous bar in San Francisco that has been a gathering place for artists from the Beats to Nureyev, from the 1920's to the present)

Scorched (Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau),(part of A.C.T.'s Middle East initiative)

Underneath the Lintel (Glen Berger), starring David Strathairn

For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again (Tremblay), Williamstown Theatre Festival and A.C.T. with Olympia Dukakis

The Orphan of Zhao  (James Fenton, trans.), starring B.D. Wong, A.C.T. and the La Jolla Playhouse  (the first production in the US of this important Chinese classical play, with an entirely Asian-American cast and in collaboration with the Chinatown Neighborhood Association of SF)

Testament of Mary (Colm Toibin), starring Seana McKenna

After the War (Philip Kan Gotanda), World Premiere Commission, A.C.T. and the Sundance Playwrights Conference (co-produced with the Japanese-American Cultural Council)

Boleros for the Disenchanted (Jose Rivera), starring Rachel Ticotin and Robert Beltran

Stoppard plays:      

Indian Ink (the Roundabout Theater NYC), starring Rosemary Harris and Romola Garai and American Conservatory Theater (American Premiere), starring Roberta Maxwell and Brenda Meaney;

The Hard Problem (created in collaboration with Artificial Intelligence thought leaders in the Bay Area to stimulate dialogue about the dangers and benefits of AI and its impact on contemporary life), Arcadia, The Real Thing, Travesties, Rock 'N Roll (A.C.T. and the Huntington Theater, U.S. Premiere), Night and Day, The Invention of Love (American premiere) with James Cromwell and Jason Butler Harner

Pinter plays:

The Homecoming, Celebration and The Room (American premiere) with Peter Riegert and Diane Venora, Old Times, with Pamela Reed, Graham Beckel and Michelle Morain, Mountain Language (American Premiere), CSC Repertory with Jean Stapleton and Peter Riegert, The Birthday Party (Pinter), CSC Repertory with Peter Riegert and David Strathairn, A.C.T. with Firdous Bamji and Judith Ivey

Musicals and Opera:

Happy End (Brecht and Weill) (Original cast album recorded at Skywalker Ranch),

Threepenny Opera (Brecht and Weill) starring Bebe Neuwirth, Anika Noni Rose, Nancy Dussault and Philip Casnoff

The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Lang, Wellman), World premiere of commissioned opera by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lang starring Julia Migenes, with Kronos Quartet,

No for an Answer (Blitzstein), World premiere w/ A.C.T's MFA students),      

Iphegenie en Tauride (Gluck), San Francisco Opera Center,      

The Cave, A new music-theater video opera by Steve Reich and Beryl Korot, premiered at the Vienna Festival, followed by a tour to the Hebbel Theater (Berlin), The Holland Festival, Royal Festival Hall (London), the opening of the Next Wave Festival (Brooklyn Academy of Music) and Theatre du Bobigny (Paris).

E&O Line, an electronic blues opera by Anne LeBaron, workshop at Musical Theater Works.

Canadian theater:

     Working extensively at theaters across Canada, I have developed new work with Canadian playwrights (Michel Tremblay, Michel Marc Bouchard, Alex Poch-Goldin, Diane Flacks) as well as directing at: Theater Calgary, Bard on the Beach, and frequently at the Stratford Festival of Canada: John Gabriel Borkman, starring Seana McKenna, Scot Wentworth and Lucy Peacock, Phedre starring Seana McKenna, Tom McCamus and Jonathan Goade, Private Lives starring Geraint Wynn-Davies and Lucy Peacock

Reimagined Classics:

     I  have spent much of my career reinvigorating great works from cultures around the world and from both ancient and modern times in order to illuminate our own contemporary condition and keep vigorous dramatic literature alive. Favorites include:

The Voysey Inheritance (Granville-Barker), A.C.T. and Kansas City Rep, The Government Inspector (Gogol) 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (John Ford), starring Michael Hayden, Phedre (Racine, translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker), Endgame and Play (Beckett), starring Bill Irwin, Elektra (Sophocles, in a new translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker) starring Olympia Dukakis, Getty Villa, Malibu and A.C.T., A Doll's House (Ibsen), in a new translation by Paul Walsh., The Three Sisters (Chekhov), Waiting for Godot (Beckett), Happy End (Brecht/Weill), A Mother (Congdon), a new adaptation from Gorky's Vassa Zheleznova, featuring Olympia Dukakis, Louis Zorich, Enrico IV (Pirandello),in a new translation by Richard Nelson, Misanthrope (Moliere), in a new translation by Constance Congdon, Mary Stuart (Schiller), in a new translation by Michael Feingold, music composed by David Lang and performed by Chanticleer (Huntington Theater), Hecuba (Euripides), Williamstown Theatre Festival and A.C.T. with Olympia Dukakis, Threepenny Opera (Weill, Brecht), A.C.T. with Anika Noni Rose and Bebe Neuwirth, The Rose Tattoo (Williams), A.C.T. with Kathleen Widdoes, The Tempest (Shakespeare), A.C.T. with David Strathairn, David Patrick Kelly, and Michael Tucker, Shadow Artist Larry Reed and music composed by David Lang and performed by the Kronos Quartet, Uncle Vanya (Chekhov, trans. Paul Schmidt, with Wendell Pierce), Antigone (Sophocles, trans. Timberlake Wertenbaker), with Elizabeth Pena, Creditors (Strindberg, trans. Paul Walsh), CSC Repertory, Shakuntala (Kalidasa, trans. Barbara Stoler Miller), Candide (Len Jenkin, after Voltaire), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Brecht, trans. Ralph Manheim), CSC Repertory starring John Turturro, The Tower of Evil (Dumas père, trans. Michael Feingold), CSC Repertory with Kathleen Widdoes., Happy Days (Beckett) with Charlotte Rae & The Collection (Pinter), Mark Taper Forum, Don Juan of Seville (de Molina, trans. Lynne Alvarez), Phaedra Britannica (Tony Harrison, after Racine), Chautauqua Institute and CSC Repertory with Bob Gunton and Caroline Lagerfelt, Electra (Ezra Pound, after Sophocles), CSC Repertory with Pamela Reed, Nancy Marchand, and Joe Morton, Skin of Our Teeth (Wilder), St. Joan of the Stockyards (Brecht), The Silver Tassie (O'Casey), Soho Rep Theater, NY. Greek (Berkoff) L.A. Theater Works, Best Production of 1983 (L.A. Drama Critics Circle), The Bed Bug (Mayakovsky)


Vienna, Vienna, Vienna (Finalist, 2023 Jewish Play Prize)

Edgardo or White Fire (commissioned and developed by the Williamstown Theater Festival) 2021-22, Finalist O'Neill Playwrights Conference 2022, Developed at the Kiln, People's Light, 2023 (Yury Urnov, dir.)

If God Were Blue (written on a Bogliasco Foundation Writing Residency in 2018, developed by NYSF, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Playmaker's Rep (Vivienne Benesch, director) and the Roundabout


The Fit , premiered at SF Playhouse, Bill English, director, June 2019, developed at Kansas City Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival 2017 (Davis McCallum, dir.), NYSF, (Daniel Aukin, dir.)

Kinship (World Premiere at the Theatre de Paris, October 2014, directed by Domenique Borg, starring Isabelle Adjani, Vittoria Scognamigila and Neils Schneider, American premiere Williamstown Theater Festival Summer 2015, starring Cynthia Nixon, directed by Jo Bonney, developed at Perry Mansfield Playwrights Lab and New York Stage and Film, Kilroys List of best new plays by women 2015

Higher (premiered at A.C.T. 2013, directed by Mark Rucker, winner of the 2012 Blanche and Irving Laurie Theater Visions Award for Best New American Play, developed at NYSF, the Contemporary Jewish Museum SF and the DNA Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Christopher Ashley

Waiting for the Flood (workshopped at NYSF (Directed by Chay Yew), Roundabout Theater, SF Playhouse (directed by Maria Mileaf) and CenterStage, Baltimore, directed by Daniella Topol

Luminescence Dating (Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Award, World Premiere at Ensemble Studio Theater, New York, directed by Will Pomerantz, SF premiere, Magic Theater, SF, 2010, directed by Mark Rucker, Winner of Bay Area Critics Circle Best Original Play, published by Dramatists Play Services 2010

The Rowboat Widow (Orchard Project 2014)

A Christmas Carol (adapted with Paul Walsh) World Premiere 2006 Geary Theater. Performed 2006 to the present at the Geary

The Colossus of Rhodes (An Epic of Greed, Vaudeville and Higher Education). Premiered at White Barn Theater, Westport, CT, August 2001. Nominated by the American Theater Critics Circle as one of the Best New Plays of 2001. Directed by Loy Arcenas. O'Neill Playwrights Conference 2000, SF Premiere at A.C.T. 2003, directed by Robin Phillips, finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, 2001




BEAUTIFUL CHAOS: A LIFE IN THE THEATER (City Lights Press, 2015, Selected as San Francisco's “One City One Book”)

Ezra Pound's ELEKTRA: The Acting Script with an Introduction and Program Notes by Carey Perloff (NY: New Directions Press, 1990)

KINSHIP (A New Play), Paris: l'Avant-Scene Theatre, 2015=4

Articles (selected):

·     “The Wisdom of Elders in Covid”, Clyde Fitch Report, 2021

·     Hath Not a Woman Eyes?How a Woman Shylock Changed the Merchant of Venice”, American Theater Magazine 2020

·     “Diary of an American in Finland”, New York Times, November 17, 2020

·     “Thinking about the Future of the American Theater”, Clyde Fitch Report, 2020

·     Tragedy Today”, PMLA 2014

·     Seven Avenues Towards the Heart of a Mystery”: an Introduction to Mac Wellman's Difficulty of Crossing a Field,

       Theater Magazine, Yale University, Volume 27, 1998.

·     “How Greek Is It: Producing Greek Tragedy in the Nineties” Theater Magazine, Yale University, Fall 1994.

·     “ Brecht and his Collaborators”, Theater Magazine, Yale University, Summer 1994          

·     Happy Days in Rehearsal”in Directing Beckett, Lois Oppenheim, editor

·     Pinter in Rehearsal: from The Birthday Party to Mountain Language” in Pinter at Sixty (Indiana University Press, 1993).

·     “Film is Evil, Radio is Good...or Could Be”,Theater Journal (Johns Hopkins Press), October 1991.

·     Keeping up the Mask: Some Observations on Directing Pinte”r, The Pinter Review, 1989.

·     A Conversation about Pinter” (with Susan Merritt), The Pinter Review, 1989

       Lectures (selected):     

·     Excavating Oedipus: Ancient Drama in the Contemporary Theater, USF 2023

·     Reimaging The Lehman Trilogy for an American Audience, SF State 2024

·     Segal Talk on Pinter and Stoppard: A Director's View (CUNY) November 2021

·     Segal Talk on the Future of American Theater (CUNY) May 20, 2021

·     “Classic Conversations” CSC Repertory, 2022

·     TEDXTalk “Why Theater Matters” 2014     

·     Aspen Institute, Keynote Speaker with John Guare on the Current Stage of the American Theater 2010

·     Numerous Graduation Addresses including Stanford Classics Department 2014, UC Department of Theater, Phi Beta Kappa Society

·     Hecuba and History (Interpreting Greek and Roman Theater for the Contemporary Stage, J. Paul Getty Museum), June 2000

·     How Greek Is It: Producing Greek Tragedy in the Nineties (1993 Maynard Mack Lecture, Yale University)

·     Pinter in Rehearsal: from The Birthday Party to Mountain Language (Keynote Address, The Pinter Conference, OSU 1991)

·     Translating the Classics: A Practical Approach (The Classics in Contemporary Culture: A Symposium), UCSD, 1990.

·     Phaedra in India: Transposing the Classics (Chautauqua Institute, July 1989)


·     2019 Craig Noel Outstanding Direction of a Play, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Old Globe

·     2018 Honorary MFA in Acting, American Conservatory Theater

·     2018 Bogliasco Writing Residency

·     2017, Honorary Doctorate, University of San Francisco

·     2017 Eugene O'Neill/Tao House Distinguished Artist Award

·     2017 Opera Parallele Distinguished Artist of the Year     

·     2016  Best Production, Theatre Calgary, for A Thousand Splendid Suns

·     2015 One City One Book recipient for BEAUTIFUL CHAOS: A LIFE IN THE THEATER

·     2012 Blanche and Irving Laurie Theater Visions Award for Best New American Play for Higher

·     2011 Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Government of France

·     2009  Best Original Script, Bay Area Theater Critics, for Luminescence Dating     

·     2002 The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist and American Theatre Critics Circle Award nomination for The Colossus of Rhodes

·     2000 Elliot Norton Prize for Best Production in a Regional Theater for Mary Stuart (Huntington Theater)

·     1999 Lucille Lortel Award to CSC Repertory for 30 years of excellence in the field

·     1997 Jujamcyn Award ($50,000) to A.C.T. for Creative Contribution to the Field

·     Dramalogue Award, Best Production (Williams, The Rose Tattoo) A.C.T. 1996

·     1994 Koret Israel Prize

·     Dramalogue Award, Best Production (Pinter, The Collection) Mark Taper Forum, 1989

·     OBIE Award for Artistic Excellence/CSC Repertory, 1988

·     Dramalogue Award for Outstanding Direction for The Collection (Mark Taper Forum)

·     TCG Observership Grant, awarded November 1986

·     National Theater Conference Award of $1,000 to a Theatrician with Outstanding Career Promise, January 1987

·     L.A. Drama Critics Award (Best Production), Greek

·     U.S./International Theater Institute Representative to Theater Der Welt, Stuttgart, 1987

·     Citation of Honor from the League of Professional Theater Women, NY


·     Board of Trustees, The Hermitage Foundation, Sarasota Florida

·     Etant Donnés French-American Fund for the Performing Arts Artistic Committee

·     Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays

·     Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Committee

·     California Institute of the Arts Design & Production Portfolio Review

·     Member, Women's Forum West

·     Selection Panel, Fund for New American Plays