Carey Perloff

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Tom Stoppard and Carey Perloff

Carey Perloff, Harold Pinter during rehearsals  at Classic Stage Company in 1989 Photo by Tom Chargin

Carey Perloff and Harold Pinter

Tom Stoppard, Carey Perloff, 2012, in Rehearsal for THE HARD PROBLEM at A.C.T.  Photo by Kevin Berne


A Director's View

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This study links two seemingly divergent artists in a revisionist context that sheds new light on both. While it is generally assumed that Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard sit at opposite ends of the aesthetic, theatrical and political spectrum, I argue that by examining them together, many new insights can be gleaned about their work and their place in the theatrical canon. This contention is supported by my extensive archival information, arising from three decades of close collaboration with both playwrights.

It is my belief that a play yields its meaning most vividly and specifically through the actual process of casting, designing, rehearsing, staging and producing. Over the course of my career as a director and an Artistic Director, first at the Classic Stage Company in New York (from 1988-1992) and then at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco (1992-2018), I worked on numerous occasions with both Pinter and Stoppard in the rehearsal room and was able to develop an understanding of how to unlock the plays through practical and analytic means.

This book does not cover the entire oeuvre of either writer, but references the major plays while focusing on selected works as case studies for the understanding of fundamental “rules of play” pertaining to each writer. By reexamining their artistic biographies, and in particular by teasing out the fascinating impact that being Jewish (and thus “outsiders”) had on the nature of Pinter and Stoppard's work, I provide new ways of positioning their plays for the current moment.

This reevaluation of Pinter and Stoppard's work moves beyond academic notions of “postmodern” and “realistic” drama to provide a contemporary director's point of view on the way their work functions today as drama on stage. Thirty years after the major criticism on both playwrights first emerged, the time has come for a fresh examination of the unique contribution of their work in the twenty-first century.

To all of you who came to one of my book launch events, thank you for your support! It was a great opportunity to connect and have a conversation about my experience with two of the  greatest playwrights of our time. I also want to thank the independent booksellers, noted below, who have generously hosted these programs!



Green Apple Books, San Francisco

The Oxford Playhouse Panel, London

Carey Perloff and Hermione Lee

in conversation

City Lights, San Francisco

Carey Perloff and Michael Chabon

in conversation

Book Passage, San Francisco


Artist Salon

Institute for Advanced Studies at

Princeton University

"Secrets from the Rehearsal Room"



SEGAL TALKS with Carey Perloff

A conversation about her new book

Pinter and Stoppard: A Director's View

Moderator: Frank Hentschker, Director, MESTC

The Graduate Center CUNY

Broadcast Live December 6, 2021

Professor Dame Hermione Lee

Photo by Toilm Pilston


Michael Chabon


June 2022 launch event

LA Times Interview:

"Tom Stoppard's Jewish roots: Carey Perloff on Broadway's acclaimed play of the season"

- Charles McNulty

November 28, 2022

"The more I've dug into Stoppard's biography, the clearer it has become that, in spite of appearing to be a quintessential Englishman, he's always been an outsider. . (He once said he occasionally feels like he's in England “on a press pass.) "

Link to Carey's full interview

Excerpt from American Theater:

"Fragments, Loss, and Language: On the Jewishness of Pinter and Stoppard

In her new book Pinter and Stoppard: A Director’s View (Methuen Drama), Carey Perloff explores her collaborations and discoveries in the rehearsal room alongside two great English playwrights, with an eye to what future interpreters can learn about these writers and their work. In this excerpt, which has been condensed and edited for this context, she hones in one of Pinter and Stoppard’s less noted commonalities."