Carey Perloff

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Carey Elizabeth Perloff (born February 9, 1959) is an American theater director and playwright. She was the artistic director of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco from 1992 to June 2018.


Perloff was born in Washington, D.C., to Marjorie Perloff, a professor and poetry critic, and Joseph K. Perloff, a professor of medicine and pediatrics and cardiologist. She attended Stanford University, where she received a B.A. Phi Beta Kappa in classics and comparative literature. After graduating from Stanford in 1980, Perloff attended St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, as a Fulbright Fellow and spent two summers directing at the Edinburgh Festival, where she met her husband, attorney Anthony Giles.[1] She makes her home in San Francisco and is the mother of two children, Alexandra Perloff-Giles and Nicholas Perloff-Giles, also known as the producer and DJ "Wingtip." .

Professional career[edit]

Perloff worked as an administrator at the International Theater Institute, then as a casting assistant with Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, while launching her directing career off-off Broadway. In 1986 she was named artistic director of the Off-Broadway Classic Stage Company (CSC), where she worked until becoming the artistic director of A.C.T. in 1992.[2]

At CSC, Perloff directed the world premiere of Ezra Pound’s Elektra, the American premiere of Harold Pinter’s Mountain Language, and many classic works. Under her leadership, CSC won numerous OBIE Awards, including the 1988 OBIE for artistic excellence. She served on the faculty of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University for seven years.[3]

In 1993, Perloff directed the world premiere of Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s opera The Cave at the Vienna Festival and Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has also directed a new Elektra, adapted by Timberlake Wertenbaker, for the Getty Villa in Los Angeles in 2010.[4]

American Conservatory Theater[edit]

In 1992, Perloff was appointed artistic director of A.C.T.,[5] where her first task was to raise $31 million to rebuild the earthquake-damaged Geary Theater (now the American Conservatory Theater), which reopened in January 1996 with Perloff's production of The Tempest, starring David Strathairn. Perloff's tenure at A.C.T. has been marked by the creation of a new core company of actors; revitalization of the acclaimed A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program; receipt of the 1996 Jujamcyn Theaters Award, honoring A.C.T.’s efforts to develop creative talent for the theater; a series of international collaborations, including The Virtual Stage and Electric Company Theatre's multi-media adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit,[6] Robert Wilson and Tom WaitsThe Black Rider, Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling's The Overcoat, and Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter; and the American premieres of plays by Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter.

Perloff's directorial work for A.C.T. includes: The Tosca Project (co-created with choreographer Val Caniparoli; world premiere), Phèdre, Boleros for the Disenchanted, Rock 'n' Roll, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Government Inspector, After the War (world premiere), Travesties, Happy End, A Christmas Carol (co-adapted with Paul Walsh; world premiere), The Voysey Inheritance (adapted by David Mamet; world premiere), The Real Thing, A Mother, A Doll's House, Waiting for Godot, The Three Sisters, Night and Day, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (world premiere), Celebration (world premiere), The Room, Enrico IV, The Misanthrope, The Invention of Love (American premiere), The Threepenny Opera, Indian Ink (American premiere), Old Times, Mary Stuart, Singer's Boy (world premiere), The Rose Tattoo, The Tempest, Arcadia, Hecuba, Home, Uncle Vanya, Antigone, Bon Appétit, Creditors, Hilda, No for an Answer (world premiere), her own play The Colossus of Rhodes, Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming and James Fenton’s adaptation of The Orphan of Zhao, starring BD Wong.

Perloff will retire after A.C.T.'s 2017-2018 season to pursue her freelance and writing career.[7] Pam MacKinnon will become the next artistic director of A.C.T.[8]


Perloff’s play The Colossus of Rhodes, which premiered at the White Barn Theatre in Westport, CT, in 2001,[9] was a Susan Smith Blackburn Award finalist.

Her play Luminescence Dating premiered in New York at The Ensemble Studio Theatre in 2005; it was coproduced by A.C.T. and Magic Theatre.[10] Her play Waiting for the Flood has received workshops at A.C.T. (2006),[11] New York Stage and Film, and Roundabout Theatre Company.

Her one-act The Morning After was a finalist for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Perloff’s play, Higher, was developed at New York Stage and Film and was presented at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum in November 2010.

Her play Kinship was translated into French and performed in Paris in 2014, with Isabelle Adjani, making her return to the theater after a long absence, in the starring role.[12]


Perloff is a recipient of France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the National Corporate Theatre Fund’s 2007 Artistic Achievement Award. In 2011 Perloff won the Blanche and Irving Laurie Theater Visions Award for her play Higher.[13]


She wrote a book dealing with the "challenges confronting the American theater", Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater, published by City Lights in 2015.[14]


  1. ^ Rogers, Diane. "The Company She Keeps", March/April 2002
  2. ^ "Classic Stage Company Names Artistic Director" The New York Times, December 4, 1986
  3. ^ Launer, Pat. "Theater: Carey Perloff Play Aims 'Higher' " San Diego Jewish Journal, February 3, 2014
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Carey Perloff Will Direct 'Elektra' for Getty Villa in CA" Playbill, July 2, 2010
  5. ^ Dodd, Richard. "The Drama Queen of Noe Valley: Off Stage with ACT's Carey Perloff", September 1998
  6. ^ Hurwitt, Robert. (April 15, 2011). "No Exit review: Welcome to Hotel Sartre". San Francisco Chronicle, p. F1. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Janiak, Lily. "Perloff to Step Down" sfgate, March 23, 2017
  8. ^ "Tony, OBIE, and Drama Desk Award Winner Pam Mackinnon Named New Artistic Director At American Conservatory Theater", January 23, 2018
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Perloff, the Playwright, Gets Debut in CT With 'Colossus of Rhodes', Aug. 3-5" Playbill, August 3, 2001
  10. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "A.C.T. Meets Magic in First Co-Production as 'Luminescence Dating' Starts in SF Nov. 29" Playbill, November 29, 2006
  11. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Olympia Dukakis and Judith Ivey Take First Look at New Plays in A.C.T. Festival" Playbill, January 3, 2006
  12. ^ Todd, Andrew. " 'Kinship' review - Isabelle Adjani returns to stage in humdrum Freudian triangle" The Guardian, November 25, 2014
  13. ^ Coakley, Jacob. "Carey Perloff Wins Theatre Visions Fund Award", November 22, 2011
  14. ^ McNulty, Charles. "Out of Carey Perloff's 'Chaos' comes theatrical harmony" Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2015

External links[edit]