ISBN-10: 1931404143
ISBN-13: 9781931404143
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 02/10/2015
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 6.00" W, 0.90" H

Published by City Lights

Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater


Price: $12.57


Carey Perloff, former Artistic Director of San Francisco’s legendary American Conservatory Theater, pens a lively and revealing memoir, 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.

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"Carey Perloff's lively, outspoken memoir of adventures in running and directing theatre will be a key document in the story of playmaking in America."–Tom Stoppard, Playwright
"Carey Perloff, quite literally, raised a vibrant new theater from the rubble of an old one. This refreshingly honest account of her triumphs and misfires over the past two decades is both a fascinating read and an invaluable handbook for anyone attempting such a labor of love."–Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City

"Carey Perloff's marvel of a book is part memoir of a working mother, a passionate artist, a woman flourishing in a male-dominated craft- and part lavish love letter to theater. It is as lively, thoughtful, and insightful an account I have ever read about the art form. This one is for any person who has ever sat in the dark and been spellbound by the transformative power of theater."–Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

"Carey Perloff is a veteran of the regional theatre wars. Beautiful Chaos is her vivacious account of her ambitious work commanding San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre (ACT). The book exudes Perloff's trademark brio: smart, outspoken, full of fun and ferment."–John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

"This is an engaged, engaging, deeply intelligent, and passionate account of why the theatre matters and how it works in a city and in a society. It is also a fascinating and essential chapter in the history of San Francisco itself, as well as the story of a committed theatre artist's determination and vision."–Colm Toibin, author of Nora Webster"Beautiful Chaos is an extraordinary journey of Carey Perloff and her theatre, ACT. Their continued evolution and ability to define and re-define themselves with courage, tenacity, and bravery allow them to confront what seem like insurmountable odds. This continues to shape and inspire Carey and those who work with her."–Olympia Dukakis, Academy Award-winning actress

"The big questions Perloff tackles–artistic experimentation versus commercial imperative, survival in a changing financial landscape, why make theater and for whom ? – are as pertinent in Britain as in San Francisco, or indeed anywhere people are making theater and trying to keep it afloat."–Laura Baggaley, Times Literary Supplement UK

"For anyone interested in the complexities of the art of theater, this lively, entertaining and informative book is a must."–Corinna Lothar, Washington Times

"In a truly inspiring and rewarding read, Perloff recounts her tenure as the artistic director of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). . . . Perloff's story will certainly appeal to theater lovers, but her memoir will also engage any reader interested in the story of a professional pioneer and an individual working to reinvent a struggling organization."Booklist

"Carey Perloff writes as she talks; with passion, profound insight and a warm and accessible style. The story of ACT under her stewardship is linked with her own growth as an artist and a citizen. She raises some questions, vital to the American theater and offers some provocative and innovative strategies for survival and success. This is not just a great read, it is an important book that demands attention."–Joe Dowling, Director, The Guthrie Theater

"Carey Perloff is one of the very few remaining artistic directors who have remained faithful to the original ideals of the American resident theatre, and her new theatrical biography, Beautiful Chaos, is an engrossing account of how difficult that has been for her in the current economic climate. Her devotion to global theatre, to reanimated classics, to the most penetrating new plays, and to rigorous theatrical training was hardly an easy thing to preserve during the last few profit-centered decades, which makes Beautiful Chaos both a readable adventure and a heroic narrative."--Robert Brustein, former Drama Critic at The New Republic

"When did we forget that theater is more than sedate art or bottom-line entertainment? How exhilarating to be reminded by Carey Perloff that it is still a grand adventure and a high calling. In Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater, we follow her quest to give San Francisco's renowned American Conservatory Theater a present and future as glorious as its past. A life in the theater demands vision and conscience, not to mention improvisation. A playwright, says Perloff, makes contradictory beliefs 'collide in real time and with equal force.' That's the pleasure of this book. We see her think, plan, persuade and fight; balance the personal and the political. We watch as art and history collide and collaborate. 'I'm a beast of the theater, ' Perloff declares. She's a noble beast. And she's a heroine."–Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic

"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."–Frank Galati, Actor, Writer and Director

"Carey Perloff's leadership of American Conservatory Theater is one of the reasons San Francisco remains a respected center of the art form in our country. . . . Perloff raises her voice in support of women in the workplace, in support of arts and artists, and, again and again, in support of live theater. The book is about a passion for theater that has seldom wavered for two decades."--Martin A. David, New York Journal of Books

"Out of Carey Perloff's 'Chaos' comes theatrical harmony."–Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times

"Memoir Shows American Conservatory Theater's Perloff Is a Force of Nature."–Lou Fancher, SF Weekly

"Beautiful Chaos is a must-read."–John F. Karr, Bay Area Reporter

"What carries Chaos, and makes it at times a compelling read, is Perloff's wide-ranging mind and often perceptive insights on matters artistic and more earthbound. She isn't one of those directors given to analyzing and probing her artistic or managerial misfires–there's very little second-guessing here, even on productions that, charitably, might be looked at as learning opportunities. But there are, yes, brilliant analyses of the work of such artists as Pinter, Samuel Beckett and Robert Wilson. There are passionate and persuasive arguments for the need for arts in the schools, actors' training and the development of what she calls 'locavore theater, ' as well as sharp looks at the tech-driven problems for companies trying to survive in San Francisco today."–Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

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ISBN-10: 1931404143
ISBN-13: 9781931404143
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 02/10/2015
Dimensions: 8.40" L, 6.00" W, 0.90" H
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