Announcing the American Conservatory Theater's next season at a press
conference on Monday, ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff said she had
searched for a suitable follow-up to the multimedia biggie opening the
current season: the Robert Wilson-directed "The Black Rider," with music
by Tom Waits.
And so, the curtain-raiser on the 2005-'06 season, on Aug. 25, will
be another unusual musical spectacle: "a wordless theater piece" from
Canada, by Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling, based on Gogol's "The
Overcoat," with music by Shostakovich. Unlike the live band for Black
Rider, however, the future multimedia production will use recorded music,
a generous selection of excerpts from the piano concertos, the Tenth
Symphony, the Tenth String Quartet, ballet suites and the First Jazz
Suite. Mario Bernardi conducts the CBC Radio Orchestra in most of the
selections, with Angela Cheng (piano) and Jens Lindemann (trumpet).
At the end of the season, Shakespeare will return to the ACT after years
of absence, with "King Lear," James Cromwell in the title role. The
Farmer Hoggett of "Babe," the doctor to Al Pacino's Roy Cohn in "Angels
in America," Cromwell is currently seen in "Six Feet Under", the demise
of which makes it possible for him to take this most demanding of roles
in all theater.
Cromwell, last appeared in the Geary Theater as A.E. Housman in Tom
Stoppard's "The Invention of Love." Perloff said when she told Stoppard
about "Jimmy as Lear," the playwright said: "I have to see this!,"
possibly returning to San Francisco again in yet another of countless
visits here from London.
Cromwell spoke briefly and passionately at the press conference about
the upcoming "communal effort" (Carey will direct, but the actor said,
"the play is called LEAR, although a king is only a king because he is
made that by others"), saying the play is "about a time of crisis, the
end of the world, the need for species to learn then as now that it
cannot continue to behave the way it has."
Ahmanson Theater music director Karl Fredrik Lundeberg has been commissioned
to write a score for ACT's new production of "A Christmas Carol", Perloff
and Paul Walsh creating a version to replace the one that ran for 27
seasons. Because it serves as an entry point to the theater for so many
children and young people, low ticket prices (starting at $10) will be
maintained for "Carol." ACT's youth and training programs, by the way,
accommodate a startling total of 2,500 participants each year, starting
careers for many, including four current award winners: Annette Bening,
Teri Hatcher, Anika Noni Rose, and Omar Metwally.
The next season - ACT's 39th and Perloff's 13th as artistic director -
will also feature the West Coast premiere of Caryl Churchill's "A Number",
Rene Augesen in the 50th anniversary production of Tennessee Williams's
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", new productions of Sheridan's "The Rivals" and
David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago."
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