There was some tragic and unexpected news today in the local theater community. Talented and acclaimed theater director Mark Rucker, who has served as Associate Artistic Director at American Conservatory Theater here in SF since 2010, was found dead in his apartment Tuesday, as the Chronicle reports. He was 56 years old and was at work on a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!, which was set to open at ACT in October. The cause of death remains unknown.

ACT's principal artistic director Carey Perloff says in a statement, "The A.C.T. community is mourning the passing of our beloved Mark Rucker. He was a treasured friend, an inspirational colleague, a brilliant artist and an extraordinary mentor to generations of young theater artists. We will miss him terribly."

Going back over a decade, Rucker has directed a number of acclaimed productions at ACT, including the boundary-pushing, Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, which was easily one of the most stunningly original pieces the theater has produced in several years.

Other ACT mainstage productions directed by Rucker were Maple and Vine; Higher; Once in a Lifetime; Marcus, or The Secret of Sweet; The Rainmaker; and The Beard of Avon, which marked his ACT debut in 2002. He also worked at The Magic Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and the California Shakespeare Theater, where he directed Noel Cowards’ “Blithe Spirit” three summers ago.

He was also well known for directing the film version of Charles Busch's play, Die, Mommy, Die!, which received a special jury prize at Sundance in 2003.

Funeral and memorial services have yet to be announced.