Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play Angels in America, commissioned by and first produced at San Francisco's Eureka Theater in 1991, will be having its first full production in the Bay Area in over 20 years next spring at Berkeley Rep, and it marks the beginning of a swan song of sorts for the Rep's longtime artistic director Tony Taccone.
Taccone, 65, announced his retirement earlier this year, having served as the theater's head creative force since 1996 and as its associate artistic director for 11 years prior to that, but he'll be remaining on board through the end of the company's 50th anniversary season, the 2018-2019 season, allowing for a long and carefully planned transition.
"I’ve never been more excited about Berkeley Rep and the work that we’re doing than I am right now," Taccone said in a statement in January. "But I also want to leave the job while I’m still ambulatory and give someone else the opportunity to provide artistic leadership."
Today the theater announced the plays selected for the 2017-2018 season, of which Taccone will direct three, and which include Kushner's epic, two-part masterwork that's a meditation on American politics of the 20th century, the AIDS epidemic, sexuality, and religion, and that made a splash on Broadway after Taccone himself commissioned the piece here in SF. As the theater says in today's release, "In today’s socio-political climate, Kushner’s universal message of compassion and inclusion makes Angels in America as timely as ever." The plays two full-length parts, Part One: Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika, will be directed by Taccone and play in repertory starting in March 2018.
Taccone is a longtime friend and collaborator of Kushner's, but this will be the first time he's directed both parts of Angels at the Rep after the 1991 Eureka production that would catapult Kushner to international fame. Taccone previously directed Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures in the 2013-2014 season, as well as a series of one-acts dubbed Tiny Kushner in the 2009-2010 season.
Also part of the new season will be a world premiere musical, Ain't Too Proud The Temptations, about the famed Motown group, written by Dominique Morisseau, which will open the season in August 2017; and a new play by Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket titled Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit , which was developed at the Rep's incubator The Ground Floor and marks Handler's second collaboration with Taccone after Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead, which premiered during the 2010-2011 season. That show will open in October 2017, and will be directed by Taccone.
Coming shortly thereafter will be a revival of a 1941 play by Lillian Hellman, Watch on the Rhine, an anti-Nazi play about Americans' own obligations to the world written before Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II. It would later be turned into a film starring Bette Davis. Berkeley Rep associate director Lisa Peterson will direct, in a co-production with the Guthrie Theater, and that will open in November 2017.
Subscriber ticket packages for the new season go on sale here Thursday.