There's going to be a Celebration with The Dead and Olympia Dukakis in the American Conservatory Theatre's season 2001-2002. The San Francisco venue will stage Harold Pinter's Celebration, hot on the heels of its New York premiere in July, as well as the Tony Award-winning musical James Joyce's The Dead and Constance Congdon's stage adaptation of Maxim Gorky's The Mother starring Olympia Dukakis.
Celebration, appopriately, kicks off the season in a double bill with Pinter's first play, The Room, Sept. 13-Oct. 14. Celebration is a satire on modern nouveau riche Londoners, who stab each other in back at a high class restaurant, while The Room finds several mysterious strangers bidding for the same room. ACT artistic director Carey Perloff directs the one-acts, first presented together by the Almeida Theatre in 1999. The same double bill, albeit in a British production directed by Pinter himself, will be presented in New York City's Lincoln Center Festival 2001 July 24-28.
Richard Nelson, whose Goodnight Children Everywhere recently ended its run at ACT, returns to direct his James Joyce's The Dead for which the playwright received a 1999 Tony Award for best book. The musical play, with music and lyrics based on Irish folk tunes by Nelson and Shaun Davey, is adapted from Joyce's "The Dead," his most famous tale from "The Dubliners." The Dead, set at Christmas time when an old song brings the memory of a dead lover back to Gabriel Morkan's wife, a memory that haunts him instead, runs Oct. 25-Nov. 25.
Academy Award winner Dukakis ("Moonstruck") takes the title role in The Mother, adapted from Vassa Zheleznova by Congdon (Tales of the Lost Formicans). Set in a time of economic woe, the determined Vassa will do whatever she has to to keep her business and her family even as her husband is dying. That includes infanticide, forgery, murder and blackmail in this satire by Gorky ("The Diary of a Madman"). Perloff directs the comedy running May 9, 2002-June 9, 2002.
Also in the ACT season are: • Amy Freed's biographical comedy concerning Shakespeare's authorship of his plays, The Beard of Avon, directed by Mark Rucker and running Jan. 10-Feb. 10, 2002
• Tennessee Williams' classic drama The Glass Menagerie, directed by Laird Williamson (Machinal, Long Days' Journey Into Night) and running March 29-April 28, 2002
• Buried Child, Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a farm family with a secret buried in the back yard, directed by Les Waters (2000's hit Glengarry Glen Ross) and running June 14-July 14, 2002
• A Charles Randolph-Wright project, pairing the director of Insurrection: Holding History and Tartuffe with a new play, running Feb. 21-March 24
The American Conservatory Theatre will also host two extra shows - the traditional holiday staging of A Christmas Carol and a brief run of Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers adapted Charles Dicken's famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the true meaning of Christmas for its Dec. 8-29 run. Cambodia, written and performed by Gray, will play Dec. 26-31.
American Conservatory Theatre is located at 415 Geary Street. For ticket information, call (415) 749-2250. American Conservatory Theatre is on the web at http://www.act-sfbay.org.