In January, Seattle Repertory artistic director Dan Sullivan announced his plan to end his 17-year tenure at the theatre in June 1996, his replacement being Sharon Ott, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. Ott announced her resignation from Berkeley Nov. 1996, at which point the search for a new head was on. On April 21, the Berkeley Rep Board of Trustees announed its choice: Tony Taccone, who has served as associate artistic director at the company since 1988. He begins his new tasks July 1.
Taccone will be only the third artistic director in the 30-year history of Berkeley Rep.
Taccone, currently in Ashland directing Pentecost, served as artistic director of San Francisco's The Eureka Theatre for seven years before joining Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 1988. Tony Kushner's Angels In America was commissioned at Eureka during those years, and Taccone co-directed the epic with Oskar Eustis when it world premiered at L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum. Taccone's stagings at Berkeley Rep include Serious Money, Slavs! and The Birthday Party.
Of Taccone, managing director Susan Medak said, "I'm delighted that Tony's fine qualities rose above the field."
When Ott resigned her Berkeley post, she said, "The great gift I received when I first arrived at Berkeley Rep was the wealth of talented artists who were in our circle of collaboration. It has been a circle of growth over the years...and it is a gift that will greet my successor in this enviable position." "Sharon Ott has been a great artistic diector here for the past 13 years," noted Board of Trustees president A. George Battle. "She has brought this theatre to national rank, which will serve us well as we begin our national search for our next Artistic Director -- only the third artistic transition in the Rep's thirty seasons of production. We're optimistic about our future and the expansion plans we have in place, and we wish Sharon every success in Seattle."
Among the 20 plays Ott directed for Berkeley Rep (which grew to an annual budget of $5 million under her domain) were Dream Of A Common Language by Heather McDonald and Philip Kan Gotanda's Yankee Dawg You Die. Ott's final directing assignment at Berkeley Rep was Heather McDonald's An Almost Holy Picture in April, 1997.
-- By David Lefkowitz