Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, has been named the recipient of the 2012 Margo Jones Award presented by The Ohio State University Libraries and OSU Arts and Humanities. The award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, and who have encouraged the living theatre everywhere. The honor will be given to Taccone at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre October 12.
“All the sparkling, descriptive words and phrases we use to define the legacy of Margo Jones – impact, understanding, affirmation, encouragement, commitment to the craft of playwriting, encouragement of new writers — are woven into Tony’s inspiring and creative work at Berkeley Rep,” said Deborah Robison, a member of the awards committee. “We are happy, in Margo’s name, to be honoring and celebrating his significant contribution to the theatre.”
“I consider it a privilege to have enjoyed a long and prolific career in the theatre,” Taccone comments. “In addition to generous helpings of luck, success in this field depends on spectacular collaborators – and the archetypal collaborator for anyone in regional theatre, the standard-bearer of our movement, was Margo Jones. She was committed to creating art for her community while simultaneously crafting new work that would speak to a larger audience across the nation and across time. So it is an honor to receive this award, a compliment to be considered alongside so many other accomplished artists, and a tribute to all the collaborators who helped Berkeley Rep reach its present level of achievement.”
During Taccone’s tenure, the Tony Award-winning nonprofit has earned a reputation as an international leader in innovative theatre and an incubator of new plays. In those 15 years, Berkeley Rep has presented more than 60 world, American, and West Coast premieres and sent 18 shows to New York, two to London, one to Hong Kong, and many more on tour.
As a director, Taccone has staged more than 35 plays at Berkeley Rep, including new work from Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, Quincy Long, Itamar Moses, and Lemony Snicket. In the last decade, seven shows developed in Berkeley landed on Broadway, including two that he directed: Sarah Jones’ Bridge & Tunnel and Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking. He directed the productions that transferred to London as well: Continental Divide at the Barbican and Tiny Kushner at the Tricycle Theatre. Taccone commissioned Tony Kushner’s legendary Angels in America, co-directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum, and collaborated with Kushner on seven projects including Brundibar, which featured designs by Maurice Sendak and played off Broadway. His regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Arizona Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group, the Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, the Huntington Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. In addition, Taccone served six years as artistic director at San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre, before coming to Berkeley Rep. Last season, Taccone turned his hand to playwriting and debuted Ghost Light and Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup.
The Margo Jones Award celebrates her work in support of theatre – Jones’ pioneering efforts in the development of professional regional theatre, her tireless championing of new plays, and her nurturing of new playwrights. Through the professional theatre that she founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, Jones produced new work such as William Inge’s Farther Off from Heaven, Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, and Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s Inherit the Wind, which later opened at the National Theatre in New York. Although her professional accomplishments were cut short by her untimely death in 1955, the pattern Jones created for developing theatre works became a standard for producing new plays. The award was established in 1961 by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, and has been administered by the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute since 1993.
Additional support for the award is made possible by a bequest from Jones’ colleague J. B. (Tad) Adoue III. Among the numerous previous recipients are Lucille Lortel, Adrian Hall, Joseph Papp, Jane Alexander, André Bishop, Al Hirschfeld, Ellen Stewart, Mel Gussow, Christopher Durang and Marsha Norman, Bill Rauch, and Anne Cattaneo.