Berkeley Repertory Theatre begins the New Year with the world-premiere production of Ghost Light, a new play conceived and developed by Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone. Written by Tony Taccone and directed by Jonathan Moscone, this haunting show conjures an imaginary world based on the historic assassination of Mayor George Moscone, the director’s father. Presented on the intimate Thrust Stage, Ghost Light begins previews on January 6, opens on January 11, and runs through February 19.
Ghost Light is a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The executive producers of the local run are Shirley D. and Philip D. Schild and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family; the National Endowment for the Arts serves as production sponsor. For the seventh straight year, BART and Wells Fargo are official sponsors of Berkeley Rep’s season. The season producers are Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Marjorie Randolph, and Jack and Betty Schafer.
Taccone comments: “It’s a real thrill and an honor to have collaborated with so many great people on this project, and to have an opportunity as a writer to imagine a fictional tale that is rooted in actual history. Jon has been an inspiration. He was utterly transparent and willing to explore every facet of his experience, yet he allowed me the freedom to write my own play. We look forward to sharing it with audiences in the Bay Area.”
“For years I never thought I had the permission to investigate the loss of my dad as both father and political figure through my art,” Moscone remarks. “Bill Rauch at OSF convinced me otherwise. And through this deep collaboration with Tony, I have brought my history firmly into my work, and used my work to meditate on my story, all of which has articulated a new identity for me as a theatre maker. I am so grateful to Bill, Tony, and our extraordinary company of actors and designers for contributing to a play that I hope resonates with people who Miss George, and with people who didn't even know him, but seek a way to remember those whom they have lost in their own lives.”
Ghost Light is a poetic collage of fiction and memory. When Jon was a boy, his father was shot – and suddenly their lives were part of history. Years later, when staging a production of Hamlet, the son must confront his buried feelings about a crime that shocked the nation. The ghost of the king stalks the battlements of a boy’s mind – and speaks to all of us about love and loss.
“Moscone and Taccone have taken pains to note that the play is fiction, not docudrama. Certainly the character of Jon seems to combine Taccone’s lacerating wit and Moscone’s big-heartedness. But it's the weight of history that gives this play its gravitas, from a son’s anger that his father’s memory has been eclipsed by the legacy of Harvey Milk to the courage of an artist seeking solace in the Bard… This piece fuses the intimate and the epic with riveting results,” remarks Karen D’Souza in the Mercury News. “Ghost Light may mean most to those of us who called San Francisco home on that dark day in 1979, when Moscone and Milk were killed. But Jon's witty, turbulent and compelling quest to make peace with a lost father resonates universally, too,” asserts Misha Berson in the Seattle Times. “Taccone's snappy, fierce and sometimes hilariously bitchy dialogue is reminiscent of Tony Kushner's plays.” “Deeply moving,” adds Dan Bacalzo of TheaterMania. “There's a good balance between humor and drama, with certain moments packing such a powerful punch that they are likely to reduce audience members to tears.”
Tony Taccone (playwright) is artistic director of Berkeley Rep, where he has staged more than 35 shows – including world premieres by Culture Clash, Rinde Eckert, David Edgar, Danny Hoch, Geoff Hoyle, Quincy Long, Itamar Moses, and Lemony Snicket. Taccone took two shows from Berkeley Rep to Broadway: Sarah Jones’ Tony Award-winning Bridge & Tunnel and Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking. He commissioned Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, co-directed its world premiere, and has collaborated with Kushner on seven projects including Brundibar and Tiny Kushner. Two of Taccone’s recent shows transferred to London: Continental Divide played the Barbican in 2004, and Tiny Kushner played the Tricycle Theatre in 2010. Known as a director, Taccone recently turned his hand to playwriting, and this is one of two scripts he penned to see its premiere in the past year.