Spark visits California Shakespeare Theater’s Jonathan Moscone and Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Tony Taccone at the first read-through of their play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Their collaboration on American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle is inspired by the turbulent 1970s, brought into focus by the assassination of Moscone’s father, George Moscone, the San Francisco mayor who was shot, along with gay rights activist City Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. Aiming less to put George Moscone’s story into historical perspective, than to investigate what it means to be father and son, the play is scheduled to debut in 2011.
A New York native and graduate of Boston College, Tony Taccone arrived at Berkeley Rep in 1988, after directing San Francisco’s Eureka Theater for six years. As one of the leading directors in American regional theater, Taccone has developed a reputation for finding and nurturing unusual new works that have gone on to critical acclaim, including The Convict’s Return, Culture Clash in AmeriCCa, The First 100 Years, Geni(us), Ravenshead, and Virgin Molly. For some productions — like Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Stew’s Passing Strange, Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and Sarah Jones’s Bridge and Tunnel — Taccone has shaped and honed them before they made successful moves to off-Broadway and Broadway. Others have successfully gone on to different arenas, such as David Edgar’s Continental Divide, which transferred to London’s Barbican Theater and garnered international praise.
Taccone and Jonathan Moscone worked with each other during Moscone’s directorial internship at Berkeley Rep in 1989 before he left to pursue an M.F.A at Yale School of Drama. In 2000, Moscone assumed the directorship of Orinda’s California Shakespeare Festival, expanding the repertoire of the company to include award-winning productions of works by George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov, and Tom Stoppard. Critical accolades have also greeted his productions of Man and Superman, Nicholas Nickleby, Twelfth Night, and The Seagull as well as his production of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts for Berkeley Rep.
In a 2008 interview with the Bay Area Reporter, the younger Moscone, who was 14 years old at the time of the shooting, noted that his father “changed City Hall. He made a Harvey Milk possible. He helped Harvey succeed. He opened the doors of city power to those who had been denied entrance.”