Serious drama on tap for ’12 in San Francisco theater buffs 

click to enlarge Delicious dialogue: From left, Rudy Guererro, Gendall Hernandez and Delia MacDougall appear in Word for Word’s “Food Stories.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Delicious dialogue: From left, Rudy Guererro, Gendall Hernandez and Delia MacDougall appear in Word for Word’s “Food Stories.”

Let’s call 2012 the year of the play. Of course there will be musicals, but there are some serious — and possibly seriously good — plays heading our way in the next few months. Maybe things will lighten up in summer, but as winter turns to spring, we’ll be reveling in a state of play.

‘Ghost Light’

The most eagerly awaited new play of the year arrives early with this collaboration between two noted artistic directors, Tony Taccone of Berkeley Repertory Theatre serving as playwright and California Shakespeare Theater’s Jonathan Moscone as director — and subject. “Ghost Light” is a fictionalized account of Moscone’s life in the theater and his relationship with his father, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated in 1978. [Jan. 6-Feb. 8, $14.50-$73. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org]

‘Food Stories: Pleasure Is Pleasure’

Word for Word, the company that turns short stories into fully staged theater pieces without changing a word of the original text, is going full-on foodie. T.C. Boyle’s “Sorry Fugu” is about a dreaded food critic’s imminent arrival at a small restaurant, and Alice McDermott’s “Enough” is about a woman whose life story can be chronicled through desserts, from the depths of stewed fruit to the ecstasies of ice cream. [Jan. 11-Feb. 5. $30-$55. Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F., (800) 838-3006, www.zspace.org]

‘Now Circa Then’

What could be more romantic than working in a tenement museum? Playwright Carly Mensch imagines two mismatched historical re-enactors falling for each other while on the job in New York’s Tenement Museum. In real life, and maybe even in romantic comedies, it’s possible to live too much in the past. [March 7-April 1. $29-$49. Lucie Stern Theatre, Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org]

‘Scorched’

Academy Award nominee David Strathairn returns to American Conservatory Theater for the first time since playing Prospero in the 1996 production that re-opened the Geary Theater. This time around, he’s in an internationally produced Canadian play called “Scorched” by Wajdi Mouawad (the acclaimed film version came out last year) in which a brother and sister travel to the Middle East to find the family they didn’t know they had. [Feb. 16-March 11. $9.50-$90. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org]

‘Tenderloin’

Cutting Ball Theatre presents a world premiere written and directed by Annie Elias, a specialist in documentary theater. Working with a team of seven local actors, Elias dove headlong into the gritty neighborhood surrounding the EXIT on Taylor where Cutting Ball performs and crafted a vivid portrait of a city in all its social and economic diversity. The play, created from interview transcripts, promises a powerful fusion of theater and reality. [April 27-May 27. $10-$50. EXIT on Taylor, 227 Taylor St., S.F., (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com]

‘The Caretaker’

In 1960, up-and-coming playwright Harold Pinter broke through with this hugely successful three-person, three-act drama and its blend of absurdist comedy and dark, enigmatic drama. SHN imports the acclaimed 2009 production from Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre. Jonathan Pryce, a two-time Tony Award winner (“The Comedians,” “Miss Saigon”), stars as Davies, a drifter brought into the home of two battling brothers. [March 28-April 22. Tickets by subscription only. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F., (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com]

‘The Waiting Period’

After the extraordinary success of his “Not a Genuine Black Man,” comedian and TV personality Brian Copeland is back with a new solo show about his battle with depression. The title comes from the state-mandated waiting period prior to finalizing the purchase of a gun, which, by the way, Copeland had planned to use on himself. Not to worry though, Copeland’s deep wells of good humor are present and accounted for, even with such a serious subject. [Feb. 2-March 24. $15-$35. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F., (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org]

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Chad Jones

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