Ralph Bryan, President of the Board of Trustees of La Jolla Playhouse today announced that Artistic Director Des McAnuff
will not be renewing his contract, scheduled to expire in 2007. He will continue with his current commitments to the Playhouse until April 2007 and will then assume a newly created position as Director Emeritus. This new position will allow McAnuff to pursue other creative opportunities while maintaining his relationship with La Jolla Playhouse.
Two-time Tony® Award winner McAnuff served as Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse from 1983 to 1994, reviving the dormant Playhouse as an important cultural resource for San Diego and as a nationally renowned theatre center. Since his return to the Playhouse in 2001, more than half of the plays and musicals that the Playhouse has produced in that time have been original works, including the McAnuff-helmed Jersey Boys recently awarded four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Also during his tenure, the Playhouse opened the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for La Jolla Playhouse featuring the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, the Playhouse's first permanent home for rehearsals, administration and enhanced production space.
"Des has brought inspired, visionary leadership to La Jolla Playhouse," said Board President Ralph Bryan. "Since his return in 2001, he has re-energized our theatre's reputation, garnering national accolades as a center for new play development and as a creative haven for our nation's leading artists. Des has also rejuvenated the community's interest in the Playhouse, significantly increasing the number of donors and subscribers and extending the reach of our educational programs."
The Board of Trustees has approved the formation of a search committee to undertake the process of recruiting a new Artistic Director. They are utilizing the services of Management Consultants for the Arts, a multi–service consulting firm nationally recognized for its work in executive leadership searches for arts organizations.
Bryan commented, "It is our challenge to find a new artistic director who can build on Des' strong foundation of excellent artistry, unfettered creativity and exemplary leadership. And, we look forward to a rewarding continued relationship with Des in his new role as Director Emeritus."
Playhouse Managing Director Steven B. Libman noted, "The ample notice that Des has given us will ensure the Playhouse has appropriate time for our search. Our goal is to have a new Artistic Director by April 2007 so that he or she will be in place to plan the 2008 season. Until that time, we all look forward to continuing to work with Des as he plans the 2007 season, directs The Wiz, which begins performances on September 26, and directs the Page To Stage workshop production of The Farnsworth Invention, which begins performances on February 20, 2007. And we look forward to working with him on projects in the future."
"I have deeply enjoyed serving as Artistic Director and look forward to making my new role as Director Emeritus as meaningful and impactful as possible," said McAnuff. "It is my intention to continue to direct plays, raise funds for the Playhouse and serve as an ambassador for the institution far into the future. There is no doubt in my mind that La Jolla Playhouse is absolutely at the forefront of the American resident theatre movement and we expect to attract exceptionally strong leadership after a rigorous search."
When asked about his decision to leave the Playhouse, McAnuff noted, "This decision has been motivated by both outside opportunities that have recently presented themselves and by my commitments to projects born from my work at La Jolla Playhouse. It is imperative to me as well as to the Playhouse that I honor these obligations to the artists involved. For these professional reasons — and for personal reasons — it has become crucial for me to spend more time in New York."
Further information on McAnuff's artistic plans will be announced in the near future.
"I consider my role in the rebirth and development of La Jolla Playhouse as the single greatest accomplishment of my career," said McAnuff, "And I expect that I will always feel that way."
LA JOLLA PLAYHOUSE has received more than 300 awards for theatre excellence, including the 1993 Tony® Award as America's Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in La Jolla, California, the Playhouse is nationally acclaimed for its innovative productions of classics, new plays and musicals. Led by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff, artistic director; Steven Libman, managing director; and Shirley Fishman, associate artistic director, the Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. More than 30 Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, garnering 23 Tony Awards, including Big River, The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dracula, the Musical, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays and the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, fostered as part of the Playhouse's Page To Stage New Play Development Program. In June 2006, La Jolla Playhouse's Broadway hit Jersey Boys was recently awarded four Tony Awards including Best Musical. Visit www.lajollaplayhouse.org.