Ian Belknap Named Artistic Director of the Acting Company
Margot Harley, co-founder and Producer of The Acting Company has announced the appointment of Ian Belknap to the position of Artistic Director. "We're a Company of young actors – founded forty years ago with the young Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, David Schramm and David Ogden Stiers right out of Juilliard – and it is appropriate that we begin our next 40 years with a vibrant young talent as our artistic leader," said Ms. Harley, who moves from Producing Artistic Director to Producer. John Houseman, Alan Schneider, Jack O'Brien, Michael Kahn, Gerry Gutierrez, Zelda Fichandler, Ms. Harley and now Mr. Belknap complete the list of impressive talents to serve as Artistic Director of The Acting Company founded in 1972 and oft-considered the leading nationally touring repertory theater in the country.
"I could not be more proud of our actors and history and look forward to the exciting new works I am confident Ian Belknap will bring to our stages and the American public," Ms. Harley said in her announcement. "I share Margot's belief that the classical repertory system is the best way to develop actors," Mr. Belknap responded, "and look forward to our continued partnership, increasing the company's impact and extending her legacy. It is a privilege to work with her and I am humbled by her trust in my ability to carry The Acting Company forward."
Ian Belknap has served as the Associate Artistic Director of The Acting Company since 2009, during which time he directed The Comedy of Errors that premiered at the Guthrie Theater before a two-year national tour as well as off-Broadway's Damascus and several staged readings in New York. Mr. Belknap joined the Company as Staff Repertory Director for the 2008-2009 Season. His upcoming production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men will tour with As You Like It (directed by Dan Rothenberg of Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre) during The Acting Company's 40th Anniversary Season (2012-13). Mr. Belknap has worked closely with Kevin Kline on The Lover and the Poet, starring Mr. Kline and Meryl Streep. He also assisted TONY-winning director Doug Hughes (Doubt) on the Company's Alumni Production of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, selected by TIME Magazine as the fourth best production of 2009.
Mr. Belknap said, "In looking beyond Of Mice and Men and As You Like it, I am very excited by our 2013-14 Season when we will present Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Tom Stoppard personally granted us the rights for his seminal play. I will be directing our first production of Hamlet and am particularly interested in touring these companion plays, which create a perfect repertory for actors and a comprehensive conversation about what it means to be alive for audiences."
Mr. Belknap also oversees The Acting Company's education department and has forged new relationships with Columbia University's Teachers College and Lincoln Center Theater. The partnership with Teachers College gave rise to a 40-week Shakespeare program for kindergarteners at The Community School, a public school in Harlem. Lincoln Center Theater presented The Acting Company's production of Julius Caesar for students in May and will present the Company again in 2013 in the new Claire Tow Theater.
Mr. Belknap apprenticed under several notable directors including Doug Hughes, Mark Lamos and Davis McCallum. He serves as a site visitor for The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's Philadelphia Theater Initiative and has worked at New York's Primary Stages, Baltimore's CENTERSTAGE and The Kennedy Center. A recipient of the John Glover Scholarship, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Towson University.
In the past 40 years, The Acting Company has produced and performed 137 classic and new plays for audiences totaling 3.5 million in 48 states and 10 foreign countries. Recipient of a TONY for Excellence in Theater as well as Obie, Audelco, Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards, the Company, has commissioned several new works including Love's Fire (Shakespeare Sonnets adapted by Eric Bogosian, William Finn, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange and Wendy Wasserstein), Lynn Nottage's Mud River Stone, Orchards (Chekhov short stories adapted by Maria Irene Fornes, Spalding Gray, John Guare, David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Weller and Samm-Art Williams), Studs Terkel's American Dreams Lost and Found,Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson and Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
In addition to Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, David Schramm and David Ogden Stiers, Rainn Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Frances Conroy, Harriet Harris, Hamish Linklater, Jesse L. Martin and 300 working professionals in theater, TV and film began their careers on tour with The Acting Company.