Seattle Rep Sets June 2nd Memorial for Artistic Director Jerry Manning
A memorial service has been set to celebrate the life of Seattle Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Jerry Manning, who died at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle on Apr. 30 due to complications from surgery for a congenital heart defect. An all-around theatre practitioner, Jerry was a beloved leader, director, producer, mentor and friend. Well-regarded by his peers, he was known for his biting sense of humor, irascible spirit, and sharp mind. He was 58.
The memorial service will be held Monday, June 2, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Seattle Repertory Theatre. In lieu of flowers, the Manning family encourages donations to the Rep to help sustain the Theatre's many artistic projects.
Manning had led the theatre since 2009 and served on the artistic staff since 2000. He was an advocate for new work, emerging artists, and the Seattle community, and his tenure as Artistic Director was defined by his passion for new play development. During his four seasons at the helm, the Rep commissioned 13 new works and world premiered eight plays. Three more will make their stage debut in the 2014-2015 season, which will be dedicated to Manning's memory.
About Jerry: Jerry was born June 15, 1955 in New Brunswick, NJ to Edward and Margaret Manning. One of five children, he graduated from Immaculata High School in Summerville, NJ in 1973 and Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI in 1977. He also served in the Navy as a midshipman for two years in the mid-70s.
A life-long avid reader and political junkie, Jerry started his career in theatre at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and worked there for 11 seasons. He joined Arena first in the fundraising department, but his native intelligence and the sharpness of his Jesuit-educated mind, coupled with his wit and good taste, soon led him to other aspects of Arena's life. He started by reading scripts, then because of his deep appreciation for and keen awareness of good writing, he moved into the literary office there. This was the beginning of what became a life habit-being led by his natural curiosity and his restless mind to conquer new disciplines and bodies of knowledge. So it was on to casting, then, to production management, assistant directing, directing and finally, to what was probably what he was destined to do-artistic leadership.
From 1995-2000, Jerry served as an Artistic Associate for New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW). He followed the EXACT same pattern at NYTW. But by this time, his open heart, and his deep affection for artists of any stripe, he became expert at the most critical element of theatre-making-creating and maintaining relationships. He was both the Literary Associate and the Casting Director at NYTW between 1995 and 2000. He was instrumental in the creation and leadership of NYTW's artistic community, The Usual Suspects.
Jerry joined Seattle Rep in 2000 as Associate Artistic Director overseeing casting and artist relations; in 2008, he was named Producing Artistic Director, and in 2010 was named Artistic Director. His tenure as Artistic Director was defined by his advocacy of new work, emerging artists, and the Seattle community. During his four seasons at the helm, the Rep commissioned 13 new works (nine by Seattle writers) and world premiered eight plays. Many of those had a life outside Seattle, including An Iliad, How to Write a New Book for the Bible, Pullman Porter Blues, and A Great Wilderness. Three more new plays, including Robert Schenkkan's second play about LBJ, The Great Society, will make their stage debut next season.
Always a champion of new work, he directed six plays at Seattle Rep including fresh plays by Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife) and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (boom). Other directing credits include work at New Dramatists, New York Theatre Workshop, The Kennedy Center, The Studio Theatre, Source, Adirondack Theatre, Washington Stage Guild, and Signature Theatre.
Jerry also did extensive casting work in film and television including Ken Burn's The Civil War, Forrest Gump, The Pelican Brief and many others. He conducted workshops at graduate theatre departments (UW, University of Montana, Yale, to name a few) and had an ongoing relationship with the National Endowment for the Arts, where he served as a reader, site reporter and peer panelist.
A gifted storyteller, Jerry knew everyone in American theatre and usually had a least one not-fit-to-print anecdote about each and every one of them. He was also a fierce fighter and advocate for all artists and staff.
He is survived by his sister Lory of Arlington, VA; two brothers: Mark and his wife Kate of Menomonie, WI, and Timothy and his wife Bernadette of Leesburg, VA; and 10 nieces and nephews. He is pre-deceased by his parents and his brother Edward.
Seattle Repertory Theatre was founded in 1963. One of America's premier nonprofit resident theatres, Seattle Repertory Theatre has achieved international renown for its consistently high production and artistic standards, and was awarded the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. With an emphasis on entertaining plays of true dramatic and literary worth, Seattle Rep produces a season of plays along with educational programs, new play workshops and special presentations.