BWW Feature: The Santa Fe Playhouse Announces New Artistic Director: Vaughn Irving to Pass the Baton to Robyn Rikoon
The Santa Fe Playhouse has been a cornerstone of Santa Fe's theater community for almost 100 years. In that time, there have been many Artistic Directors, each charged with moving this venerable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization forward. The baton of leadership is about to be passed once again.
Robyn Rikoon will be the Santa Fe Playhouse's new Artistic Director, taking over for Vaughn Irving, current Artistic Director. Ms. Rikoon will start on October 1 and work in collaboration with Mr. Irving until the end of the year. She assumes full responsibility for the position on January 1, 2020.
Ms. Rikoon has been involved in the creation and production of theater and dance for over 20 years. Born and raised in New Mexico, she left Santa Fe at the age of 14 in order to further her education in and around the theater. After graduating with a BFA in Drama from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she utilized New York City as her base and toured the United States working on numerous professional films, theater productions, and television series. During this time, she also launched an artistcollective which produced site-specific work in Brooklyn, NY. Upon her return to Santa Fe in 2016, Ms. Rikoon had her directorial debutwith the Santa Fe Playhouse's production of 1984. In 2017, shewas awarded The Kenan Fellowship in Directing at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, which allowed her to work with directors and theaters throughout the Northeast. In Santa Fe, Ms. Rikoon has appeared on stage in The 39 Steps (Annabella, Margaret, Pamela), The Glass Menagerie(Laura), and 4000 Miles (Bec). Currently, Ms. Rikoon is directingThe Happiest Song Plays Last, the third play in Quiara AlegríaHudes' The Elliot Trilogy, which runs October 10-27 at The Santa Fe Playhouse.
"I'm thrilled to be a part of launching the next 100 years of the Santa Fe Playhouse, a theater steeped in tradition and legacy which has been at the forefront of the performing arts in Northern New Mexico," says Ms. Rikoon, "Returning home to serve this community, I look forward to taking responsibility for day-to-day operations, artistic programming, and personal mentorship at The Playhouse. My deep appreciation goes out to Vaughn Irving who, in the past four years, has breathed new life into The Playhouse by engaging patrons, artists, and a wide audience with his creative and collaborative efforts. I'm excited about choosing stories and creators that challenge, captivate, and inspire, and my goals include developing new opportunities for local artists and audiences by facilitating and fostering relationships with local and national art institutions. It is with full and passionate hearts that our staff plans to bolster the level of community participation, artistry, education, and outreach programs at the Santa Fe Playhouse."
Vaughn Irving has been the Santa Fe Playhouse's Artistic Director since September, 2015 and, having also grown up in Santa Fe, Mr. Irving had insights into the unique challenges and opportunities of the Santa Fe arts scene. Under his leadership, The Playhouse hasproduced 35 full plays, 20 staged readings, 22 special events and has seen incredible growth in its audience base, donor base, and regional visibility, with 2018 being record-breaking year for The Playhouse, in terms of number of tickets sold, number of sold-out shows, and number of people onstage and behind-the-scenes.During his time at The Playhouse, Mr. Irving directed It's a Wonderful Life, The Last Five Years, Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Seasoned Greetings, Fun Home, and co-directed four renditions of The Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama with Andy Primm. He also appeared on stage at The Playhouse in Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol (Marley), 1984 (Winston), Flight Plan (Dr. Fraued), and The Importance of Being Earnest (Algernon).
Mr. Irving provided this perspective on the impending transition, "It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving The Playhouse on January 1st, 2020, but it is with great joy that I welcome the incredible Robyn Rikoon to the position of Artistic Director. I have been at the helm of the Santa Fe Playhouse for the last 4 years and I have loved my time here, working with the amazing talent of Santa Fe on and off the stage. I have the utmost confidence that Robyn will take The Playhouse to a whole new level of artistry, entertainment, and community engagement. I will be heading off to explore new models of performing arts with the ultimate goal of starting a new company dedicated to the creation of new works, and new forms of live performance. While I am stepping away from the role of Artistic Director, I remain passionate about the Santa Fe Playhouse and the importance of this timeless orginization to the Santa Fe community."
In summary, Kent Kirkpatrick, President of the Santa Fe Playhouse's Board of Directors, says, "We are extremely proud of this theater's history and what it has contributed to Santa Fe. Under Vaughn Irving's leadership, for which we are very grateful, the Santa Fe Playhouse has experienced extraordinary growth and excitement. As Vaughn hands over the role of Artistic Director to Robyn Rikoon, our excitement and optimism only grows. We are certain that the combination of Robyn's commitment to excellence in the creation and presentation of powerful theater and her belief in The Playhouse as a vital and positive component of our community will build on his successes. She has the skills and passion to lead this important Santa Fe institution into its second century."