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Des McAnuff Accepts Position at Canada's Stratford Fest

Ralph Bryan, President of the Board of Trustees of La Jolla Playhouse, today announced that Artistic Director Des McAnuff has accepted a position as one of three Artistic Directors at Canada's prestigious Stratford Festival, effective 2008.

In a press conference held today in Canada, Antoni Cimolino, General Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada unveiled the next stage of the Festival's new vision for artistic leadership. Along with the appointment of McAnuff, the Festival named two other members of their three-person team of Artistic Directors: Marti Maraden and Don Shipley. Cimolino will lead the team of Artistic Directors.

As announced on June 21, McAnuff 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.

As previously announced, 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.

President of the Board of Trustees Ralph Bryan commented, "We are proud of Des and happy that he's able to expand his scope of work while still maintaining a relationship with La Jolla Playhouse. Des has helped make the Playhouse a place that offers artists a blank canvas to create new work and we look forward to finding the next person who can expand on this opportunity."

Playhouse Managing Director Steven B. Libman added, "Des' new position creates the opportunity for us to establish a partnership with one of North America's leading theatres. Both the leadership at the Playhouse and at the Festival have a strong desire to work together on artistic projects. And of course, I am very happy for Des, and especially gratified that he will have an ongoing relationship with La Jolla Playhouse."

"Des has enjoyed enormous success at La Jolla," said Stratford Festival General Director Antoni Cimolino. "Over the past several months, we've started to build some connections to the Playhouse. I'm impressed with the energy of this organization and see many synergies with the Stratford Festival. I hope that we might collaborate on projects in the future."

McAnuff last worked in Stratford in 1983, when he directed an inspired production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. "Stratford Festival of Canada was in my life even before La Jolla Playhouse," remarked McAnuff, "and in fact, the Festival first approached me about playing a leadership role even before I met with the search committee for the Playhouse in 1982. On a couple of occasions since that time, the representatives of Stratford have approached me again about getting involved. I'm thrilled to finally accept a senior position with this prestigious company, which is surely one of the leading classical theatres in the world."

"Des is superbly qualified to help me realize the vision for the Festival," said Antoni Cimolino, General Director of Stratford Festival. "We want to rededicate ourselves to Shakespeare and the classics, open up to diverse influences by reaching out to theatre communities across the country — and indeed the world — and further showcase the Festival's vast pool of talent."

"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. But while I greatly enjoy directing new plays and musicals," McAnuff continued, "my first loves are the plays of William Shakespeare. Stratford gives me the much desired opportunity to explore the classic theatrical repertoire while continuing to do new work. The fact that Stratford has created a model in which I could also continue my outside projects had a great deal of appeal. Sharing the Artistic Director position will give me the opportunity to carry on the work I've been developing the past few seasons in La Jolla and also allow me to continue a relationship with the Playhouse."

"The Festival will benefit immensely from the wide ranging experience that Marti, Des and Don bring to us," said Cimolino in welcoming the new Artistic Directors to Stratford. "They have all spent time here in Stratford and they know the repertory system. Together with the diverse influences that have shaped them, they make the perfect artistic leaders to help our actors and artists push beyond their creative boundaries."

"Growing up in Southern Ontario," said McAnuff, "Stratford was only a car ride away. I consider it a great privilege to return to the stages where my love for theatre was born."

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