MadLab Theatre Welcomes New Artistic Director Jim Azelvandre

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MadLab Theatre has announced their new artistic director will be Jim Azelvandre, effective January 1, 2016. Azelvandre, MadLab's sixth artistic director, will replace current Artistic Director Andy Batt who has decided to move on to other artistic endeavors.

Azelvandre has been a frequent contributor to MadLab since his first show in 2004. Considered one of the best actors in Columbus, he has contributed as a director, producing director, and playwright as well. MadLab produced 3 of his short plays as part of their annual shorts festival, Theatre Roulette, as well as 2 of his full length plays, Objet d'Art in 2006 and The Air Loom in 2013.

MadLab Board Chair Jenn Barlup: "Jim has been a huge part of our success during his time at MadLab. He has the respect and admiration of not only the folks at MadLab, but also throughout the Columbus theatre scene. He is one of our best actors, certainly, but it is the vision as a director and a playwright that will make him MadLab's next great artistic director. When we recrafted our vision statement a few years ago, Jim pushed us to produce bolder, braver, more robust theatre and is perfect to help us continue that quest.

Of course, we're terribly sad to see Andy Batt go. He has been a driving force in the growth of MadLab working in many roles, including Managing Director, Artistic Director, and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. He was the driving force in our ownership of our downtown venue. And oversaw the massive renovations to turn a dilapidated garage into a fully functioning theatre space. Andy has been involved in almost every aspect of MadLab during his time here and it is an understatement to say that a lot of people have to try to fill his big shoes. Fortunately, he notified us early enough that we could plan for it and he has been a huge help in advising us on moving forward without him."

Jim Azelvandre in his own words: Jim Azelvandre is a 1990 graduate of Bowling Green State University and brings with him 33 years of experience as an Actor, Director and Playwright. He remembers an astounding 25 of those years. He believes that live, original Theatre and performance is as important to the soul as Joy, and that laughter can change the world. In his spare time, he enjoys tilting at windmills.

In addition, 2 other announcements were made:

Chad Hewitt will be assuming a new position as Assistant Artistic Director. The position is designed to not only provide assistance to the Artistic Director, but also give valuable experience to a newer member of the company. Hewitt made his first appearance in the 2013 Theatre Roulette and has been featured in several shows per season since and has been involved in many other aspects of production including directing.

As another aspect of picking up Mr. Batt's slack, Nikki Smith and Jennifer Barlup will be taking on the role of Managing Director together covering a wide range of duties. Barlup is the current Board Chair at MadLab, a role she has been in for over ten years as well as a frequent onstage contributor. Nikki Smith has served in a number of roles at MadLab since 2002. Acting, directing, producing for the 3in30 late night series as well as helping maintain the company's membership services.

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