Park Square Announces New Artistic Director
Park Square Theatre announces the hire of its new Artistic Director - the third in the organization's history - after a five-month national search that attracted 113 applications from across the country (22 from Minnesota) and two from the United Kingdom.
Succession Committee Co-Chairs, Jewelie Grape and Nancy Feldman said, "We are simply thrilled to announce, after a unanimous vote from both the committee and the full board, that Park Square Theatre's new John W. Harris Family Artistic Director is Flordelino Lagundino. His warm and generous spirit, commitment to artistic excellence, education and full inclusion make him the perfect choice to lead the next era of Park Square's community impact."
Richard Cook - who had his first directing/designing job with Park Square in 1975 and has been the artistic leader since 1980 - is thrilled with his successor. "Flordelino is both a theatre-maker and a company-builder, which builds on our history," Cook said. "As a leader, he is ambitious for his fellow artists and professionals. Empathetic by nature, he listens intently and pulls people together to make things happen. He's assisted such directors as Ping Chong and Lisa Peterson, with Amanda Dehnert, Davis McCallum and Kenny Leon on works ranging from STICKFLY to RICHARD II. He loves Shakespeare as well as the many working writers he's performed and supported. I believe Flordelino will be able to honor all that's best about Park Square while leading us to a new place: as a vigorously inclusive, leading-edge theatre-maker, deeply embedded in the Twin Cities - with a voice bigger than our size that can and deserves to be heard nationally. How promising and exciting!"
For his part, Flordelino, who starts work on August 1, 2018, says, "My vision for Park Square Theatre is to have impact with bold, theatrical events which surprise and transform our audiences. Together, we will build a theatre that represents us all; the story of inclusion will permeate every aspect of our organization - from the choice of plays (classical to contemporary), to the way we market our shows and sell our tickets, to faces that we see in our audience and how we interact with the community."
"We will build this theatre with love," says Flordelino. "Audiences will see it in the details and care we put into our productions. Students will feel it in how we welcome them into our theatre. The board will know it as they invite new friends to the hottest show in town. People who have been othered will see it when actors who look like them share their stories."
Flordelino will have strategic overlap with Richard Cook, who retires on September 1 after 43 years with the company. An exhibition to celebrate the history and contributions of Park Square Theatre will be held at Landmark Center during the month of September 2018. It will open officially on Thursday, September 6 with an evening reception in honor of Richard Cook. The community will be invited to officially welcome Flordelino Lagundino at a reception in the exhibition on Wednesday, September 26.
FIRST "NAMED" ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Thanks to a new major contribution to Park Square Theatre, the new Artistic Director's official title will be "The John W. Harris Family Artistic Director." "It is so exciting to have true community ownership of the new artistic director with John's major gift," said Michael-jon Pease, Park Square's executive director. "Obviously, we're taking a cue from our orchestra and university colleagues who have long traditions of named chairs. John's gift is a major investment in this important transition from Richard's legacy to a new generation. This named gift takes our 'theatre for you (yes you)' tagline to a whole new level!"
ABOUT Flordelino Lagundino
Flordelino Lagundino is a NYC-based director, actor, and producer and currently the SDC Foundation Sir John Gielgud Classical Directing Fellow working at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. He worked in Minneapolis last year at The Guthrie, where he assistant directed BLITHE SPIRIT in 2017 and at Mixed Blood Theatre, where his performance in VIETGONE won an Ivey Award as part of "Best Ensemble."
Lagundino is the artistic director of Generator Theater Company based in Juneau, Alaska and has served as the AD for Leviathan Lab in New York City, a creative studio whose mission is the advancement of Asian and Asian American (A/AA) performing artists and their work. He has also served as associate producer at La Jolla Playhouse, and was the founding producer of Romp of Otters (the graduate theater company at Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company).
In addition to being a recent Drama League New York Directing Fellow, Lagundino has been the recipient of directing fellowships at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, and The Kennedy Center. He has taught at Brown University, The University of Texas at Austin, The New School, and University of Alaska-Southeast.
Directing credits include: Sweeney Todd, Animals Out of Paper, Doubt, Yellowman, and Cedar House (Perseverance Theatre); Flipzoids, True West, The Reincarnation of Stories, title of show - co-director, and Shakespeare's R&J (Generator Theater); Sweeney Todd (Juneau Symphony); and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Much Ado About Nothing, Stone Cold Dead Serious, and In the Blood (Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company).
He has also directed with International Theatre and Literacy Project at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, and has developed new work with Syracuse Stage, New Dramatists, The Lark, Pan Asian Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Arena Stage, Generator Theater, Leviathan Lab, and Brown University.
In addition to Mixed Blood Theatre, acting credits include The Old Globe, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Perseverance Theatre, Pan Asian Rep, African Continuum Theatre Company, The Folger Theatre, ZACH Theatre, Young Playwrights' Theater, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
He is a graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company MFA directing program, and of The University of Texas at Austin where he received an MFA in acting.
ABOUT THE SEARCH
Park Square retained Robin Gillette of Arts Progress LLC to manage the search. In fall 2017, Park Square Theatre's succession committee launched a series of constituent interviews, including artists (directors, designers and actors), staff, funders and local artistic leaders. The goal was to hear from a variety of perspectives about the challenges and opportunities currently facing the theatre as well as seeking insight on the skills and qualities necessary and/or desirable for its next artistic leader.
"Before and during the process, input was sought from multiple stakeholders," confirmed Robin Gillette. "At every stage of the process, the pool of candidates has been diverse, in terms of gender, age, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation and geography (local vs national)." Board President Paul Mattessich confirmed that diversity was crucial to the committee, to avoid any pre-conceived notion of what Park Square's next AD "should" be. "I've been involved in so many searches over my career," said Mattessich, who is Executive Director of Wilder Research. "I've never seen a candidate pool that started - and remained - so diverse in every way. It just felt so natural. I really feel we achieved our goal to select the candidate best suited to work in tandem with Michael-jon Pease [Park Square's Executive Director], to lead Park Square - its staff, board and artists - into the next era."