BREAKING NEWS: Rene Copeland Steps Down as Artistic Director of Nashville Repertory Theatre
After 15 years with the company, Rene Copeland, longtime artistic director for Nashville Repertory Theatre, is stepping down from her position with the organization, according to details included in a joint statement from the company's board of directors and Copeland, herself.
In the statement, the Board of Directors of the Nashville Repertory Theatre and Copeland announced that a change in its leadership team would soon be forthcoming. Copeland will be stepping down as the artistic leader of the organization as the company closes its 34th season.
"René is an extraordinary artist who has dedicated her career to creating theatre in Nashville," says Bonnie Dow, president of Nashville Rep's board. "Since joining the Rep in 2004, she has been at the helm of over 40 shows, including some of our most memorable productions."
In addition to serving as its artistic director, Copeland also directed the majority of Nashville Rep's productions over the last 15 years. Recent titles include A Raisin in the Sun, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Chicago and the company's record-breaking ten-year run of A Christmas Story.
Copeland's most recent endeavor was directing the premiere staged reading of Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl as part of the company's Ingram New Works Festival. Throughout her tenure at the Rep, Copeland was repeatedly recognized by media as one of Tennessee's top theatre artists, being named Best Stage Director by the Nashville Scene in 2007 and winning a First Night Award as Best Director in 2016. Copeland's final work for the Rep was to plan its upcoming 35th anniversary season, including the musical comedy Urinetown, the contemporary drama Pipeline, and the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire.
Copeland's departure comes as the company's board is setting a new direction for Nashville Repertory Theatre: "Nashville Rep is in its fourth decade of producing high quality, thought provoking theatre," Dow says. "We honor that history while also acknowledging that Nashville is a rapidly growing, rapidly changing city. We are committed to being a theatre fully engaged with our community and are excited about the changes ahead at Nashville Rep."
The theatre has already announced some of its planned expansions, including entry into arts education and youth programming as well as its return to TPAC's Polk Theater. Dow indicated that audiences will see changes in its mainstage programming as well.
The organization will launch a national search for its new artistic leader later this year. In the interim, managing director Drew Ogle will oversee programming. Ogle and Copeland are working closely together to ensure a smooth transition.
Ogle expressed his gratitude to Copeland: "René recruited me to Nashville and this incredible company. I and everyone in the Nashville Rep family of artists wish her the very best of success as she debuts her next act."