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Virginia Repertory Theatre Announces Interim Co-Artistic Directors

Katrinah Carol Lewis and Steve Perigard have been named Interim Co-Artistic Directors of Virginia Repertory Theatre.

Katrinah Carol Lewis and Steve Perigard have been named Interim Co-Artistic Directors of Virginia Repertory Theatre by Managing Director Phil Whiteway, effective immediately. This six-month engagement is in sync with the longer term planning process that the Virginia Rep Board will begin at the end of this month.

Virginia Rep has been without an Artistic Director since last July. "As we begin the curatorial process of choosing the 2021-22 seasons for our four venues and our national educational tour, I needed an artistic partner," stated Whiteway. "As trusted longtime Virginia Rep artists, Katrinah and Steve will be invaluable in moving our nonprofit company forward."

Lewis is an award-winning actor, singer, director, playwright and historical interpreter with 16 years of professional experience in Central Virginia. She made her Virginia Rep debut in 2004. In 2011, she joined the museum theater department of Colonial Williamsburg as an actor interpreter. In 2016, she was named Artistic Director of the program.

She has been nominated for seven Artsie Awards by the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, winning Best Actress in 2016 for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill with TheatreLAB. Also at TheatreLAB, Lewis served as Associate Artistic Director for two years, and directed Topdog/Underdog, earning an Artsie nomination for Best Direction.

Lewis's acting credits at Virginia Rep include the world premiere of River Ditty, as well as leading roles in A Raisin in the Sun, The Mountaintop, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and The Color Purple. At Virginia Rep, she directed the acclaimed 2020 mainstage production of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, and served as Associate Director for Once.

Perigard is an acclaimed theatre artist, administrator and educator with 30 years of professional experience working and creating within the Richmond arts community. From 1997 to 2009, he served as Associate Artistic Director of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV, the two companies that merged in 2012 to form Virginia Repertory Theatre.

In 2013, after teaching and directing for SPARC, TheatreVCU and Randolph Macon College, Perigard joined the staff at Collegiate School as Director of Upper School Theatre.

Perigard has directed over 75 plays and musicals for Richmond area theaters including the Virginia Rep productions of Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Pillowman, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Clean House, Peter Pan, The Full Monty, Cyrano de Bergerac and James Joyce's The Dead.

According to Janet Starke, Executive Director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, this appointment is historic. "To my knowledge, Lewis is the first woman of color to be named to the top artistic leadership position of a major Virginia performing arts organization." The VCA defines a "major" organization as having an annual operating budget of $1.5 million or more, and have significant economic and artistic impact in its region and in the state. In fiscal 2020, Virginia Rep's operating budget was $5.8 million. "The Commission is pleased to see this exciting forward movement, for the potential benefit of citizens across the Commonwealth," added Starke.

"All of us on the board of directors are proud of the historic nature of this appointment," stated Dr. Monroe Harris, past chairman at Virginia Rep. "This feels natural to us. In 1954, Virginia Rep defied Jim Crow laws to perform before our state's first fully integrated audience since Reconstruction. In 1973, we became the first major theater to produce a mainstage play focusing on African American experience. In the early 90s, we became the first major arts organization in Virginia to elect an African American board chairman, and we've elected six more since, including me. We're very pleased to have the opportunity to benefit from Katrinah's leadership as we continue to weave our rich tapestry."

Lewis and Perigard will be continuing to work part time with Colonial Williamsburg and Collegiate School, respectively, during the coming six months.

"Virginia Rep focuses on artistic excellence," added Whiteway. "For decades, we've worked to be metro Richmond's flagship professional theater, Virginia's foremost arts-in-education theater, and our nation's leader in community health and wellness programming. We achieve our goals through great storytelling and shared experience. Katrinah and Steve are the perfect artists to lead us as we move forward."

Virginia Rep will be announcing a number of forums and opportunities to get to know the new leaders, including e-news publications, public forums and various community speaking engagements. The company will be making further announcements soon regarding programming for 2021.

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