Theater New Executive Director at ACT
posted by August 1 at 16:11 PMon
In the venerable tradition of releasing potentially controversial news on Friday afternoons—in the eternal hope that journalists will already be too drunk to report it—ACT Theatre has announced that its old managing director, Kevin Hughes, is stepping down after nine months.
Taking his place (with the title “executive director”): Carlo Scandiuzzi, an excellent choice.
Mr. Scandiuzzi—a bright, energetic Swiss-Italian who grew up in Geneva—has been deeply involved in Seattle’s arts scene since the early days at the Empty Space, when he was an actor. (His first production was The Return of Pinocchio, playing alongside ACT’s current artistic director, Kurt Beattie.)
He was a concert promoter in the 1970s (bringing Devo, Nina Hagen, Iggy Pop, The Ramones, John Cale, and other to town). In the 1980s, he collaborated with local performance artists like Jesse Bernstein.
Scandiuzzi went on to produce films, founded IndieFlix and become a philanthropist, throwing money at theater, dance, and the Central Library downtown, which named a room after him.
His recent masterstroke was starting ACT’s Central Heating Lab, profiled here:
People have been calling for the death of regional theater since it was born. The regionals are moribund for dozens of reasons: exhausted economies, overhead and union costs that keep tickets prices high, an old and dying subscriber base, their inability to adapt to a younger audience (viz., its preference for buying single tickets instead of subscriptions), and, of course, their failure to not bore the shit out of people.
But ACT, one of the feebler regionals (it nearly died of debt five years ago), is showing signs of renewed vigor with something called the Central Heating Lab, led by Carlo Scandiuzzi…
The Heating Lab promises something vital, something regional theaters have conspicuously lacked—a nimble, populist wing that can absorb the best local theater, dance, and literature, and put it onstage. Its genius has been to yank off the “events” blinders and start subtly programming a kind of counterseason for a whole other audience: the younger kind that likes to buy single tickets and doesn’t think Alan Ayckbourn comedies about middle-aged couples having affairs are all that funny.
Coming in the next few months under the Lab’s rubric: comedy by Black Daisy, Dart-Mondo, and Andy Haynes; music by “Awesome”; dance by Julie Tobiason (of Pacific Northwest Ballet); and The Adding Machine, the first production by New Century Theatre Company (the fledgling collective started by actor Paul Morgan Stetler, playwright Stephanie Timm, Stranger Genius Amy Thone, et al.).
When asked what the hell was wrong with the old managing director, ACT board president Brad Fowler was circumspect: “We were pleased with Kevin, he addressed the things we needed to focus on as we moved forward,” and so on.
Fowler parried for several minutes: “But why did he step down?”
“He thought he could serve better as a consultant.”
“So what was he doing that wasn’t so great?”
“We were pleased with his performance.”
A master of elision.
Anyway, congratulations Carlo. And congratulations ACT.