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Monday, August 25, 2008

Canary, Meet Coal Mine

posted by on August 25 at 18:24 PM

The Seattle Rep just dubbed Jerry Manning—an old man of the mountain in Seattle theater—as its acting artistic director. (How does the Puget Sound Business Journal always get arts-administration stories up so quickly?)

He’s directed some good shows around Seattle. (A few: John Lennon’s Gargoyle at Schmeater, Thom Pain at the Rep, the long-running Stones in His Pockets at the building formerly known as CHAC, the doomed production of Nocturne that ran for two seconds, and so on.)

The Rep is being cagey about whether Manning will slide from “acting artistic director” to “artistic director” once Esbjornson leaves. According to the swifties at PSB:

In his new position as acting artistic director, Manning will work side by side with Managing Director Benjamin Moore while the theater’s board evaluates its organizational model to determine the appropriate artistic and business-management structure.

The board will complete that process before beginning a search for a permanent artistic director.

Locals seems to be winning at the regional theaters lately—just what they’ve always wanted, right? Intiman hires Sheila Daniels (and, to be fair, some guy from Pasadena), the Rep hires Manning, ACT hires Carlo Scandiuzzi, and the shows running at Intiman and ACT? All local actors.

It’s what theater folks have been clamoring for for years—except for the niggling feeling that theaters are doing this out of compulsion, not conviction. Because they can’t afford fancy out-of-towners any more.

Now when they start producing local playwrights, then you’ll know they’re really in trouble. (That one’s for you, Paul Mullin. And you, Scot Augustson. And all y’all.)

Anyway: temporary congratulations to the Rep’s new temporary artistic director. (And apologies for my cynical reading of what is doubtlessly a well-deserved promotion.)

RSS icon Comments


Wow, I didn't see that coming. Whatever the motivation, I'll take it -- it's absolutely fantastic news!

Posted by Lola | August 25, 2008 6:54 PM

awesome. Congratulations, jerry!

Posted by nick | August 25, 2008 6:58 PM

Well, technically Jerry hasn't been "hired", since he's been at the Rep, like, forever, but still, I can't think of anyone in their current administration more deserving of taking over the helm there.

Let's hope the search committee decides to make it a permanent appointment - that would be welcome news indeed!

Posted by COMTE | August 25, 2008 10:11 PM

Just so long as assertions about the clamoring of theatre artists for local jobs in local houses is accepted for the blanket statement it is. Using local talent makes sense in many, many ways. But geography and a local street address do not equate some right for the same. 'So-and-so is just as good as' is a meaningless observation in the subjective world of the arts. Every director of a stage production wants to use the best people that are available with what the budget allows. Sometimes that's local--bully--sometimes it's not. Many theatre artists who have worked outside of their particular local area have had to contend with the dagger-like glares and snark of the locals in those other areas getting their noses out-of-joint. It's a series of very small steps from local support to boosterism to provincialism.

More than a little cynicism is called for here; Big House local Trustees haven't suddenly discovered an amazing wealth of talent living right under their noses--that's been here for decades--they're contending with their budgetary and personnel decisions. Mr. Manning and Mr. Abraham--mazal tov!--should keep one eye cocked over their shoulders.

Posted by Laurence Ballard | August 26, 2008 7:34 AM

Good job, local guys. Just don't do too well, or the Rep and the Intiman might soon have enough money to go back to New York for casting.

Posted by Greg | August 26, 2008 12:10 PM

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