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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Intiman Finds a Managing Director

posted by on August 20 at 17:30 PM

Intiman has been looking around to replace the steely, capable Laura Penn for months now. The search ended a few days ago, when Intiman found Brian Colburn, the 35-year-old managing director of Pasadena Playhouse for the last four years.

He seems like a good hire for a bunch of reasons:

One. Colburn is young, and all regional theaters want to do these days is youth themselves up.

Two. Pasadena Playhouse is a quality establishment, a lovely little Spanish mission-style building with a courtyard a nice fountain.


It lives in a smart community—Caltech people, NASA people, the Jet Propulsion Lab people—that also supports the Norton Simon Museum. The only play I’ve seen there, Orson’s Shadow back in February, was quality. Nothing revolutionary, but quality.

(The play dramatizes real-life rehearsals where Orson Welles directed Laurence Olivier in a production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, with New Yorker theater critic Kenneth Tynan working as a kind of dramaturge. It’s a fucking disaster.)

Three. The Playhouse is in good financial shape. It brought in $9 million in revenue in 2006—the most recent year for which tax forms are publicly available—and ended the year with a $2.7 million surplus. (Intiman, by contrast, brought in $6 million in 2007 and spent about as much.)

Four. The Playhouse also hosts a fringe company—the Furious Theater1—something Intiman, and every regional theater in America, should do. Big theaters lending their resources to nimbler, more adventurous organizations can only help them.

ACT is already leaning in that direction with Central Heating Lab, which presents fringe theater, dance, burlesque, comedy, and other stuff you wouldn’t normally expect to see in a regional theater. ACT wisely hired the Lab’s founder, Carlo Scandiuzzi, as managing director a few weeks ago. (You can read the Theater News column about that here.)

So that’s two promising managing directors in just two weeks—a bizarrely good streak for Seattle theater.

1Furious Theater, incidentally, produced the Los Angeles premiere of Back of the Throat, by local playwright Yussef El Guindi. That play had its world premiere at Theater Schmeater and went on good reception and reviews in NYC and LA.

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I like a lavish production of Private Lives or Hamlet as much as the next Thespian, but some young blood would certainly help out Seattle's main stages...

Posted by it'smarkmitchell | August 20, 2008 5:52 PM

I heard "Orson's Shadow" on KUOW, via the syndicated show "The Play's the Thing," last April, and - probably because it was a radio play, reminding me of this or that "Mercury Theater of the Air" thing I'd heard here and there - it fucking spellbound me.

THAT horrible URL links to a first-15 minutes sample of the play. Apparently the cast heard here was the originating cast and they won some LA awards for the piece. As I recall, the dude doing Welles *nailed* the voice.

I feel like I should clarify, too: the +play's+ not a disaster, it's... OK. Well written. Not a raging fount of innovation. Introspective and backwards looking.

What's a disaster is the actual, true, story the play dramatizes, and it's the momentum of the egos barreling at one another across the boards that holds one's attention.

Posted by mike | August 20, 2008 6:12 PM

oops, my memory fails on the cast and origination thing. "The Play's The Thing" site made some fooraw about the cast and awards such that I had the impression that it had opened in LA in the mid-oughts, clearly not so according to wikipedia.

Posted by mike | August 20, 2008 6:16 PM

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