October 21, 2015
To create the most dynamic performance spaces for live theatre, music, and dance, we know that our staff—from our theatre designers to our accounting manager—needs to be fully engaged with what’s happening in the arts today. Although we spend hundreds of hours each week designing these spaces—meeting with users, planning and sketching, looking at drawings, reviewing construction progress, and testing equipment, we still need to connect with the art that inhabits these spaces and not just the buildings we design. Theatre Projects doesn’t just create extraordinary spaces because of our design philosophy, we do it by understanding what’s happening in the arts and translating that into our work every single day. That has been our approach for almost 60 years, and it continues today.
To stay connected with the arts, Theatre Projects has launched Guest Speaker Series and an Artist-in-Residence Program. One goal of these initiatives is to engage with the real visionaries in the arts today. "We’re building relationships and sharing ideas with some of the most exciting people in the industry. It’s a two-way exchange where both sides bring fresh ideas and inspiration to the other’s work. The Artist-in-Residence Program is a key element in maintaining fresh insight, perspective, and guidance to our already accomplished staff and leadership," says Chad Morrison, general manager for Theatre Projects’ US operations.
We’re excited to announce that our first Artist-in-Residence is Howard Shalwitz, artistic director of Washington, DC’s award-winning Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Last month, he joined us for a day to kick off his year-long residency.
Howard is one of the most significant voices in American regional theatre today. He’s been the leading visionary behind Woolly Mammoth for 35 seasons, leading the group’s adventurous play selection, guiding the development of dozens of new works, and building a renowned artistic company. Under his leadership, Woolly has grown from a modest "alternative" theatre into one of the most influential creators of new theatre in America.
Howard began his tenure with Theatre Projects by engaging in an enlightening back and forth conversation with our team about the current state of theatre, covering everything from changing audience demographics to new strategies for community engagement to the shifting direction of scenic design, and the foresight needed to plan effective theatres.
As the program continues, it will invite other artistic, production, and operational professionals for year-long positions working in tandem with our team, providing insight and inspiration. "With first-hand access to some of the leading creative forces in the industry, we’re doing something that no one else is doing," Chad said. "We don’t claim to know every answer to every question, but we certainly have expert resources at our fingertips to find the right solutions for our clients and their theatres."
By engaging artists like Howard, Theatre Projects aims to keep an eye toward the future—to better anticipate and understand clients’ needs, and ultimately, to continue to create the most dynamic and efficient performance spaces in the world.
Howard has been widely recognized for his contributions to theatre. In 2014, he received the 2014 Margo Jones Award—a lifetime achievement award for his commitment to new American plays—and in 2012, he was a Distinguished Finalist for the Zelda Fichandler Award for Outstanding Regional Director. He received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director for Clybourne Park in 2011 and was nominated for the same award in 2014 for Stupid F*&%ing Bird. In addition to nearly 40 plays at Woolly Mammoth, Howard has also directed for other leading American companies including New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Arena Stage, and Milwaukee Rep.
In 2000, Theatre Projects began work with Howard and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company on a new facility to support their vision for their future. The Woolly Mammoth Theatre—a 32,000-square-foot facility with a 265-seat flexible courtyard theatre—opened in 2005 to rave reviews and received major architectural awards. Calling Theatre Projects, "the best value in the industry," Howard said, "Because of Theatre Projects’ planning, we’ve been able to use our theatre in every way we originally imagined, but also in ways we didn’t know we would ever need. The new facility has expanded Woolly’s ambition and impact, and allowed our artistry to grow in boundless new directions. Now, 10 years later, I’m honored to join Theatre Projects as their first Artist in Residence. I hope that my experience as a former client and an artistic leader can add value to the great work they are doing in creating distinctive new performance venues across the US and around the world."