RICHARD HAMBURGER STEPS DOWN

The Dallas Theater Center just announced that Richard Hamburger will be stepping down after the upcoming season. The wording of it – not to mention the timing – strikes me as odd. For example, Karen Stone at the Dallas Opera told us that she wanted to stay in Dallas until at least 2012 to help inaugurate the new Winspear Opera House. You would think that the same logic might apply to the Wyly, which will open at the same time in the fall of 2009.

The complete release follows:

Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director will step down in 2007

Dallas, TX (August 15, 2006) — Longtime Dallas Theater Center Artistic Director Richard Hamburger announced today that he will step down in the summer of 2007.

Hamburger said “The end of the 2006/2007 season will mark fifteen rewarding years in Dallas, and twenty years as an artistic director. I have loved working with the many gifted artists and staff members who give so much to the art of theater; I greatly appreciate the support and encouragement that I have received over the years from the Dallas Theater Center’s patrons, contributors, and Trustees; and I consider it a privilege to have served the Dallas community. After a decade and a half, I feel energized and excited to explore new possibilities, knowing that I leave the Theater Center in an excellent position to attract vital new talent.”

Hamburger has served as DTC artistic director since 1992 and has staged some of the theater’s most important and inspired productions. During his tenure, he has introduced Dallas to a broad range of new work by playwrights that include Octavio Solis, Charles Mee, Eric Overmyer and Tony Kushner. He also has renewed the Theater Center’s commitment to reinterpreting the classics for modern audiences with powerful productions such as Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire, Our Town, A Doll’s House and The Seagull.

Among Hamburger’s greatest artistic successes are his innovative productions of American musicals, beginning with the widely acclaimed South Pacific in 1999, followed by Guys and Dolls and My Fair Lady.

Hamburger’s notable achievements include the expansion of the DTC’s education and outreach programs, and the creation, with Melissa Cooper, of the Big D Festival of the Unexpected (1992-2000). This Festival brought writers such as Maria Irene Fornes, Naomi Iizuka, Chay Yew, and Suzan-Lori Parks to Dallas and inspired subsequent theater festivals in this area. Hamburger’s focus on new work continues with the DTC’s Fresh Ink/Forward Motion new play series. He is nationally known for nurturing and training younger theater artists, several of whom have gone on to run their own theaters, as well as for bringing internationally acclaimed designers to the Theater Center.

DTC Board Chair John Howell said “We greatly appreciate Richard’s extraordinary contributions to the Dallas Theater Center over the years. At the same time, we also respect Richard’s desire to explore new opportunities, such as the Salzburg Marionette Theater’s production of The Sound of Music, which he has been working on in Austria this summer. We will miss him, and certainly wish him well in his new endeavors.”

Hamburger’s long tenure at the Dallas Theater Center is unusual for artistic directors. He came to Dallas from Maine, where he had been artistic director of the Portland Stage Company for five years. He plans to remain in his post as DTC’s Artistic Director until next summer, when he will have served 15 years with DTC, and will direct two classic plays, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Taming of the Shrew, during DTC’s upcoming season.

In recognition of his long and renowned service to the Dallas Theater Center, Hamburger will be named its first Artistic Director Emeritus, and it is anticipated that he will continue to direct productions at the DTC from time to time in the future.

DTC officials plan to conduct a national search for their next artistic director. They believe that the Theater Center and Dallas provide a strong venue for attracting top candidates for the position.

Howell said that, with the theater’s upcoming move to the new Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, which is being built as part of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts and is scheduled to open in 2009, this is a unique opportunity for the Dallas Theater Center to explore new directions.

“The Wyly Theatre will be one of the finest theater facilities in the world when it is completed,” Howell said. “The innovations and great flexibility provided by the Wyly Theatre, as well as the Dallas Theater Center’s strong local support and outstanding national reputation, should be very attractive to the next artistic director.”

The Dallas Theater Center was established in the mid-1950s and has continued to flourish as one of the nation’s outstanding regional theaters. The DTC currently is headquartered in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kalita Humphreys Theater, located at 3636 Turtle Creek Boulevard near downtown Dallas.

During the almost 50 years that it has been producing plays, the Dallas Theater Center has had only four artistic directors. Paul Baker served in the post for 23 years, followed by Adrian Hall, Ken Bryant, and Richard Hamburger.

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