Les Waters New Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville

by Jacob Coakley

Les Waters will assume full-time duties as artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville in March, 2012.
Les Waters will assume full-time duties as artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville in March, 2012.
Actors Theatre of Louisville has named Les Waters as their new artistic director. Waters has spent the past eight years as the associate artistic director at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where he directed such works as the Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), which premiered at Berkeley before continuing to Broadway, as well as the world premieres of Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West and Fêtes de la Nuit. Waters is known for his strong collaborations with playwrights, and championing the works of new playwrights—two skills which will serve him well at Actors Theatre, a theatre which is also dedicated to developing new work, as epitomized in its Humana Festival. Waters will transition to his new position in January, assuming full-time duties in late March, after directing Red at Berkeley Rep.

ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE ANNOUNCES LES WATERS AS NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Louisville, KY– Todd Lowe, Chair of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s search committee, today announced on behalf of the Board of Directors of Actors Theatre of Louisville that Obie Award-winning Director, Les Waters has been named Actors Theatre’s new Artistic Director. Waters, who for the past eight years has been the Associate Artistic Director at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California will begin transition to his new post effective January 9, 2012 and assume full-time duties at Actors Theatre in late March.

The extensive national search was only the third search of its kind in almost 50 year of history at Actors Theatre. Waters joins a prestigious lineage of leaders who have led Actors Theatre of Louisville from its humble beginnings to a nationally recognized regional theatre and a major force in American playwriting.

Waters has more than 30 years of experience in theatre and has forged a formidable career as a director. A strong proponent of contemporary work and adaptations of classic material, Waters has an impressive track record of collaborating with some of theatre’s most prominent playwrights, including Caryl Churchill, Charles Mee and Sarah Ruhl, and he has been a champion of important new voices such as Will Eno, Jordan Harrison and Anne Washburn.

“Following an extensive national search and an impressive slate of candidates, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of Les Waters to Artistic Director,”said Actors Theatre Search Committee Chairman Todd Lowe. “Les Waters brings with him an outstanding artistic track record and a devotion to both contemporary work and the re-envisioning of classic texts. He has demonstrated a real passion for the commissioning and production of work by important new voices and shares Actors Theatre’s commitment to supporting the innovation and imagination of the American playwright. I believe he will be the perfect partner with Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein to lead Actors Theatre into its next phase of organizational and artistic excellence.

Ted Nixon, President of Actors Theatre Board, said, "Les Waters will inherit almost half a century of incredible artistic accomplishments and institutional growth at Actors Theatre.His appointment will ensure that Actors Theatre continues to fulfill its commitment to support theatre artists, promote new work and present quality artistic experiences for the citizens of Kentucky and beyond.”

“Les Waters will be an incredible asset to both Actors Theatre and this community,” said Jennifer Bielstein, Managing Director, Actors Theatre of Louisville. “In addition to an impressive list of artistic accomplishments, he is a proven mentor and advisor to emerging theatre artists, playwrights and directors. Actors Theatre is an artistic home to a wide array of artists and as an institution values and supports the careers of many young theatre professionals through our prestigious Apprentice/Intern Company. I believe he will bring a new passion and energy to our season programming and is the perfect person to champion Actors Theatre within the region and nationally. Les will bring exceptional qualities to this leadership role and I very much look forward to partnering with him as Actors Theatre continues to make a significant impact on American theatre in years to come.”

Les Waters said, “It is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville, an organization I’ve long admired. I’ve had the opportunity to direct twice at Actors Theatre, and I was deeply impressed with the theatre, its staff and the community at large. I am excited to begin working with the board of trustees, staff, volunteer core and Actors Theatre’s extended family of theatre artists. I am committed to making theatre here that is passionate and intelligent, funny and heartfelt and to leading Actors Theatre to new artistic endeavors. I look forward to being a part of this community, to making a new home in Louisville, and to continuing Actors Theatre’s incredible legacy of local and national acclaim.”

Throughout Waters’ eight year tenure at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, his shows garnered great critical acclaim, routinely ranking among the year’s best by critics in The New Yorker, New York Times, Time Out New York, Time Magazine, and USA Today. In 2009, he made his Broadway debut with renowned playwright Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), which premiered at Berkeley. His other productions at Berkeley Repertory Theater include the world premieres of Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, Fêtes de la Nuit, Finn in the Underworld, Girlfriend, and To the Lighthouse; the American premiere of TRAGEDY: a tragedy; the West Coast premieres of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice and Three Sisters; and extended runs of The Glass Menagerie, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Pillowman, and Yellowman. Waters has numerous credits in New York, his native England, and at theatres across America. He led the MFA directing program at UC San Diego where he continues to teach. Waters is an associate artist of The Civilians.

The extensive search process was led by a committee of Actors Theatre of Louisville board members comprised of Chair Todd Lowe, Beth Davis, Laura Douglas, Phil Eschels, Ted Nixon, Bruce Merrick, Marsha Roth, Ted Rosky and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein.

They were assisted by Greg Kandel, Partner in Management Consultants for the Arts, one of the premier executive search firms in the theatre field.

Waters replaces Marc Masterson who stepped down in May 2011 after eleven years to take the position of Artistic Director at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, California.

For more info about the Actors Theatre of Louisville, please visit www.actorstheatre.org

LES WATERS LEAVES BERKELEY REP TO LEAD ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE

Obie Award-winner becomes new artistic director of nationally renowned theatre

NOVEMBER 29, 2011 – This morning it was announced that, after an extensive national search, Obie Award-winner Les Waters has been chosen to lead the renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville. For the past eight years, Waters has served as associate artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre and helped lead that organization to national prominence. He will now become artistic director of Actors Theatre, beginning the transition in January and assuming full-time duties after directing Berkeley Rep’s production of Red in March.

“For a director such as myself, whose career has focused on fostering new work, it has been a delight to be part of the team at Berkeley Rep,” Waters remarked. “It is an extraordinary theatre staffed by extraordinary people dedicated to the highest quality of craftsmanship. After eight years together, it is difficult to leave Berkeley – yet it is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville, an organization I’ve long admired. I’ve had the opportunity to direct twice at Actors Theatre, and I was deeply impressed with the theatre, its staff, and the community at large. I am committed to making theatre there that is passionate and intelligent, funny and heartfelt, and look forward to leading Actors Theatre to new artistic endeavors.”

“We’ve loved working with Les for the past eight years,” said Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “He had a remarkable run at Berkeley Rep, and his signature style as a director and the full force of his humanity will be sorely missed. We wish him nothing but the best as his adventure continues, and we look forward to forging a strong relationship with Actors Theatre of Louisville.”

“Les will bring exceptional qualities to this leadership role,” said Jennifer Bielstein, managing director of Actors Theatre. “He has an impressive list of artistic accomplishments and is a proven mentor and advisor to emerging theatre artists, playwrights, and directors. He also shares Actors Theatre’s passion for new work and its commitment to the innovation and imagination of the American playwright. I believe he will bring a new passion and energy to our season programming and is the perfect person to champion Actors Theatre within the region and nationally. I very much look forward to partnering with him as Actors Theatre continues to make a significant impact on American theatre in years to come.”

Throughout Waters’ tenure at Berkeley Rep, his shows garnered great acclaim, routinely ranking among the year’s best in publications such as The New Yorker, New York Times, Time Out New York, Time Magazine, and USA Today. He has a history of collaborating with prominent playwrights like Caryl Churchill, Charles Mee, and Wallace Shawn, and champions important new voices such as Will Eno, Jordan Harrison, Sarah Ruhl, and Anne Washburn. In 2009, he made his Broadway debut with Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), which began in Berkeley. His other productions at Berkeley Rep include the world premieres of Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, Fêtes de la Nuit, Finn in the Underworld, Girlfriend, and To the Lighthouse; the American premiere of TRAGEDY: a tragedy; the West Coast premieres of Ruhl’s Eurydice and Three Sisters; and extended runs of The Glass Menagerie, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Pillowman, and Yellowman. Waters has numerous credits in New York, his native England, and at theatres across America. He led the MFA directing program at UC San Diego, where he continues to teach, and is an associate artist of The Civilians.

Waters joins a prestigious lineage of leaders who have led Actors Theatre from its humble beginnings to a nationally recognized regional theatre and a major force in American playwriting. He replaces Marc Masterson, who stepped down in May after 11 years to become artistic director of South Coast Repertory Theatre.

For more info about Berkeley Rep, please visit www.berkeleyrep.org