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Shakespeare expert Barry Edelstein to lead San Diego's Old Globe

October 16, 2012|By Mike Boehm | This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
  • Barry Edelstein has been named artistic director of the Old Globe theater in San Diego. The Shakespeare expert has held leadership positions at New York City stage companies.
Barry Edelstein has been named artistic director of the Old Globe theater… (Doug Gates )

Barry Edelstein, a Shakespeare expert who has held executive positions at two New York City theaters, has been picked as the next artistic director of San Diego’s Old Globe.

Since 2008, Edelstein has been director of the Shakespeare Initiative at the Public Theater, where his duties have included overseeing the company’s annual summer Shakespeare productions – typically star-studded --  in New York’s Central Park.

Starting Nov. 1, Edelstein’s creative digs will be San Diego’s Balboa Park, home to the Old Globe and its own outdoor summer Shakespeare festival.

From 1998 to 2003, Edelstein was artistic director of New York’s Classic Stage Company, an off-Broadway house that won six Obie Awards during his tenure. There, he commissioned Steve Martin to adapt “The Underpants,” an obscure 1911 satire by the German playwright Carl Sternheim. Martin’s whimsical comedy was widely produced in regional theaters, including in stagings at the Geffen Playhouse and Laguna Playhouse in 2004 and 2005.

Edelstein is the author of “Thinking Shakespeare,” a 2007 guidebook for actors, and “Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions,” a 2009 book for general audiences that selects, analyzes and gives coaching on how to speak Shakespearean passages that might come in handy for people trying to express themselves about a gamut of common life-cycle experiences.

In Los Angeles, Edelstein directed the Mark Taper Forum’s 2006 production of “iWitness,” Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol’s historical drama about Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian farmer who defied the Nazis and was beheaded for refusing induction into the German army during World War II.

In the Tuesday news release announcing his hiring, Edelstein said he hopes to “guide the theater into a new period of excitement and achievement,” in tandem with Michael G. Murphy, who was named the Old Globe’s managing director in April. Murphy, who has been with the theater since 2003, became interim managing director after Louis Spisto resigned a year ago from his dual post as executive producer and chief executive.

Edelstein’s hiring marks the Old Globe's return to the most typical management structure for nonprofit theaters -- having separate chiefs for artistic matters and business operations -- after nearly five years of trying other arrangements.

Following the late-2007 resignation of Jack O’Brien, the longtime artistic director who increasingly had focused on his Tony Award-festooned Broadway directing career, the company divided the artistic duties between two co-artistic directors, Jerry Patch and Darko Tresnjak.

Patch left in 2008 for his current job as director of artistic development at the Manhattan Theatre Club, and Tresnjak returned in 2009 to a freelance directing career (last year he became artistic director of the Hartford Stage in Connecticut).  Spisto, who had been in charge of the Old Globe’s business operations since 2002, then took over artistic leadership as well until his departure last October.

[For the Record, 6:45 p.m. Oct. 16: This post originally spelled Darko Tresnjak's name as Dark Tresjnak.]

ALSO:

Review: Action leads Old Globe Shakespeare Festival

Lou Spisto to depart Old Globe to become independent stage producer

Craig Noel dies at 94; founding director of San Diego's renowned Old Globe

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