AMERICAN THEATER | Jeanette Harrison Named New Artistic Director of Artists Rep

Jeanette Harrison. (Photo by Paul Gregory)

PORTLAND, Ore.: Artists Repertory Theater (ART) has selected Jeanette Harrison to be the next artistic director. Following a national search led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) and the departure of her predecessor Dámaso Rodríguez earlier this year, Harrison will step into the role on Oct. 1.

“ART was the first LORT Theater in the United States to hire a Latino AD, a leading-edge decision,” said board chair Pancho Savery in a statement. “ART continues its commitment to break new ground and create space for extraordinary Theater from new Voices by hiring Jeanette.”

Harrison comes to Artists Rep after serving as the co-founder and artistic director of AlterTheater for seventeen years. During that time, she developed the AlterLab playwright Residency and new-play development program, shepherded more than 25 new plays to world premiere productions, and championed the Arts Learning Project for Native Youth (ALP4NY) program. Her work has been recognized with 11 Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Awards and 4 Theater Bay Area Awards, as well as multiple nominations and finalists. A Native New Yorker of Onondaga descent, Harrison will be ART’s first Native American woman artistic leader.

Among the AlterLab Productions were Ghosts of Bogotá by Diana Burbano, a Rella Lossy Award Winner and ART Mercury Company member, and Larissa FastHorse’s Cow Pie ​​Bingo (Theatre Bay Area Award winner) and Landless (USA Pen Literary Award in Drama; Nominated for Best New Script from Bay Area Theater Critics Circle). Another of FastHorse’s plays, The Thanksgiving Playwas commissioned and first produced in April 2018 by ART, and is heading to Broadway in Spring 2023. Harrison has co-authored Feathers And Dots, Dots And Feathers with Sharmila Devar, a half-hour single-camera Comedy about family and cultural identity, with developmental support from LA SkinsFest’s Native Writers program and CBS. Jeanette was also selected for LA SkinsFest’s Inaugural Native American Animation Lab, where she developed Little Drummer Girl.

“I’m very excited by the Synergy that already exists—separately, Artists Rep and I have already supported many of the same artists, and I look forward to what we can do together,” said Harrison in a statement. “The arts are one of the most powerful tools for change. And how great it is to know that if we tell stories of Black joy, if we laugh with contemporary Native characters trying to fall in love, if we put stories onstage that celebrate the complicated, messy lives of three-dimensional people, that we are helping to move that needle on justice, on equity. I love that Artists Rep is already committed to this kind of work, that they, too, were a supporter of Larissa FastHorse, who went on to become the first Native playwright produced Off-Broadway; that Artists Rep has supported Diana Burbano, who has rapidly made a name for herself in creating messy and successful professional Latinas. These are women and artists whom I deeply respect and admire, and I look forward to getting to know more of the Voices who call Portland home.”

Established in 1982, Artists Repertory Theater is Portland’s oldest professional theater company. The company aims to produce intimate, provocative theater and provide a home for a diverse community of artists and audiences to take creative risks. As of 2021, Artists Rep had an approximate budget of $2 million.

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