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WaterTower Theatre Appoints New Artistic Director 19

WaterTower Theatre announced this morning that Joanie Schultz will be the Addison theater’s new artistic director. Schultz has extensive experience directing theater and opera in Chicago the past 20 years. Companies she’s worked with include Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens, the Cleveland Play House and Chicago’s leading resident company, the Goodman.

With theater, Schultz’ work has primarily been with contemporary or brand-new works, including ‘Hand to God’ by Texas-born playwright Rob Haskins, David Ives’ ‘Venus in Fur’  and ‘Martyr’ by German playwright Marius von Mayenberg. Even when she’s directed operas, they’ve generally been updated, scaled-down or adapted in some fashion, as in a film noir-style ‘Carmen’ or Richard Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle performed in six hours. In addition to her freelance work, Schultz has been an ensemble member at Steep Theatre, an artistic associate producer with Victory Gardens and a Drama League Fellow, which involves an artist residency with leading resident and New York theater companies.

In a director’s program note for a Columbia College production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ Schultz described herself as ‘frustrated and impatient’ with life. That frustration may be prompted, in part, by her utopian ideals for the stage. In an artist’s statement for her online bio, Schultz writes: “Much of the work I create resides in a genre I call mythic realism. That is, a world based in a reality that is recognizable to us in some way, but with events that transcend what we believe to be the limitations of this world. Mostly, I am drawn to ordinary characters who exist in extraordinary circumstances, either by their own mind’s construction, or by the extreme state of the world they live in. These extraordinary circumstances are integral to creating theatrical metaphor, and therefore asking the audience to become co-creators in the reality of the play. …

“My inspirations include (among so many): small gestures of connection, Haruki Murakami, Pina Bausch, the sea, Robert Kennedy, Edith Craig, Jane Austen, radical acceptance, Sophie Treadwell, Ingmar Bergman, Chris Kraus, exotic birds, Joan of Arc, Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Ostermeier, Handel, Michele Gondry, Bjork, that space between perfection and the truth, Kierkegaard, the city of Chicago, and everyone who tries really really hard.”

Beginning January 1st, Schultz replaces Terry Martin, who led WaterTower for 17 years – until this past July when he became head of fine arts at Addison’s Greenhill School. Schultz may be the first ‘outsider’ to run WaterTower, but as a female artistic director, she joins a longstanding North Texas tradition: women running stage companies. Currently, these include Dana Schultes (Stage West), Robyn Flatt (Dallas Children’s Theater), Katherine Owens (Undermain), Tina Parker (Kitchen Dog), Irma Hall and Regina Washington (African-American Rep), Teatro Dallas (Cora Cardona), Amphibian Productions (Kathleen Culebro) and Bishop Arts Theater (Teresa Coleman Wash) — a tradition started in the 1940s by, of course, Dallas theater pioneer Margo Jones.


Joanie Schultz. Photo: Joe Mazza.

The full release:

WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors Names Joanie Schultz as new Artistic Director

Schultz, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Theatre Communications Fellow and multi-award winning director of theatre and opera, will take up her new post on January 1, 2017


(Addison)… Paul Shultz, President of the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors, and Derek Blount, Chairman of the WaterTower Theatre Artistic Director Search Committee, today announced the appointment of Joanie Schultz as Artistic Director.  Ms. Schultz will assume her new position on January 1, 2017 and will immediately begin planning the Company’s 2017-2018 Season with the intent to announce it in May 2017.

When WaterTower Theatre’s longtime Producing Artistic Director Terry Martin resigned last May, the Board of Directors took the opportunity to evaluate the Company and make significant changes in organizational structure – specifically, creating a bifurcated management model with a Managing Director to head the Company’s business and operations, and a parallel Artistic Director to serve as WaterTower Theatre’s artistic visionary and manage the productions of the Company. Longtime Director of Development Gregory Patterson into the position of Managing Director, and a Search Committee was formed to begin the process of identifying the future Artistic Director.

The Search Committee, chaired by Derek Blount, consisted of WaterTower Theatre Board members Rose Colarossi, Stan Graner, Paul Shultz, and Managing Director Gregory Patterson.  The executive search consulting firm of Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates was engaged to lead the process.  Margaret Genovese acted as lead consultant in the national search that ultimately garnered more than one hundred candidates from across North America. Following an extensive interview process, Joanie Schultz was unanimously recommended by the Search Committee to the Board of Directors for this important leadership position.

Joanie Schultz is a director of theatre and opera based out of Chicago, IL, where she has lived for the last 20 years. Ms. Schultz’s work includes directing for The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, The Cleveland Play House, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre in Washington DC, and 30 other theater and opera companies throughout Chicago. Joanie holds an MFA in directing from Northwestern University and a BA in directing from Columbia College Chicago. She was a Drama League Fellow, The Goodman Theatre’s Michael Maggio Directing Fellow, the SDCF Denham Fellow, a Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab participant, and was 2013 Co-Artistic Curator for Theater on the Lake. Joanie was co-Artistic Director of Estrogen Fes, Associate Artistic Director of The Building Stage and co-Founder/Artistic Director of Flush Puppy Productions. Most recently, Joanie served as Associate Artistic Producer at Victory Gardens Theater, as part of the Leadership U One-on-One Fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by TCG.  She is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre; associate artist with Victory Gardens; and an artistic cabinet member at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. She has been on the theater faculty of Columbia College Chicago and University of Chicago, the opera faculty of Roosevelt University, and has taught for the School at Steppenwolf, the Audition Studio, and Italian Operatic Experience.

Her extensive directing credits include world premieres, regional premieres, and re-envisioning of classic work. Select credits include directing the smash hit and long-extended Hand to God (Studio Theatre); Venus in Fur (Goodman Theatre); the world premieres of Sarah Gubbins’ Cocked (Victory Gardens Theater), fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life (Steppenwolf Theatre), and The Kid Thing (About Face Theatre/Chicago Dramatists); the critically lauded The Whale and Rest by Samuel D. Hunter (Victory Gardens Theater); the Jeff Award winning productions of In Arabia We’d All be Kings and The Brief History of Helen of Troy (Steep Theatre), site-specific performances of the operas Acis and Galatea (Chicago Cultural Center) and Bluebeard’s Castle (New Millennium Orchestra), and co-creating and directing a 6-hour theatrical adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (The Building Stage).

“Joanie is a phenomenal choice to lead WaterTower Theatre’s artistic vision into a new era,” said WaterTower Theatre Board President Paul Shultz.  “She has the unique combination of being a successful director of both new works and classics in the worlds of theatre and opera.”

“We set out on a lengthy search to find the ideal candidate, someone who has both a passion for theatre as well as an understanding of the business side of arts management,” said Derek Blount, Chairman of the Search Committee.  “We also sought a leader who would bring new vision, new focus, and new creative energy to WaterTower Theatre, someone with a track record of developing transformative theatre, and someone who is in sync with ideas and events that are shaping people’s consciousness across the country.  Joanie meets and exceeds all these requirements and is the perfect choice to lead WaterTower Theatre into a new chapter in its history.”

“Joanie is one of the most gifted young directors working in our business today and I very much look forward to partnering with her,” said Managing Director Gregory Patterson.  “She will bring a daring new perspective to the work we produce on our stage while respecting the work we’ve done in the past and the incredible community which has supported us for 20 years.  She is passionate, creative, genuine, insightful, and intuitive, possessing an artistic maturity that will fuse beautifully with the culture here at WaterTower Theatre that makes us unique in our community.”

“I am so excited by the opportunity to lead WaterTower Theatre’s artistic contributions to a new level in an already dynamic cultural landscape in the DFW Metroplex,” said Joanie Schultz, Artistic Director-designate.  “WaterTower Theatre has a rich history and deep roots in the community and I’m looking forward to building on the solid foundation established by former Producing Artistic Director Terry Martin.”

“It is my belief that creating plays that express our contemporary moment is the greatest contribution we can give to the world as theatre artists,” said Schultz. “By our attempt to articulate our unique experiences in this place now, we are fostering desperately needed conversation in the most needed human way, through the live experience of other people. The consciousness created in the empathy of the shared experience an audience has with the actors on stage is irreplaceable by anything on a screen. And it is my passion for this expression and what it fosters that drives my work as a director and producer of theatre.”

“I look forward to getting to know the Addison community and its leaders,” said Schultz.  “The Town of Addison is so generous in its support of the arts, in particular WaterTower Theatre.  I look forward to partnering with them on our collective desire to produce an exceptional theatrical experience that is unique, innovative, and entertaining, opening doors to bring greater understanding to the many challenges that face our community.”


About Joanie Schultz

Joanie Schultz has been serving as Associate Artistic Producer at Victory Gardens Theater, as part of the Leadership U One-on-One Fellowship funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation administered through TCG, the national non-profit regional theatre service organization.  She is also a freelance director, with recent productions at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Studio Theatre, The Cleveland Play House, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Victory Gardens Theater.

She was a Drama League Fellow, The Goodman Theatre Michael Maggio Director Fellow; the SDSF Denham Fellow; and Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab participant.  She is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre, Artistic Associate at Victory Gardens Theater, and artistic cabinet member at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.  She is currently on adjunct faculty in directing at Columbia College and University of Chicago.  She received her B.A. in Theatre/Directing at Columbia College and her M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from Northwestern University.