Stage designer Art Rotch has been named artistic director of Perseverance Theatre.
He replaces director P.J. Paparelli, who left at the end of his four-year contract to run the American Theatre Company in Chicago. The position has been open since September.
Rotch is returning for the Juneau position after a six-year stint in New York. There, he earned his Master's in Fine Arts in stagecraft at New York University and designed sets and lighting for various theaters.
"I'm anxious to be back in Juneau," he said.
He was the board's top choice from more than 60 applicants, said Maria Gladziszewski, a board member and chairwoman of the search committee.
Most often, theater companies hire stage directors for such positions.
"We all had to get used to the idea of a designer as an artistic director," Gladziszewski said. "And the more we thought about it, the more we thought it was a terrific idea."
A stage director's work is much more time-intensive than set design in the weeks leading up to a show. So Rotch may have more time for management and budget work, she said.
Board members were particularly interested in finding someone whose artistic philosophy meshed with their own. The Juneau-based professional theater company's mission is to make theater that is "by, for and about Alaskans," Gladziszewski said.
"He knows where we've been, understands our roots and has a commitment to a theater of place - specifically this place," Gladziszewski said.
"It's important to me that (Perseverance) have a really strong Alaska flavor," Rotch said.
That said, Perseverance will continue to invite out-of-towners to perform alongside Juneau actors, making good use of Rotch's contacts outside the state, including all those young actors he met at NYU.
"They're really, really talented," he said. "We can get them before they become too expensive."
But Rotch is no out-of-towner himself. He has been working with the theater in various capacities roughly since his arrival in Alaska in 1989. He has been the technical director and a member of the board of directors. And during his New York time, he flew back to Juneau to design sets or lighting for four shows. Most recently he designed for "Black Comedy" in December.
Perseverance Theatre is a nonprofit professional theater company founded in 1979. It is the resident theater company for the University of Alaska Southeast. Last year, its operating budget was more than $1 million.
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