Jeanette Harrison Named The New Artistic Director at Artists Rep

by | Sep 20, 2022 | News, Press

ART’s Board of Directors approved the recommendation by the search committee for next Artistic Director
Jeanette Harrison Named The New Artistic Director at Artists Rep
PORTLAND, OREGON – Sept 19, 2022  Artists Repertory Theatre (ART) is pleased to announce that Jeanette Harrison has been selected as the next Artistic Director. Harrison transitions into the role starting October 1, 2022, following a national search led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) after the departure of Dámaso Rodríguez earlier this year. Well known in the San Francisco Bay Area as the co-founder and Artistic Director of the award-winning AlterTheater, Harrison developed the ground-breaking AlterLab playwright residency program and has led more than 25 new plays to world premiere productions. Harrison’s award-winning work coupled with her approach and dedication to developing and producing new plays, as well as a deep commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, make her the ideal creative leader; only the third Artistic Director in ART’s 41 year history.
Jeanette served as the Artistic Director of AlterTheater for seventeen years, where her work has been recognized with 11 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, and 4 Theatre Bay Area Awards, as well as multiple nominations and finalists. Under Jeanette’s leadership, AlterTheater launched the AlterLab new play development & production program aimed at supporting a diverse group of artists in a yearlong residency allowing them to take creative risks. AlterLab’s First Look and World Premiere productions won regional and/or national awards, were listed on multiple “Best of the Year” critics’ lists, and were honorable mentions, finalists, or semi-finalists for various national awards. “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 Jeanette. 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 Theatre Critics Circle). Another of FastHorse’s plays, The Thanksgiving Play, was commissioned and first produced in April 2018 by ART; it is heading to Broadway in Spring 2023.
Jeanette Harrison Named The New Artistic Director at Artists Rep

Sisters Sandy (Carla Pauli, left) and Lola (Livia Gomes Demarchi, right) fight over who has to deal with their grandfather’s ashes, while their baby brother Bruno (Eduardo Soria, center) films their theatrics in AlterTheater’s world premiere of Rella Lossy Award winner Ghosts of Bogotá by Diana Burbano, now published by Stage Rights. Photo by David Allen.

I’m especially looking forward to building more relationships between Artists Rep and community groups working to make Portland a better, more equitable, more just, place to live and work.

Jeanette Harrison

Artistic Director

Harrison continues, “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 who I deeply respect and admire, and I look forward to getting to know more of the voices who call Portland home.”
Jeanette Harrison Named The New Artistic Director at Artists Rep

Kelly’s (Cathleen Riddley, right) attempts to teach a cow to count go off the rails when Maybelle (Gwen Loeb, left) has other priorities in the world premiere of Cow Pie Bingo by Larissa FastHorse. Photo by David Allen.

In addition to directorial duties, Jeanette has co-authored Feathers And Dots, Dots And Feathers with Sharmila Devar, a half-hour single camera comedy about family and cultural identity. It has received 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. When asked about her work, Jeanette said, “I’m deeply inspired by the multi-year study Reclaiming Native Truth. My takeaway is that accurate representation in media of contemporary Native Americans can have the biggest effect on changing Native lives, impacting things from suicide rates among Native youth to health and education outcomes.”

Board Chair Pancho Savery, says of Harrison, “ART was the first LORT theatre in the United States to hire a Latino AD; a leading-edge decision. ART continues its commitment to break new ground and create space for extraordinary theatre from new voices by hiring Jeanette.” She believes in combating invisibility and harmful representations by telling contemporary, complex Native stories written by Native authors. Jeanette, a Native New Yorker of Onondaga descent,  will be ART’s first Native American woman named Artistic Director.  

Jeanette will harness the power of theater to create empathy and build bridges across divides of  experience, perspective, wealth, ethnicity, to build stronger, more just, more equitable, more compassionate communities. Her vision is to maintain and develop new artistic alliances with playwrights and theatres locally and nationally, including the development of a robust arts education program. One of her most significant achievements is the Arts Learning Project for Native Youth (ALP4NY) program, which offers virtual, hybrid, and in-person arts programming to Native youth, centered in Nevada and California, and serving youth from New York to Washington state. Harrison stressed, “I look forward to finding more ways for Artists Rep to be a creative problem-solver for issues facing our local community. I’m especially looking forward to building more relationships between Artists Rep and community groups working to make Portland a better, more equitable, more just, place to live and work.” 

The 2022/23  Artists Repertory Theatre season is presented by Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Shubert Foundation, Arts Consulting Group, Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation/OCF, and Oregon Arts Commission/NEA/State of Oregon/Business Oregon.

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