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Robert Kelley. (Photo courtesy of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley)

Robert Kelley to Leave TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

He will depart in 2020, after 50 years at the theatre he founded.

PALO ALTO, CALIF.: Robert Kelley, founding artistic director of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, has announced that he will retire at the end of the company’s 50th season, in 2020. Kelley founded the theatre in 1970.

“I’m healthy, I still love making theatre, and I intend to remain active in support of the company,” said Kelley in a statement. “But I believe the half-century mark is a timely and appropriate moment for TheatreWorks to embrace new leadership to continue our growth into the future. Following retirement, I hope to remain active with the company, and look forward to being a part in its future growth under a new artistic leader.”

At TheatreWorks, Kelley has directed 170 of the company’s 426 productions. He founded TheatreWorks as a theatre arts workshop for teenage and college students. In its first three years, the company produced 13 original works. Today, TheatreWorks is a League of Resident Theatres (LORT) institution, with an annual budget of $8 million, and a full-time staff of 40. The company regularly produces regional and world premieres, and incubates new plays and musicals. To date, the theatre has produced 66 world premieres. TheatreWorks workshopped and produced the world premiere of the musical Memphis, which eventually played on Broadway and the West End. Other notable world premieres include the musical Fly By Night by Kim Rosenstock, Will Connolly, and Michael Mitnick, and The North Pool by Rajiv Joseph.

“The board fully appreciates all Kelley has done not only for theatre in the Bay Area, but also across the country,” said TheatreWorks board of trustees chair Barbara Shapiro in a statement. “TheatreWorks has always reflected the diversity, entrepreneurship, and humanity of our community, as well as Kelley’s personal warmth and artistry. With our national reputation for artistic quality, our strong financial position, and the outstanding organizational leadership of our board and staff, we are in an excellent position to seek out and retain new artistic leadership.”

A search for Kelley’s successor will begin this year.

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