PORTLAND, ORE.: Ted Austin, chair of the board of directors at Portland Center Stage at the Armory, announced today that Marissa Wolf has been selected as the company’s new artistic director, after an eight-month, nationwide search. Wolf, most recently the associate artistic director at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, previously served as the artistic director at San Francisco’s innovative Crowded Fire Theater. Wolf succeeds Chris Coleman, who now leads Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and joins managing director Cynthia Fuhrman as co-leader of the city’s leading professional theatre. She’ll begin her role full-time on Sept. 15.
“I could not be more excited to welcome Marissa to Portland Center Stage at the Armory and to Portland,” said board president Austin in a statement. Of the search process, he said, “We set out to find someone who would appreciate how hard the staff and board have worked over the past 30 years to bring the theatre to its current status as one of the country’s top regional theatres, and who would also bring a fresh vision and energy to build upon that strong foundation.”
In a statement Wolf called her new job “the dream of a lifetime. I am honored to build on Chris Coleman’s powerhouse legacy of adventurous theatre in the breathtaking, historic Armory, and I am thrilled to lead this extraordinary company into the next chapter of growth and vitality. Together with Cynthia Fuhrman and the talented board and staff, I look forward to furthering Portland Center Stage as a national leader at the forefront of the American theatre, and a cultural home in which all Portlanders belong.”
Upon hearing of Wolf’s appointment, Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater in New York and a producer who has worked with Wolf over the years, most recently on the world premiere of Rinne Groff’s Fire in Dreamland, released a statement reading, in part, “Marissa Wolf is a rising star of the American theater. She has a dazzling spirit, spectacular taste, and a fierce vision which she imparts with grace and wit…Portland Center Stage is lucky to have nabbed her just as her talent is fully exploding.”
Said her new colleague Fuhrman in a statement, “Marissa’s impressive work to date shows her to be a champion of new voices and an inspiring and thoughtful leader; she is also an artist who is interested in honoring the strong traditions and history of the regional theatre.”
The hiring of Wolf also officially solidifies a new structure of leadership at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, with the artistic director and managing director co-leading the theatre and both reporting to the theater’s board of directors. This more typical structure is a departure from the previous structure, in which Coleman was the sole leader of the company.