SALINAS, CALIF.: The Western Stage (TWS) theatre company has announced that artistic director Jon Selover will retire in December after 19 years as artistic director and 36 total years with the theatre. Selover will depart the Hartnell College-based company as its longest-serving artistic director. Hartnell is still in the process of determining when and how to transition Selover’s duties, which have included navigating COVID-19 with artistic program director Melissa Chin-Parker and shifting the entire 2020 season to 2021.
“Jon’s years as artistic director can be characterized by ensuring stability in the face of significant and potentially devastating changes and challenges to the program,” said Chin-Parker, who has been in her role since 2001, in a statement, “while maintaining high ideals for continued excellence and providing a safe place for artists to discover, grow, and return.”
Selover joined TWS in 1984 as an actor. He was later a production stage manager for several years before becoming an associate director of the company in 1988. Since then, Selover has directed more than 60 productions, including directing 2019’s Of Mice and Men, A Musical Drama, his final artistic contribution to the company. This adaptation also marked a bit of a full-circle moment for Selover, who played the role of Carlson in TWS’s 1984 mounting of the John Steinbeck adaptation.
“We are all fortunate to have individuals like Jon Selover make a lifelong career in the arts,” said Hartnell governing board president Aurelio Salazar Jr. in a statement. “Theatre is among our oldest and greatest traditions, and Jon has truly helped preserve and elevate this special part of American culture.”
During his time at TWS, Selover also oversaw TWS’s efforts to more closely tie the company’s programs and productions to the history of the Salinas Valley and the people of the Hartnell Community College District, in particular its predominantly Latinx students. In an effort to create a way for college-aged students to create theatre they were interested in, Selover also oversaw the creation of the annual 2×4 BASH, a summer repertory program run entirely by students who are able to use TWS’s venue, resources, and mentorship.
“I am tremendously grateful for my time here,” said Selover in a statement, doing “such fulfilling and meaningful work on such wonderful theatrical projects. And working with so many amazing people. That’s what really marks my time here: the people.”
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