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Sam Woodhouse. (File photo from San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sam Woodhouse to Retire as San Diego REP Artistic Director

The theatre’s co-founder will step down in September after 46 years leading the company.

SAN DIEGO: San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego REP) has announced that Sam Woodhouse will step down as artistic director in September 2022 after leading the company for 46 years. At the end of this season, San Diego REP will have produced 333 shows, including more than 50 world premieres, under Woodhouse’s leadership. 

In a statement, Woodhouse said, “The time is right for me to step aside and help the company find a new artistic leader who represents the contemporary zeitgeist. I look forward to meeting a successor who can lead the REP into a glorious future as a 21st-century theatre company.”

In his retirement statement, Woodhouse recognized the partnership of several people he has worked with during his tenure, including D.W. Jacobs, who co-founded the company with him in 1976; Jennifer Hankins and Dawn Moore, who each served nearly a decade as president of the board of trustees; Larry Alldredge, who served as 13 years as managing director; Todd Salovey, the REP’s current associate artistic director, who founded the Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival (JFEST); artists Herbert Siguenza and Dajhan Blevins; and supporters Sheila and Jeff Lipinsky and Joan and Irwin Jacobs.

Under Woodhouse’s leadership, the REP received a 1998 Tony Nomination for It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. The REP has also received more than 200 awards for artistic excellence from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, Patté Theatre Awards, NAACP, Back Stage West, Drama-Logue, and StageSceneLA. Recent Critics Circle awards included 2018 recognition for Woodhouse’s direction of the musical Fun Home

In 2003, Woodhouse was awarded the Patté Shiley Award for Lifetime Achievement by local public broadcasting station KPBS and the Alonzo Award by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. In 2006, he and co-founder Jacobs were honored with the Craig Noel Award by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for “30 years of artistic dedication to downtown and diversity.” 

San Diego REP’s mission has been to produce intimate, provocative, and inclusive theatre and to promote an interconnected community through vivid works that nourish progressive political and social values and celebrate the multiple voices of the region. The REP produces and hosts more than 550 events and performances year-round on its three stages at the downtown Lyceum Theatre, which it has managed since 1986, hosting runs and one night events of theatre, music, dance, magic, stand-up comedy, jazz and more.

As the REP’s artistic director, Woodhouse sought to reflect his commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the breadth of work produced by the company as well as the festivals it has produced and housed, among them JFEST; Kuumba Fest, the longest running festival of African and African American performances west of the Mississippi; San Diego REP Latinx New Play Festival; and the Black Voices Reading Series.

Thirteen months after the REP published its 2021 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan, the theatre reported that of the 293 artists it had hired to make work on its live or virtual stages, 61 percent were BIPOC artists and 66 percent were women. The REP staff of 45 employees is 45 percent BIPOC and 58 percent women. Woodhouse said in a statement, “I am proud of our work in EDI and very aware that we have a long way to go to meet our challenging goals.” 

Woodhouse concluded his retirement statement by saying, “Together with every actor, director, designer, and playwright I have been privileged to work with and to the thousands of theatre patrons who have walked the road with me, I am deeply grateful to everyone who have blessed an amazing journey.”

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