RICHMOND, VA.: Virginia Repertory Theatre has filled all the roles in its new, tripartite artistic leadership model, which it first announced in the fall of 2021, as a replacement for the previous model and artistic director Nathaniel Shaw, who served as artistic director from 2016 to 2020 (following the long tenure of founding artistic director Bruce Miller). As announced before, Desirée Roots will be artistic director of community. Newly added to the leadership team are Todd D. Norris, who will serve as artistic director of education, and Rick Hammerly, artistic director of programming.
“Before Theatre IV and Barksdale Theatre merged to become Virginia Rep,” said board chair-elect and board selection committee chair William H. Carter in a statement, “Theatre IV’s mission was to seek national caliber excellence equally in four areas: the arts, education, children’s health, and community leadership. This mission inspired Theatre IV’s name, and these commitments continue to serve as the pillars of Virginia Rep’s operations today.”
At Virginia Rep, Desirée Roots works on programs that connect youth with community health and wellness programs, as well as the theatre’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access programming. Roots is a singer, actor, and dancer with longstanding ties to the Richmond community. She previously served as program coordinator for the Richmond Jazz Society and as booking manager for Downtown Presents.
Todd D. Norris is a director, educator, writer and actor. He served as president of the International Museum Theatre Alliance, was associate vice president of interpretation and family programs at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and was senior manager of performance interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He has taught and directed at several schools, including the College of William and Mary, Christopher Newport University, Alice Lloyd College, and Wright State University. Norris will lead all programming for children, families, and schools. He will co-lead Virginia Rep’s award-winning Community Health + Wellness program alongside Desirée Roots.
Rick Hammerly is a D.C.-based actor, director, filmmaker, and arts manager with over three decades of experience in the industry. He received a 2018 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of Lela & Co. and a 2020 Helen Hayes Award nomination for his direction of Agnes of God. His other directing credits include Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue’s The Brontes, Reykjavik, Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Driving Miss Daisy, Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook, Dead Man Walking, and Closet Land. He was selected to participate in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s inaugural directors’ studio program. Hammerly is a founder and the current producing artistic director of Factory 449 and is the current executive director of the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive (WAPAVA). In his role at Virginia Rep, Hammerly will lead all programming for adult audiences (Signature Season, Hanover Season, Cadence Season).
Virginia Repertory Theatre is a regional professional theatre headquartered in downtown Richmond, and one of the largest performing arts organizations in Central Virginia. Virginia Rep stages four seasons annually: the Signature Season at the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre, the Children’s Season, the Hanover Tavern Season, and the Theatre Gym Season produced in partnership with Cadence Theatre Company. As of 2019, Virginia Rep had a budget of around $5.6 million.
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