BERKELEY, CALIF.: Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced today that Tom Parrish will become the theatre’s next managing director, following the retirement of Susie Medak, who has served in the role since 1990 and announced her departure in January. Parrish will join artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer, who joined the theatre in 2019.
Parrish has nearly 20 years of experience as an executive or senior leader at such theatres as Trinity Repertory Company, Geva Theatre Center, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and San Diego Repertory Theatre. Most recently, Parrish served as the interim chief operating officer of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
Parrish’s selection follows a lengthy and comprehensive search for Medak’s successor conducted by Arts Consulting Group, with a search committee of board and staff members led by board president Emily Shanks. In anticipation of the transition, Shanks, along with other members of the board, met with Berkeley Rep staff and interviewed those working in the arts from across the nation and abroad to help stakeholders understand the issues facing the field. The search committee received nearly 70 applications and ultimately interviewed a group of 13 candidates that included seven women, four other individuals who identified as part of the BIPOC community, and five self-identified members of the LGBTQIA+ community. At every round, the search committee ensured there was diversity among the candidates, including race, gender, ability, age, sexual orientation, country of origin, and experience.
“The future of Berkeley Rep will be sensational under the leadership of Tom Parrish and Johanna Pfaelzer,” said Shanks in a statement. “Tom is a skilled executive with an accomplished breadth of theatre experience. He has the qualities to infuse Berkeley Rep with fresh perspective. I am looking forward to having him as part of the leadership team.”
“I am thrilled to welcome Tom Parrish to Berkeley Rep,” said Johanna Pfaelzer in a statement. “His decades of service in the American theatre, combined with his deep commitment to ensuring that arts organizations reach beyond their walls to be vital, engaged members of their communities, make Tom a perfect choice to help lead Berkeley Rep’s next era. He is known to lead with both rigor and empathy—those qualities, plus his lifelong passion for the craft of theatremaking, will be a great match for our company as we continue to emerge from the challenges of the last couple of years. I’m looking forward to working with Tom to build on the extraordinary foundation that Susie and Tony created, and envision the next phase of this beloved company.”
In a statement, Susie Medak added of the appointment, “I have known Tom for many years and have enormous respect for him. The Berkeley Rep board has made a great choice. Tom’s commitment to theatre, to principles of inclusion and diversity, his financial and organizational acumen, and his appreciation for the responsibilities Berkeley Rep has to the many constituencies in our community make him well suited to partner with Johanna Pfaelzer.”
Said Parrish in a statement, “I am honored and thrilled to be partnering with Johanna in building upon a legacy of developing, producing, and presenting theatrical work that expands and diversifies audiences and sets standards of artistic innovation and production excellence. I look forward to collaborating with Johanna and the entire Berkeley Rep team and to building and developing relationships and community throughout Berkeley and the Greater Bay Area.”
Parrish will begin his tenure full-time on Sept. 12, and will be relocating with his partner to the Bay Area from New York City. Medak will continue in her position until August 31.
Founded in 1968, Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. As of 2020, its budget was close to $15.5 million.
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