INDIANAPOLIS: Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) has selected Benjamin Hanna to become the next Margot Lacy Eccles artistic director. Benjamin Hanna is a director, curator, and arts educator with a passion for multigenerational theatre and a dedication to equity and access. He is the theatre’s current associate artistic director, and he will work alongside the current A.D., Janet Allen, to ensure a smooth transition until he officially steps into the role after Allen’s retirement on July 1.
“Ben’s whole-hearted desire to immerse himself in our shared community, to challenge himself with directing in new genres, to jump into committee and board activities with delight, and to champion the theatre’s inclusion and diversity work has made him the perfect candidate to co-lead the next chapter of the IRT’s life with managing director Suzanne Sweeney,” said Janet Allen in a statement. “As the theatre celebrates its first 50 years, I am confidently cheering on this exciting new leadership team and the abundance of talent they will bring to crafting the IRT’s future.”
As IRT’s associate artistic director for the past five years, Hanna’s impact on the organization has included inaugurating IRT’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) initiatives for the board, staff, and community collaborators. He also directed such acclaimed productions as Fahrenheit 451, The Book Club Play, and the upcoming thriller Clue, evolved season selection and casting processes, and ensured IRT’s quick pivot to virtual programming during the pandemic.
Before the IRT, Hanna worked for the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In his native Minnesota, Hanna served on the staff at the Penumbra Theatre Company, where he expanded education and community engagement programming. Hanna has received many distinguished awards for both arts and leadership, including a Theatre Communications Group Leadership University Award funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard O Morris Award for Exemplary Staff Service at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and the Trailblazer Award from University High School in Carmel, Indiana. Hanna is also currently a member of the Class of XLVI in the Stanley K. Lacy (SKL) Executive Leadership Series for Leadership Indianapolis.
In his new role, Hanna will champion playwrights’ work, expand offerings for student and multigenerational audiences, and develop partnerships alongside the newly appointed director of inclusion and community partnerships, Devon Ginn.
“I am deeply honored to serve as IRT’s next artistic leader,” said Hanna in a statement. “In our next chapter, I envision a theatre that is nationally celebrated, revered for producing challenging new works of the highest caliber, and is known as a leader in modeling equity and inclusion. I aspire to break down historic barriers to the theatre and welcome new audiences by building community-responsive programming. I am committed to using theatre’s transformative power to strengthen our cultural community, build spaces of belonging for historically marginalized voices, and to serve as a vital catalyst for conversation, education, empathy-building, and civic engagement.”
Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional nonprofit theatre in the state. The theatre aims to produce professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, while helping build a vital and vibrant community. As of 2020, IRT had an approximate budget of $7.5 million.
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