Kretzu and Artists Rep part ways

The longtime director's departure signals big changes in leadership

Jon Kretzu, associate artistic director at Artists Repertory Theatre for almost 20 years, is leaving the company, the theater announced Friday afternoon. Artistic Director Allen Nause created the position for Kretzu shortly after Kretzu directed his first show for Artists Rep, Charles Ludlam’s “The Artificial Jungle,” in 1993. Since then Kretzu, one of the busiest directors in town, has directed 50 productions for Artists Rep in addition to many others in Portland and nationally.

Jon Kretzu

Kretzu’s departure isn’t a surprise. It anticipates Nause’s own long-announced retirement at the end of the current season. Artists Rep is in the final stages of choosing a successor to Nause, and Kretzu’s announcement clears the way for the new artistic leader to put his or her stamp on the company. Nause and Kretzu were long considered a smooth-running team. During their time together at Artists Rep the company has solidified itself financially, expanded into its current two-stage home in the West End, and positioned itself near the center of the city’s theater scene. Its impending change of artistic leadership puts it at a crucial crossroads.

Kretzu will direct Artists Rep’s next show, a remounting of last year’s holiday hit “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol.” His many shows for Artists Rep have ranged from American classics such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” to topical plays such as “The Normal Heart” and “The Laramie Project” to musicals such as Sondheim’s “Assassins” to world-premiere adaptations of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” (Tracy Letts) and “The Cherry Orchard” (Richard Kramer), in addition to contemporary hits such as “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” “Buried Child,” and “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”

“Jon’s contributions to Artists Rep are simply immeasurable,” Nause said in a press release. “We have worked side-by-side to craft the artistic voice of Artists Rep over the past 20 years. Jon always brings a unique, incisive perspective to his work. Jon was always my favorite director to work with as actor. He is a dear friend and brilliant collaborator whose artistic aesthetic has significantly shaped Artists Rep into the premiere regional theatre company that is 30-years strong today.”

The release quoted Kretzu: “After nearly 20 years and the thrill of creating 50 productions for Artists Repertory Theatre I feel it is time to follow Allen and leave my position at the theatre to move on and grow artistically devoting myself fully to working on new projects in different venues and explore new cities. Allen and I are a team and I really cannot imagine continuing on as an Associate Artistic Director with anyone else.”

Kretzu will stay busy. He has several directing projects lined up for the next 18 months, in Portland and elsewhere, onstage and on film. And, he said, he’d love to be a guest director for Artists Rep.

One Response.

  1. Bob Hicks says:

    Marty Hughley posted an excellent interview with Jon Kretzu today on Oregon Live. In it, Jon talks at length about what he’s done at Artists Rep, what he expects to do in the future, and why he decided not to apply for Artists Rep’s top job or stick around as No. 2 to someone else.

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