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Sudden End of an era in the South Bay Area

Today San Jose Repertory Theatre announced that it has filed for bankruptcy and will no longer produce shows or any output, immediately canceling the remainder of its season and its planned 2014-15 offerings.

Although I never made it to see a show there, I was familiar with its output as a notable producer of plays in the South Bay region. Additionally, I had worked with its now-former artistic director, Rick Lombardo, in the Boston area, and he and I actually made the move to California at the same time, though bound for different locations.

It’s a shame – and seems quite incredulous, actually – that the Rep couldn’t form an alliance with one of the deep – pocketed tech companies in the Silicon Valley area. I don’t know the whole story, of course, though it may be tied in to downtown San Jose’s ups and downs with making itself into a destination rather than just a place that people work. I applied to work there at least once between 2008 and 2011, though it was always just a little too far from my Marin County home base to go for a night. However, many regional actors based more in the central Bay Area (SF, Oakland, Berkeley) appeared there regularly in a variety of shows and roles.

There are uncomfortable parallels with a similar situation unfolding here in Ann Arbor at the moment with the city’s premiere resident theatre company, Performance Network, although in that case the organization’s board has “suspended operations” and a new business model is set to be presented to the board at their upcoming meeting next week.

And on a personal note, this news comes just as I’ve been accepted to study for an MFA at an arts management program. But I remain committed and hopeful that the power of the arts as a beacon of the community – and way for people and places to come together – will shine through.

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