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DCPA Announces New Artistic Director for Theatre Company

Chris Coleman of Portland Center Stage named fourth artistic director of Denver Center for the Performing Arts

ColoradoBiz Staff //November 14, 2017//

DCPA Announces New Artistic Director for Theatre Company

Chris Coleman of Portland Center Stage named fourth artistic director of Denver Center for the Performing Arts

ColoradoBiz Staff //November 14, 2017//

Janice Sinden, President and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), announced today that Chris Coleman has been named the fourth artistic director of its DCPA Theatre Company following a national search. Coleman will join the company in May 2018.

Coleman has served as artistic director of Portland Center Stage (PCS) for the past 17 years where he oversaw a robust season structure similarly to that of DCPA Theatre Company, featuring 12 classic, contemporary and new works on two stages as well as a playwrights' festival, education programs and community events.

"We are absolutely delighted to welcome Chris [Coleman] into our Denver family," says Sinden. "His commitment to artistic excellence, community engagement, new play development, crowd-pleasing musicals and discovery of new voices will further the DCPA's efforts to diversify its audience and resonate throughout the region. Working with Bard Arts Consulting, our search committee of representatives from the Board and staff have made an exciting selection for the future of our company."

"I am eager to work with these great artists and administrators to connect with the larger conversation Denver is having about its future," says Coleman, upon his appointment. "Together we can continue to extend DCPA Theatre Company's work onto the national stage. Through theatre, we can draw our neighbors into a dynamic relationship by telling the world's big stories – those we've traditionally thought of as "the great plays', those from other cultures that haven't found their way onto our stages and those big stories waiting to burst out of the mind of the young playwright down the street.

"There is not another theatre in the country with the same administrative and physical infrastructure inside one organization," Coleman says. "I am honored to join these incredible storytellers."

Under Coleman's leadership, PCS increased its artistic reputation both locally and nationally. The company has a commitment to new play development; of its world premieres, 52 have gone on to play on more than 115 stages across the U.S. and abroad. Several of the playwrights who have benefited from Portland's new play program also have received readings or full production from DCPA Theatre Company: Lauren Yee (The Great Leap), Melanie Marnich (Blur), Constance Congdon (Take me to the River) and Jason Grotw (1001).

While at PCS, Coleman produced or directed plays by diverse array of playwrights including Shakespeare, Shaw, Chekhov, Sophocles, Moliere Albee, Wild, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Ntozake Shange, Luis Alfaro, Jeanne Sakata, Bekah Brunstetter, Lauren Weedman, Dael Orlandersmith, David Henry Hwang, Matthew Lopez, John Patrick Shanley, Naomi Wallace, Sam Shepard, Douglas Carter Beane, Martin McDonaugh and Amy Freed among others.

Similar to DCPA Theatre Company's development of large-scale musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, White Christmas, Sense & Sensibility The Musical), Coleman has produced shows by Sondheim, Bernstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander & Ebb and Ahrens & Flaherty.

At PCS, he led efforts to advance diversity and inclusion, which has created meaningful relationships with communities of color and diversified its productions, staff and audience. According to Coleman, "In order to keep theatre as a critical component to the city and its way of life, theatre must reflect who the population is becoming – on stage, on staff and on the board."

Coleman also led the design and construction of PCS's new home in the Historic Portand Armory. This experience will help DCPA Theatre Company as it looks forward to renovating its Stage and Ricketson theatres within the next four years. 

His commitment to community connections, artistic excellence, new play development, large scale musicals and classic theatre have placed the company among the top 20 regional theatres in the U.S. with an annual attendance of 139,000.

Now Coleman will bring his administrative experience, his passion for storytelling and his commitment to artistry to DCPA Theatre Company where he will write a new chapter in his career and a new narrative for the nearly 40-year-old company. Coleman said, "The notion of this great company bringing millions of citizens in the region into contact with live theatre; of regional arts funding making new works and a vigorous education program possible; the idea of bringing big stories to life for Denver – it's all captivating."

Founded in 1979, Tony Award-winning DCPA Theatre Company produces a season of eight to 10 classic, contemporary and new works; hosts its annual Colorado New Play Summit, and engages new audiences through its experimental Off-Center producing division. Additionally, the Theatre Company provides artistic production support of select shows by DCPA Cabaret and DCPA Education. The Theatre Company employs as many as 330 individuals throughout its season.

Coleman will direct his adaptations of Astoria: Part I and Astoria: Part II followed by Major Barbara at Portland Center Stage before moving to Denver with his husband, Rodney, in May. In the meantime, he will work with Managing Director Charles Varin and Associate Artistic Directors Nataki Garrett and Charlie Miller to finalize the 2018-19 season selection.