Martin Benson (left) and David Emmes shocked some in the community with today's announcement that they will seek a new artistic director to succeed them as they move into essentially "emeritus" roles at the theatre they founded more than four decades ago. Others in the community knew that these savvy theatre producers were not likely to leave it all to chance--that they would plan an orderly transition from the South Coast Repertory they led from an itinerant troupe to arguably one of the nation's finest resident professional theatres.
The mention in press reports (LA Times and OC Register) that SCR's associate artistic director John Glore (a respected literary manager) would be a candidate for the position inevitably suggests to some that, barring some calamity, this longstanding SCR artistic staff member will be tapped for the post.
It would not be the only theatre in the nation led by a non-stage director. LA's Center Theatre Group (Mark Taper Forum/Ahmanson Theatre/Kirk Douglas Theatre) is led by Michael Ritchie who began his career as a stage manager and produces--but does not direct--at his venues. About twenty years ago, an esteemed playwright Ed Graczyk ("Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean") was artistic director of Theatre Columbus (Ohio). Even the renowned Joe Papp was primarily a force of nature driving his enormous Public Theatre/NY Shakespeare Festival organization forward, rather than a director (only very early on did he stage the rare production).
Glore's forte as a dramaturg would mean that as an artistic director he would likely carry on the legacy of developing & producing new works at SCR. And with Emmes & Benson hanging on for at least 5 years as Founding Directors with stage directing assignments, the rest of the season's offerings can be farmed out to guest directors without an "Artistic Director" Glore batting an eye.
But...a plum job like an artistic directorship at one of the nation's most financially-stable theatre companies is going to attract some top-notch competition for Glore during the search process.
It will be fascinating to see who is ultimately selected.