James Still smiling in front of the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles

Indiana Repertory Theatre to name next Playwright-in-Residence

After more than two decades, James Still to end his tenure and assist with transition process

May 14, 2024

Indianapolis, Ind.— For writer James Still and the Indiana Repertory Theatre, what started as a short-term grant for a playwright to connect with a theatre blossomed into an unprecedented relationship of nearly 30 years. Now, after creating with the IRT for more than half of its history, Still will end his tenure as Playwright-in-Residence at the end of the 2023-2024 Season and help the Theatre transition the position into its next chapter. In his honor, the role will be named the James Still Playwright-in-Residence.

“James Still has made an indelible mark on the Indiana Repertory Theatre. For more than 26 years, James has served as our Playwright-in-Residence and a true creative force crafting beautiful works of theatre as a playwright, director, and curator of the IRT experience,” said Benjamin Hanna, IRT’s Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director. “I am always excited to see what James does next and can’t wait to see his work in theatres across the country.”

From comedies and dramas to new works and classic stories, James Still has written or directed more than 40 productions, including eight world premieres, eight special commissions, and an original trilogy of plays: The House That Jack Built (2012 and 2021), Appoggiatura (2018), and Miranda (2014). The trilogy, known as “The Jack Plays”, won the prestigious Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award in Drama.

He has directed almost every year of his tenure, beginning in 2000 with his own story Amber Waves, which the IRT staged again in 2019. He also directed two of his other plays, I Love to Eat: Cooking with James Beard and Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, a work the IRT has produced three times and has featured actor David Alan Anderson in the renowned solo play. Still’s IRT directing credits range from Red, God of Carnage, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Twelve Angry Men, and, most recently, an adaptation of Oedipus in the 2022-2023 Season. Next season, he will direct The Glass Menagerie on the newly named Janet Allen Stage.

“James Still is a thoughtful, caring, passionate artist and storyteller,” David Alan Anderson said. “Those traits reveal themselves in the stories he tells and the characters he creates. His great capacity for collaboration makes him invaluable as a colleague and, for me, a mentor.”

In addition to the many subjects and genres Still has explored while with the IRT, there have been two community-based oral history projects. For 2002’s He Held Me Grand, he interviewed dozens of senior citizens about the turn of the century; and for 2015’s April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream, Still spent four years in conversation with people who were present at Robert F. Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis the night Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. With the IRT’s support, both projects resulted in plays that celebrated history through the lens of a community’s personal experience.

“Every person has a story—they only need to be asked,” Still said. “The IRT has given me an artistic home and a place to match my artistic curiosity and love of exquisite and theatrical storytelling. This has been an extraordinary opportunity to dive deep inside an organization and to participate in leadership in ways that working freelance cannot provide. Most poignant for me is that more than 20 of my plays have been in a long, continuous conversation with the IRT audience.”

As Still’s role of IRT’s first ever Playwright-in-Residence comes to a close, he will continue collaborating with artists and communities around the country exploring stories about the forgotten or unknown, lifting up the unsung and reluctant heroes who have challenged the status quo and helped inspire change. Still remains based in Los Angeles where he also writes for television and serves as a mentor for other artists.

“It’s all very poetic,” Still said. “The idea of a freelance artist starting in a short-term grant-funded position and having the kind of impact on an organization that eventually results in an endowed position in my name—it’s all remarkable and speaks to the IRT’s commitment to meaningful relationships. It is humbling knowing how rare and special this partnership has been.”

The IRT’s new James Still Playwright-in-Residence is expected to be named later this year.

For more information contact Kerry Barmann, Associate Director of Marketing, at kbarmann@irtlive.com or 317.916.4824.

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ABOUT THE IRT
Founded in 1971, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA): The IRT strives to celebrate and serve the diverse people and cultures that make up our whole community. The IRT is committed to providing access for all; to creating and maintaining an antiracist theatre that is inclusive, safe, and respectful.

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