Culture Spotlight: San Diego Repertory Theatre
Founded in 1976 and set to celebrate its 40th anniversary season next year, the San Diego Repertory Theater is the brainchild of San Woodhouse and D.W. Jacobs, who sought to establish a theatre company that would choose provocative works by diverse authors to inspire audiences and artists to build the communication bridges between today’s society and the future. Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, the Rep’s works often examine human diversity, taboos, and sociopolitical issues, such as last year’s play Honky, which delved into racism, and this month’s Oedipus El Rey, a twist on the classic Oedipus Rex, which centers on Latinos in a Southern California barrio.
Originally housed in the Sixth Avenue Playhouse, the company moved its productions to the Lyceum theater space in Horton Plaza in 1986. Since that time they have worked with numerous celebrities and notable playwrights, produced 37 main stage productions by Latino playwrights, and produced 43 world premiers.
Alongside live performances, the San Diego Repertory Theatre also hosts the Lyceum Gallery, an art space that showcases various works often relating to the productions on stage. Many notable artists have held residencies and provided pieces for the gallery over the years, including Luis Valdez, Max Roach, Amiri Baraka, Culture Clash, Yehuda Hyman, Marion J. Caffey, Randall Myler, Octavio Solis, and Maria Irene Fornes, to name a few.
To further the bond between artists and community, the Rep collaborates with The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in the Xchange Xperience program, which offers students the opportunity to rehearse and perform on the Lyceum’s stage in a fully realized musical. Additionally, a brand new education program in collaboration with Qualcomm provides educators with curriculum, in-class presentations, and engaging learning tools. The program will also provide college and high school students with paid internship experiences.
In 2005, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle awarded the Rep with the Craig Noel Award, acknowledging an outstanding 30 years of artistic dedication to Downtown and diversity. It’s yet another momentous accolade that sits proudly beside the Rep’s other achievements, including a 1998 Tony Award nomination for It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, and over 200 awards for artistic excellence from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, Patté Theatre Awards, NAACP, and Backstage West. (619.544.1000, sdrep.org) RYAN THOMAS