Campus & Community

Robert J. Orchard Named Director of Loeb Drama Center

3 min read

Robert J. Orchard, for two decades the managing director of the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard, will become the Center’s director, it was announced today (March 16).

In that role, he succeeds Robert Brustein, who has served since 1980 both as the director of the Loeb Drama Center and as the artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.).

Brustein remains as the artistic director of the A.R.T., which he founded. Orchard will continue as the managing director of the A.R.T., while also serving as director of the Loeb.

The Loeb Drama Center is home to the A.R.T., as well as the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. The A.R.T. is in its 21st season operating in association with Harvard, and is one of the few resident theater companies in the country performing plays in rotating repertory, drawing on new American plays, neglected works from the past, and re-examined classic texts.

Brustein, who is also professor of English at Harvard, said that his stepping aside as director of the Loeb Drama Center represents a natural evolution in the clarification of administrative duties that he and Orchard have effectively shared for many years. It also allows for the beginning of a process that will, over time, introduce new artistic leadership to the A.R.T.

“We should begin preparing for the time when I will be yielding my day-to-day artistic leadership of the A.R.T. to someone who can represent a new and rising generation of talent,” Brustein said. “This process will not be precipitous and will require careful deliberation, as well as close collaboration by the A.R.T. and the University.”

President Neil L. Rudenstine called the announcement concerning Orchard “the formalization of a development that has been taking place for some time. I also look forward to working with Bob Brustein, the A.R.T., and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as we think together about how to begin a thoughtful approach that will, in time, identify future artistic leadership for the Theatre.”

As founding director of the A.R.T., and previously of the Yale Repertory Theatre, Brustein has supervised well over 200 productions, acting in eight and directing 12, including his own adaptations of The Father, Ghosts, The Changeling, The Master Builder, and a trilogy of Pirandello works — Six Characters in Search of an Author, Right You Are (If You Think You Are), and Tonight We Improvise. He is the author of 12 books on theater and society, the latest of which is Cultural Calisthenics: Writings on Race, Politics, and Theatre. He has received the Elliot Norton Award for professional excellence in Boston theater and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

Orchard has been managing director of the A.R.T. and of the Loeb Drama Center for the past two decades. Previously, he was managing director of the Yale Repertory Theatre. At the A.R.T., he has administered over 140 productions, including 81 world and American premieres, as well as tours to 82 cities in 15 countries. In recent years, he has been active in facilitating exchanges, leading seminars, and advising on public policy with theater professionals and government officials in the former Soviet Union. He has served as chairman of the Theatre Panel at the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a member of the boards and executive committees of the American Arts Alliance and the Theatre Communications Group.