Get to Know our new Artistic Director Eric Ting

Eric Ting helps plant a tree at the Bruns to commemorate his arrival at Cal Shakes.

Eric Ting helps plant a tree at the Bruns to commemorate his arrival at Cal Shakes.

From cold sesame noodles to The Taming of the Shrew Eric Ting talks about what he loves, what he’s intrigued by, and what he’s most looking forward to when he arrives in the Bay Area.

Where are you from?

I was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, raised in Morgantown, West Virginia. My father was a geologist. He passed away between my junior and senior years of high school, which is why I ended up staying in Morgantown for college; to stay and help my mom who ran a Chinese restaurant for about 23 years. When she retired from the restaurant she turned the whole building into an arts complex with a ceramics studio and walk-in kiln, and a cafe where they exhibit art. She’s been a real inspiration to me.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing in the Bay Area? Other than joining the Cal Shakes team of course!

I’m looking forward to taking my daughter [the four-month old Frankie] to the ocean for the first time.

How did you originally get into theater?

Through puppetry. I was a biochem major at West Virginia University with minors in women’s studies and creative writing. I decided for my last year in school that I would only take classes that I would never ever think to take, and puppetry was one of them. Then I fell in love with it. Joanne Siegrist who was head of the puppetry program there at the time introduced me to all of the design faculty, because I had a visual arts background—I was a sculptor and a painter when I was younger—I ended up getting involved in all these other aspects of theater. I designed the lights for Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill and I was cast in a production of The Comedy of Errors that was directed by Harold Surratt, who is a graduate of A.C.T., and it just kept snowballing from there…

What is the directing accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I directed an adaptation of Macbeth at the Long Wharf that we called Macbeth 1969. It was controversial to say the least. At the time we were in the midst of bringing troops back from Iraq, and I was reading about PTSD and the experiences of soldiers coming home from the war, which Macbeth has all these allusions to. During our second workshop we brought a drama therapy group from a VA hospital to the theater and their responses to the reading… That was a very good moment.

What is your favorite Shakespeare play, and why?

I don’t know that I have a favorite Shakespeare play. I’m not coming here with a list of my top plays that I want to direct; I’m looking for plays that speak to who and where we are now. I love Richard II, Richard III, All’s Well. I love Midsummer. There’s a reason why it gets done all the time. It’s just really good. I’m super intrigued by The Taming of the Shrew. Partly because I don’t know how it lives in the moment today. It’s like throwing a gauntlet down for me when trying to understand how we would do a play like that when there is all this conversation around gender parity in this country. Is there a place for a play like this today? And how do we carve that place out for it? Oh, I love The Winter’s Tale. If there’s going to be something that defines my tenure here at Cal Shakes it will be the plays that I choose and the manner in which they speak vividly to the moment. I’m looking for ways to engage around these timeless works that simultaneously makes a case for: Why now? Why today? Why here?

If you were going to bring a picnic to Cal Shakes what would be in it?

It would have to be Chinese food! Cold sesame noodles, some steamed dumplings… There will definitely be some white rice. There might be some chicken curry… and maybe a Thai lime juice. So, not all Chinese. [laughs]

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Introducing our New Artistic Director Eric Ting

It is with great excitement that we announce our new Artistic Director Eric Ting. He comes to Cal Shakes after spending 11 years with the Long Wharf Theatre, eight of which were as the company’s Associate Artistic Director.  He is also an Obie Award-winning director who has been called “a magician” by The New Yorker magazine and “perhaps one of the most gifted young directors in our midst” by the Hartford Courant.

The announcement, by Cal Shakes Board President Jean Simpson, Managing Director Susie Falk, and Search Committee Chair Kate Stechschulte, caps an extensive seven-month nationwide search. Ting will serve as the fifth artistic director in the company’s history, succeeding outgoing Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, who completed his 16-year tenure with the opening of The Mystery of Irma Vep.

“I am profoundly honored to join this remarkable organization whose mission and programming both on and off its stage so thoroughly embody what I believe a theater can and must be today,” says Ting. “I’m inspired by the fearless scope of vision of my predecessor, Jonathan Moscone; and humbled by the collective commitment, faith, and trust given me by Jean, Kate, and the entire Cal Shakes Board. I can’t imagine a more passionate and devoted partner than Susie Falk; nor a more dynamic community of staff, artists, and audience to call my home; nor a more splendid cultural and civic landscape than the Bay Area; and that stage, that glorious backdrop, those hills, that sky, the stars! I’m eager to see what the future holds for Cal Shakes, and so very excited to be a part of it.”

Ting will make periodic visits to Cal Shakes between now and November 1, 2015, when he assumes his official duties as our Artistic Director. His wife Meiyin Wang—currently Co-Director of the Under the Radar Festival and the Devised Theater Initiative at the Public Theater as well as Curator of the Park Avenue Armory Artist-In-Residence program in New York City—and their new daughter, Frankie, will make their move from Brooklyn to the Bay Area in early 2016.

Read the press release, which includes Ting’s full bio here.

 

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