CALIFORNIA SHAKESPEARE THEATER ARTISTIC DIRECTOR ERIC TING TO DEPART AFTER SEVEN YEARS AT THE HELM
California Shakespeare Theater’s (Cal Shakes) Board of Directors announced that Artistic Director Eric Ting will depart the Bay Area non-profit theater organization following the conclusion of the 2022 season. The Board of Directors has formed a transition committee to begin the important work of overseeing the artistic leadership evolution.
“The pandemic shifted the circumstances of so many lives. Mine was no exception,” said Ting. “Amidst the move to remote work, my family relocated back to New York City; and as so many of our theaters now slowly return to the vital work of live and in-person performance, the time has come for me to step down so I can be with them full-time. There are so many individuals who have lifted up our work at Cal Shakes to extraordinary heights, but I want to especially recognize the efforts of Co-Board Presidents Kate Stechschulte and Tracey Walthall, and our incredible Managing Director Sarah Williams for helping to shepherd this theater through the tumult of the pandemic and all that’s to come.
Adds Ting: “The real testament to any endeavor is not how much you change a thing, but how much you are changed by it. I leave Cal Shakes reshaped by its artists, staff, board, community and civic partners, patrons and funders, and above all, our audiences who I’ve had the great honor of being in company with these past seven years. I’ve learned what it means to truly serve a community through art, to listen through complexity and resist urgency, to create spaces where we can exist in the glory of our full selves. And through it all, I’ve held close the unwavering faith in the power of stories to unite us not in our common experience, but in the strength of our differences.”
“We are forever indebted to Eric for his many years of service and his dedication to Cal Shakes and the community it serves,” said Cal Shakes Co-Board Presidents Kate Stechschulte and Tracey Walthall. “Throughout his tenure, Eric has been a fierce advocate of furthering the mission and values of Cal Shakes, and has played a critical role in elevating the organization to the global stage. We wish him continued success as he begins the next chapter in his career.”
“I am overflowing with gratitude that I had the opportunity to partner with Eric Ting these past three years,” said Cal Shakes Managing Director Sarah Williams. “Running a theater in a pandemic is no small feat, but it was made all the more bearable alongside Eric’s compassion, wisdom, grace, and care. Eric’s visionary leadership and unparalleled artistry has made a lasting impact on Cal Shakes and the Bay Area theater community. He inspires me—and so many others—to use the power of theater to challenge our preconceived notions so that we might imagine a more equitable world. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Eric’s incredible artistry on the stage and close out his tenure at Cal Shakes than with our production of Marcus Gardley’s Lear.”
Ting is a recognized Obie Award-winning director whose work has been seen around the country. His directorial debut at Cal Shakes was his provocative Brechtian production of Othello. The following season, Ting received overwhelming praise from the San Francisco Bay Area theater community for the regional premiere of Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, which featured a new score by local music legend Linda Tillery with Molly Holm and a significant rewrite that placed the action of the play in Gardley’s hometown of Oakland. The play was nominated for 12 Theatre Bay Area Awards and won seven, including Best Direction.
In 2018, inspired by the success of that production and with the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, Ting launched the New Classics Initiative built on the premise that for “the classics” to remain relevant in the modern era, these old stories needed to be told anew through the voices and experiences of artists who reflect our 21st Century society. Cal Shakes produced its first New Classic world premiere Quixote Nuevo, by Octavio Solis, directed by KJ Sanchez, and starring Emilio Delgado. This bilingual (Spanish/English) production that placed Cervantes’ errant knight on the Texas/Mexico border, became one of Cal Shakes’ most successful productions. Other highlights of Ting’s tenure include his acclaimed productions of Brecht’s Good Person of Szechwan adapted by Tony Kushner, and last summer’s The Winter’s Tale. Ting worked with Cal Shakes resident dramaturg Philippa Kelly to create War of the Roses, condensing Henry the VI parts I, II, and III and Richard III into an epic night of theater.
Throughout his time at Cal Shakes, Ting remained deeply committed to the development of new and diverse voices for the theater. His seasons were notable for featuring majority BIPOC (and largely Bay Area-based) directors, designers and actors. Under his leadership, Cal Shakes integrated community engagement with its productions, continued the organization’s EDI work, which, as Cal Shakes continues to deepen its learning and practice, now includes the principles of belonging and justice in support of a more anti-racist theater.
Ting’s final directorial endeavor as Artistic Director of Cal Shakes will be the world premiere of Lear, a modern verse translation of Shakespeare’s King Lear written by playwright and Oakland-native Marcus Gardley and codirected by Dawn Monique Williams. Previews begin September 7.