Blake Robison to leave Round House at the end of the season

Blake Robison, who has served as Round House Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director for the past seven years, will leave at the end of the season, the theater announced yesterday.

Robison will take the helm as Artistic Director at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

Blake Robison (Photo: Clinton Brandhagen)

Robison’s signature innovation at Round House has been the adaptation of great books to the stage. This year, for example, Round House will feature plays based on ”Pride and Prejudice” and “The Odyssey,” and has recently closed a stage version of “Fahrenheit 451.” No word yet on whether Robison will duplicate this approach at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a two-time Tony Award winner: for its revival of Company in 2007 and the 2004 Regional Theatre Award.

“Blake has guided Round House Theatre through a series of milestones and solidified our position as an artistic force in the DC metro region,” said Sally Patterson, President of the theater’s Board of Trustees. “I have no doubt that Round House is stronger than ever, both artistically and organizationally. Blake has brought us the best actors, artisans, and directors and inspired a talented, generous, and dedicated staff and Board.”

“We’ve taken some chances together – producing more world premieres, commissioning local playwrights, carving out a more literary identity, and opening our facilities to a bunch of hungry and creative emerging artists,” Robison reminisced. “I’m confident that a new person will build on this foundation and take the organization to greater heights. During the coming year, it will be business as usual as I continue to direct, oversee Round House productions, and manage operations.”

During Robison’s tenure, Round House has produced six world premieres (The Book Club Play, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Alice, A Murder, A Mystery & A Marriage, and his own adaptation of Alice McDermott’s Charming Billy) and two American premieres (The Talented Mr. Ripley and Camille).

He also established Forum Theatre and Contradiction Dance as companies-in-residence at Round House Silver Spring and launched Round House’s “Kitchen” program to provide free rehearsal space to area artists. At the close of the last fiscal year, Round House had  an annual operating budget of $5.2 Million and no long-term debt.

Patterson announced that Round House will form a search committee to find Robison’s successor.

Comments

  1. David Musselman says:

    Camille was not the US premiere, although RHT initially said it was. But that translation/adaptation had been done here at Olney before Blake’s arrival. I think it was the last play Richard Bauer appeared in.

  2. Patrick L. says:

    If Mr. Robison duplicates his great books to the stage approach it will be the death of the Cincinnati Playhouse. While I thought Mr. Robison was a talented director and astute businessman it will be nice to see someone who has a slightly more exciting artistic vision. The literary to stage mission was and continues to be extremely boring. Tell us NEW stories. 

  3. Heather C says:

    @Patrick L. : While I agree that “Page to Stage” is often boring, it isn’t always, nor does it have to be. We (as a general audience) go to theater all the time to see shows that we know the details of. And even new shows are often built with new details on the same old construction, the same old themes.
    But you can tell “old” stories (or known stories) in a new way.
    Theater, being a very much alive and temporal thing, does not lend itself to exact reproductions of literary works, in my opinion. Film does that much better- if one feels the need to add pictures to the words written by the author of the book. But one of the reasons Page to Stage is appealing to so many artistic directors is that it can give the experience of a great piece of literature to an audience. Instead of illustrating it for the audience, it can envelop them in an experience.
    Look at Elevator Repair Service’s “Gatz” or “The Sun Also Rises” for examples of possibilities.
    To do that, though, I’m pretty sure you have to have support from your board and your donors to piss off a few people when the stage production is not an exact representation of the novel. If it is, it’s not good theater: it’s “staged literature”. But if the director is able to unhinge his/her production from the minutae of the novel and base the production on the book, but not BE the book, then I think you’ve got a good chance at telling an old story in a new way that is really attractive and exciting to the audience.

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