Jere Lee Hodgin will continue to work for Mill Mountain Theatre for the 2005-06 season.
...Jere Lee Hodgin
announced Tuesday he's
stepping down as producing artistic director at Mill Mountain Theatre
, which he's
run for the past 19 years and the place he
describes as his
creative home. He's
giving the theater company significantly more than two weeks notice. Hodgin, 58, will continue to work as artistic director at MMT for the 2005-06 season, directing three shows and overseeing the hiring of cast and crew members, while also commuting to his new job as associate professor of performance at the University of Idaho and as artistic director for the Idaho Repertory Theatre.
After the MMT board of directors hires a new producing artistic director, Hodgin
will live in Idaho full time.
For the record: Hodgin's love of spuds has nothing to do with the move.He's
a low-carb guy. "Jere's looking for a way to spread his artistic wings a bit," said Randy Mayes, the theater's managing director.
...Hiring a new artistic producing director, Hodgin believes, will pump vitality into the theater company and give it a new vision.
, the move provides an opportunity to share his
experience with the next generation's artists as well as to have more time to work on acting, play writing and freelance directing.
He'll also be closer to his
two children, who both live on the West Coast. Hodgin
received the job offer about a week ago.He
told the staff Tuesday morning.
"Usually it's fairly easy for me to speak in public," he
said."This was the hardest thing to say."
loved the work, Hodgin
often found his
job all-consuming, particularly in recent years.During the 2003-04 season, Hodgin
stayed busy directing the grown-up play "The SantaLand Diaries" in the morning and "The Christmas Cup," a children's show, in the evenings.
Sitting on MMT's Waldron stage Tuesday afternoon, Hodgin
talked of how Eugene O'Neill forced himself to take breaks from writing because he
believed the human imagination required time to recharge."I'm looking for a little more lifestyle," he
said. Robert Caisley, assistant professor of theatre at the University of Idaho, had worked with Hodgin twice on the Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works.
said, perfectly fit the bill of what they were looking for. Hodgin
guided Mill Mountain
with its transition from a summer stock company to a year-round professional theater in the mid-1980s.He's
produced more than 200 shows and directed more than 150 plays, operas and musicals.In 1987, he
established the Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works, which stages new plays by artists such as Caisley.He's
written and adapted a number of plays.In 1999, he
was named Roanoke's Citizen of the Year. Mill Mountain Theatre
has struggled financially in the past several years.Hodgin
told the board he
planned to look for a job two years ago, but promised not to leave until the financial crisis passed.
"I think things are stable now," Hodgin
said. Mill Mountain
made a good fit for Hodgin
likes knowing the audience who see his
shows.Long ago, he
decided that he
didn't want to be a New York theater bigwig.
The reason: the bag boy at Kroger
who stops Hodgin
to say his
class went to see "Hamlet" at MMT
and that he
hadn't realized Shakespeare could be so cool.
sits in the audience of a show to watch the faces of the audience members."I've had these great opportunities of magic," he