Russell will be replacing the company's founder and artistic director of ten years, Kristy Edmunds, who leaves to become artistic director of the artistic director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia — where she lives part-time with her partner and son.
"This is the perfect time: We can be transparent when things are good," said Edmunds (Jan. 2005) about her departure at a time when the company has proven fruitful. "We're turning 10. An institution reflects backwards and forwards at 10."
Russell will take charge of directing the annual Time-Based Art Festival for two years, beginning in 2006.
Russell became artistic director of P.S. 122 in 1983. Under Russell's guidance, the former school building complex became an Off-Off-Broadway institution presenting downtown acts and nurturing emerging and established artists and theatre companies.
Over the past two decades, monologuists such as Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray have chosen P.S. 122 as the place to develop their new pieces. The English talents Eddie Izzard and The Right Size (The Play What I Wrote) both presented early work at the First Avenue building, only to find themselves on Broadway a few seasons later. Richard Maxwell, the current darling of the below-14th-Street set, can be said to owe his career to Russell, who presented his Obie-winning play House in 1999.