Sullivan, who directed the current Pearl production of Twelfth Night, was appointed by the Pearl's board of trustees to assume the role previously filled by Shepard Sobel. Sullivan will begin his role as Pearl artistic director effective Aug. 1.
Sobel and his wife, Pearl resident acting company member Joanne Camp, established the Pearl in 1984. The couple are vacating their positions to move closer to family in New Mexico.
"It has been our goal to nurture the finest resident company of actors in America," Sobel said in a statement. "We founded The Pearl because we felt a great need in New York for an acting company capable of addressing the myriad demands of a classical repertory. Because of our enthusiastic confidence in Jim, we are able to leave with full and happy hearts."
J.R. Sullivan also serves as the associate artistic director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival. In addition to founding Illinois' New American Theater in 1972, Sullivan has staged productions for the American Players Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Northlight and the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.
Pearl board of trustees chair, Allison Cooke Kellogg, said in a statement, "We are delighted that we have found someone with Jim Sullivan's talent, experience and dedication to classical theatre to succeed Shepard Sobel, our founding artistic director. Shep brought The Pearl and its resident acting company to life 25 years ago and, together with his wife, actress Joanne Camp, has carefully nurtured it into the pre-eminent classical repertory theatre in New York City. We are profoundly grateful to Shep and Joanne for their vision, dedication and fortitude in building The Pearl and look forward to working with Jim to bring The Pearl’s legacy to new audiences." The Pearl Theatre Company is located at 80 St. Marks Place (at First Avenue) in the East Village. For more information visit www.pearltheatre.org.