Chicago Theatre Names Successor for Director Who Died in Car Crash

News   Chicago Theatre Names Successor for Director Who Died in Car Crash
Chicago's innovative American Theater Company has named Will Davis, a New York-based director and choreographer, as its permanent new artistic director, effective immediately. He succeeds P.J. Paparelli, who died May 21, 2015, of injuries suffered in a car crash in Scotland, where he was vacationing.

As noted by the Chicago Tribune, Davis will be one of the very few transgender creative leaders of significant American arts institutions.

Davis is known for physically adventurous new works, including the recently announced Off-Broadway run of Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men on Boats (a co-production of Playwrights Horizons and Clubbed Thumb), and two past productions of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker, for which Davis won a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding direction.

Will Davis
Will Davis

Bonnie Metzgar, who has served as interim artistic director since Paparelli's death, will collaborate with Davis to finalize plans for the company’s 2016-17 season.

ATC Board President Art Cunningham issued a statement saying, "After a thorough and thoughtful national search, I'm extremely thrilled to welcome Will to ATC and the Chicago theater community. His passion, artistic excellence and creative vision align perfectly with our goal of producing cutting-edge work that both challenges and entertains. We're very fortunate to have someone of Will's caliber drive ATC forward and build upon our artistic and educational achievements."

Paparelli was 40 when he died. During Paparelli's seven-year tenure, ATC took risks with documentary-style plays including Columbinus (about the Columbine High School shootings) and “The Project(s)," along with the world premiere of Ayad Akhtar's controversial Disgraced, which won the Pulitzer Prize and moved to Broadway where it was nominated for a 2015 Tony Award as Best Play. Metzgar, a playwright, director, producer and former artistic director of About Face Theatre, had an ongoing relationship with ATC. Earlier this season she directed ATC's Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith.

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