Kahn Will Step Down as Head of Juilliard Drama to Focus on D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre

News   Kahn Will Step Down as Head of Juilliard Drama to Focus on D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre
Michael Kahn, director of The Juilliard School's Drama Division since 1992, will step down from that post effective at the end of the academic year, Juilliard announced.

Kahn has been a faculty member since the division's first season in 1968. He will continue to teach his third year acting class at Juilliard while maintaining his full time position as artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. At his resident Equity company, he will oversee the ongoing construction and completion of the company's new 800-seat theatre.

Juilliard president Joseph W. Polisi will chair a search for Kahn's successor. Polisi said in a statement, "Michael Kahn's extraordinary leadership of our Drama Division has allowed our young actors to acquire the requisite tools they will need as they work in the profession in the time ahead. With intelligence, taste, creativity and a deep understanding of the world of the theater, Michael's legacy will have a positive impact on the profession for many generations. My colleagues and I are very pleased that Michael will remain as an active member of the Juilliard community through his continuing teaching responsibilities at the School."

Created in 1968, the Juilliard Drama Division was shaped by its founders, John Houseman and Michel Saint-Denis, "to replicate the thorough acting education methods of European conservatories." The Juilliard Drama Division's accomplished alumni include Oscar, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, and Tony award winners such as Christine Baranski, Frances Conroy, Marcia Cross, Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Harris, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Laura Linney, Patty LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Sara Ramirez, Ving Rhames, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Whitford, Robin Williams, and numerous other well-known actors — as well as consistently-working actors who are not nationally known but contribute to the life of the American theatre.

Kahn is only the fifth director to have led the Drama Division. During Kahn’s tenure, in 1993, Juilliard added an advanced diploma in playwriting via the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. Among its alumni are Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn (Proof), Julia Cho (B.F.E.), Stephen Belber (The Laramie Project), Jessica Goldberg (Refuge), Julia Jordan (Boy), David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers, Rabbit Hole, Shrek), Kira Obolensky (Lobster Alice) and Adam Rapp (Stone Cold Dead Serious). In 1995, a program for directors was established.

As artistic director of Washington, DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company (which presents at its current Lansburgh Theatre), Kahn "will oversee the completion of the new 800-seat second stage, guiding the company's expansion into a national destination for classical theatre, and programming all other events at the umbrella organization, the Harman Center for the Arts." Dividing his time between Washington and New York, Kahn frequently directs productions at both his home institutions. He has directed on Broadway, in regional theatre, and for national opera companies.

Kahn said in a statement, "Juilliard has been one of my artistic homes throughout my theatrical career. I am grateful to the students and faculty for inspiring me and allowing me to grow both as a person and as an artist. Although I have determined that most of my energy and time needs to be concentrated now in Washington, I am more than pleased to remain on the faculty of this extraordinary institution."

This season marks the centennial of The Juilliard School that was founded in 1905 under the name Institute for Musical Art. In 1951, with its name already changed to Juilliard, the School added a Dance Division, preceding its 1968 addition of drama and becoming a constituent of Lincoln Center. In 1991, Juilliard added its first program in jazz performance.

Today, Juilliard has more than 800 dance, drama, and music students drawn from 43 states and 43 foreign countries. The school offers programs from the bachelor’s degree to the doctorate, as well as "highly selective and competitive diploma programs in jazz, opera, performance, string quartet, playwriting and theatre directing."

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