The board of Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre Co. announced today that it has replaced artistic director Andrew Paul, who co-founded the company in 1997.
Paul and operations director Stephanie Riso led PICT from a start-up independent troupe to one of the city’s leading theater outfits. PICT was acclaimed for its renditions of classics from Shakespeare, Wilde, Beckett and Pinter to contemporary works by the likes of David Hare and Martin McDonagh.
Board president Gene O’Sullivan says the decision stemmed from Paul’s move, about two years ago, to Las Vegas, where he followed his wife after she landed a new job there.
For two seasons, Paul ran the company while living in Las Vegas, returning frequently, including to direct productions.
From a theater-goer’s perspective, the shows, in spaces at Pitt’s Stephen Foster Memorial, seemed to go off seamlessly; the boyish Paul himself remained a familiar presence, often introducing performances personally. He led annual theatrically themed trips for patrons to Ireland. And in a press release, O’Sullivan said, “We applaud Andrew Paul for the vision and leadership that have helped to establish PICT as a major part of the Pittsburgh theater scene.”
But, O’Sullivan said in a phone interview today, “The arts needs full-time support, year-round, in town.” Asked whether Paul’s absence affected the company’s fundraising or administration, O’Sullivan said the problem was “no one thing.” He did acknowledge that the company’s small staff — which has been down a development director for some months — felt the burden of Paul’s out-of-city residence.
“We really felt to move the company forward the way we want it to move forward” that they needed to let Paul go, said O’Sullivan.
PICT’s interim artistic directorship has been assumed by Alan Stanford, an acclaimed Irish actor and director who has worked with PICT regularly over the past few years. Stanford is a founder and past artistic director of Second Age Theatre Company, in Dublin, and an award-winning actor.
PICT’s 2013-14 season, crafted by Paul, will proceed as planned. It will open in April with the Pittsburgh premier of Our Class, a 2010 winner of Poland’s top literary prize. Paul was to direct that show; O’Sullivan said a replacement director will be named shortly.
Asked about a permanent replacement for Paul as artistic director, O’Sullivan said there is no timetable for filling the post, but added that Stanford would be in the running for the job.