Danville Native Is Longtime Actor, Educator, and Arts Administrator; Most Recently Served As Associate Producer and Director of Education and Outreach for PlayMakers Repertory Company at UNC
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – May 15, 2017 – The University of Virginia Department of Drama has announced the appointment of UVA alumna Jenny Wales as the new Artistic Director for Heritage Theatre Festival. The announcement was made by interim Heritage Artistic Director and Drama Department Chair Colleen Kelly at a reception to kick off the upcoming HTF season.
Wales, a Danville, Virginia native, is a 1998 graduate of the University of Virginia, and earned a Master’s Degree in acting from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival/University of Alabama. She has appeared in productions in New York and at regional theatres across the country. Wales relocated from New York to Chapel Hill, and in 2011 joined PlayMakers Repertory Company. As Associate Producer and Director of Education and Outreach, Wales played a key role in leading the organization during an unprecedented period of growth. Wales’ wide range of roles included producing six mainstage and three second stage productions each year, spearheading the acclaimed PRC2 series, which combines each performance with a post-show discussion, acting as the company’s casting director, leading successful major grant applications, participating in creative marketing efforts, and continuing to develop and expand PlayMakers’ award-winning education programs. Wales taught undergraduate and graduate drama classes while at the University of North Carolina, in addition to guest lecturing in departments including Political Science, African, African American and Diaspora Studies, Communication Studies, American Studies, Geography and Psychology and Neuroscience.
“We are so happy to welcome Jenny Wales back to Grounds and back to the Drama Department,” Kelly said. “Her keen artistic sensibilities, unique array of talents and unbridled enthusiasm make her the perfect candidate to lead Heritage into the future, and we all look forward to working with and supporting her in those efforts.”
“I am excited, humbled, and honored to have the opportunity to give back to and serve the University of Virginia community that has given me so much,” Wales said. “The University, and specifically the Drama Department, taught me so much about who I wanted to be as an artist, and clarified the importance of being a citizen scholar. I look forward to honoring the Heritage legacy by pioneering a new path for the future.”
The timing of the appointment, Wales said, only adds to her excitement. “There is a robust opportunity, with so much change happening across UVA, from the search for a new president to the arrival of Matthew McLendon as the Director of the Fralin Museum of Art and a soon-to-be announced new Director for the Charlottesville Symphony at UVA. This is a great time on the Grounds for us to reinvent, to find new partnerships, and to reimagine how we as artists intersect with the University and Charlottesville communities.”
The 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival season will open in the Ruth Caplin Theatre on June 23 with Middletown, playwright Will Eno’s flippant-yet-poignant look at the ways in which the residents of an American small town battle life’s absurdities as they strive to live “normal” lives. The season will continue with Woody Guthrie’s American Song, highlighting the life and songs of one of our nation’s most beloved and inspirational troubadours; Chapatti , the endearing tale of a late-in-life pair who discover unexpected second chances; Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, a madcap comedy whodunit in which five actors play over 40 characters; Steven Sondheim’s classic musical Company; and a special season ending treat courtesy of International Clown Hall of Fame member and the face of the Big Apple Circus Barry Lubin, who will reprise his beloved “Grandma” character for a riotous romp of a one-man-show!