Barry Edelstein joins Old Globe as artistic director


By Diana Saenger

Barry Edelstein recently arrived at The Old Globe Theatre as its new artistic director, bringing with him a vast resume of professional accolades. He said he’s excited to be at The Globe, and expressed much enthusiasm about his upcoming projects at a meet-and-greet event with local theater critics.

The Globe’s board of directors announced the appointment of Edelstein on Oct. 17. A nationally-recognized director, producer, author and educator, Edelstein will steer San Diego’s flagship arts’ institution along with new Globe Managing Director Michael G. Murphy.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of what a tremendous treasure this area (Balboa Park) is, or to think of any place in the United States that rivals this square mile in terms of the various culture organizations and vitality of the mix of people here,” Edelstein said. “This is one of the small theaters in North America that programs the breadth of content that it does, specifically with Shakespeare in the middle of it. I’ve come to understand, in a deep and clear way, just what this institution means to this city and region.”

Edelstein has extensive links to New York City Shakespearean Theater, which include directing The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Initiative. His book, ”Thinking Shakespeare (called by New York Magazine “a must-read for actors”) was published in 2007, and his book “Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions,” was published in 2008. He was also associate producer of The Public’s 2012 Broadway production of “The Merchant of Venice,” starring Al Pacino.

Much of The Globe’s programming is in place for 2013 so Edelstein is already involved in those productions. His own lineup will not start until mid-2014. He will also oversee the Shakespeare festival program and a play that he will direct. He said he plans to draw marquee talent to those productions.

“I’m hoping to find some new ways to look at Shakespeare — not just outdoors, but have it more than once a year, put some (shows) back inside the theater or tour with it,” he said. “The world premiere musical of ‘ The Honeymooner’s ‘ is coming up at The Globe. We’re also working on new translations of European classics by American playwrights, such as the work I did with Steve Martin on ‘Underpants.’ I’d also like to recommit The Globe as a place to premiere new writing by important and emerging voices in the theater.”

Edelstein taught at The Juilliard School, NYU’s Graduate Acting Program and the University of Southern California. His other popular projects with notable actors include: “As You Like It” with Gwyneth Paltrow, “Julius Caesar” with Jeffrey Wright, “The Merchant of Venice” with Ron Leibman, a revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” and Molière’s “The Misanthrope” with Uma Thurman.

Acknowledging that institutions such as The Globe have to find room for all the various audiences, Edelstein said he’s open to working with other local theatrical companies and getting involved with local schools in their arts programs.

He said he’s also committed to forming a relationship with other cities, such as Los Angeles, where he already has connections, to lure prominent stage and film actors to work at The Globe. “I can say that The Old Globe will still be recognizable for what it is,” Edelstein said. “The mix may change a little bit, the orientation a little bit, but I believe it has an obligation to the city to reach as many of its constituencies as possible.”

Managing Director Michael G. Murphy said he’s delighted Edelstein is joining the staff. “His extraordinary background in contemporary plays, classics and Shakespeare, in addition to his commitment to the creation and development of new works, is a perfect match with The Globe’s history of theatrical tradition and artistic innovation,” Murphy said.