Columbus joins company

Curt Columbus, the associate artistic director at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, has been appointed artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company.

He succeeds longtime theater head Oskar Eustis, who left the Providence, R.I., company last season to run the Public Theater in New York.

Columbus, 40, will take over officially in January and begin planning for the 2006-07 season for the theater’s two stages. His contract is for five years, said executive director Edgar Dobie.

Columbus called the work of Trinity Rep “unique” in American theater, citing its resident company of actors and its consortium with Brown U. that features faculty members such as Paula Vogel and Eugene Lee.

Columbus’ dual position includes chairing the Brown/Trinity Consortium’s graduate program in acting and directing.

“The resident company is one of the great gifts for the theater,” said Columbus, who intends to maintain it as part of the theater’s future, despite the national trend to downsize or eliminate resident companies. “It’s one of the tent pegs of the theater, and it would be foolish to kick out a tent peg,” he added.

Columbus teaches at the U. of Chicago and at DePaul U.

Columbus is also artistic director of Chicago Park District’s Theater on the Lake, which presents the best of the city’s theater productions for a return engagement in the summer. Prior to his five-year run at Steppenwolf, he was an associate artist at the city’s Victory Gardens Theater.

He’s also known for his translations and adaptations of major Russian works. Most recently he translated and adapted Chekhov’s four major works as well as “Crime and Punishment.”

At Steppenwolf, he has directed productions such as Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Studs Terkel’s “Division Street” and Lydia Stryk’s “The House of Lily.”

He also headed programming at Steppenwolf’s Garage Theater, a small space that hosts the work of other theater companies.

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