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Suzanne E. Beal and Joseph W. Ritsch Named New Co-Producing Artistic Directors of Rep Stage

July 2, 2013

A past vice president of Frederick Community College and the associate artistic director of Baltimore’s Iron Crow Theatre Company combine their considerable talents to take over the artistic helm of Rep Stage

(Columbia, MD) — Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), has announced the naming of Suzanne E. Beal and Joseph W. Ritsch as the theatre’s new co-producing artistic directors.

“We are absolutely thrilled about this pairing,” says Valerie Lash, the college’s dean of arts and humanities and Rep Stage’s founding artistic director. “With their combined expertise and experience, we’re confident that Suzanne and Joseph will form a strong artistic team, lead Rep Stage into a new season, and continue to bring Rep Stage’s brand of theatre to the community.”

Suzanne E. Beal comes to Rep Stage with a unique blend of experience in theatre and higher education administration and instruction. An accomplished director and playwright, she is currently the board chair of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick, where she is also an associate artist and resident director. Ms. Beal recently retired as the vice president of learning at Frederick Community College, where she was also a professor of English. She has also taught theatre history and dramatic literature courses at Hood College.

Joseph W. Ritsch is also a theatre educator and artistic administrator. A director, performer, playwright, and choreographer, he is the co-founder of Iron Crow Theatre Company in Baltimore, where he also served as associate artistic director. He is a principal ensemble member with New York’s Jane Comfort and Company, one of the industry’s premier movement theatre ensembles. Mr. Ritsch is also a 2010 WordBRIDGE playwriting fellow.

Ms. Beal and Mr. Ritsch will replace Michael Stebbins, who stepped down as Rep Stage’s artistic director in May after nearly eight seasons.

Meet the Artistic Directors

Suzanne E. Beal has directed numerous productions in the Baltimore-Washington area over a period of twenty years, including “Picnic,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Lark,” “Crimes of the Heart,” “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little,” and for Rep Stage, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Agnes of God,” and “Dancing at Lughnasa.” She has also directed productions of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “Julius Caesar,” and “The Merchant of Venice.” Since moving to Frederick, Suzanne has worked with the Maryland Ensemble Theatre (MET), having directed four MET productions: “Independence, The Women of Lockerbie,” “How I Learned to Drive,” “Finally Heard: Feminine Heroes of an Uncivil War,” and “The Santaland Diaries.” Ms. Beal also wrote and directed “I Am (Not) My Mother,” which went on to be produced at The Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia. In 2010, she wrote and directed “Passion and Perseverance: Nobel Women in Science.” She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland, with a specialty in modern American drama.

Joseph W. Ritsch relocated to Baltimore from New York in 2008 to pursue his MFA in Theatre at Towson University, which he obtained in 2011. He holds a BA in Theater and Dance from The School of Performing Arts at the University of Maine, and completed his initial graduate studies in acting at the Professional Program at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Mr. Ritsch is a principal ensemble member with Jane Comfort and Company, and has performed at The Joyce Theatre in New York City and toured the U.S. on several national tours as well as a tour to Paris, France. He received critical acclaim for his work with Jane Comfort and Company in both the Village Voice and the New York Times for his multiple roles in “S/He” and for the title role of Macbeth in “Cliff Notes Macbeth.” In 2010 he co-founded Iron Crow Theatre Company with Steven Satta-Fleming and has been acting associate artistic director. With Iron Crow, Joseph has portrayed Amanda Wingvalley in “For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls,” Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and Richard in “A Soldier Dreams.” Mr. Ritsch’s play about the Jeffrey Dahmer murders, “Apartment 213,” was part of the Iron Crow 2010-2011 season and was named by City Paper as one of Baltimore’s “Top 10 Productions.” The project was developed at the prestigious WordBRIDGE Playwrights Lab and had its New York City debut as a part of the Modicums Theatre Festival of New Work. A revised version of “Apartment 213” will open Iron Crow’s 2013-2014 Season. As a director his work with Iron Crow includes the critically acclaimed production of “Love and Human Remains,” “Bad Panda,” “I Want To Be A Gay Icon,” and the staged reading of “8.” He has also served as director, associate director, and choreographer in productions for Everyman Theatre, CENTERSTAGE, and Towson University.

About Rep Stage
Rep Stage, a professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College, is beginning its 21st season.  The company is a member of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, the League of Washington Theatres, and the Theatre Communications Group. Rep Stage is recognized by Theatre Washington as a professional DC Metro area theater company.  Performances are made possible by the Howard County Arts Council, the Howard County Government, and the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as through generous individual contributions.  Howard Bank is the Rep Stage 2013-14 season partner.