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San Jose Repertory Theatre: Wikis


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The Rep's theatre, with signs promoting its production of Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw.

The San Jose Repertory Theatre (or San Jose Rep, SJ Rep or, locally, just the Rep) was founded in 1980 by James P. Reber as the first resident professional theatre company in San Jose, California, and is currently the largest non-profit, professional theatre company in the South Bay. Artistic Director Timothy Near's vision of reaching the ethnically diverse San Jose population was highlighted by opening the newly built new home of the Rep with the West Coast premiere of Thunder Knocking on the Door by African American playwright Keith Glover, with a Rep-commissioned score by Michael Butler and local blues legend Chris Cain.

Like many organizations concerned by the humanitarian needs posed by the recent Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the Rep held a benefit performance February 14, 2005, with some of the proceeds going to victims of the disaster.



The Early Years of San Jose Rep San Jose Rep was founded by James P. Reber in 1980 (originally as San Jose Repertory Company). James Reber was born in Butte, Montana, but raised in Santa Clara Valley. He returned home after having been the first employee of the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival (now California Shakespeare Theatre in Orinda, California) as Business Manager and General Manager.

San Jose Rep was formed as San Jose’s first resident professional theatre (originally called San Jose Repertory Company), the Rep soon became the fastest growing regional theatre in the country. Mr. Reber led a group of young artists, technical and administrative staff, most of them Bay Area based. The Rep's opening production of Noel Coward's Private Lives was a great first step for the fledgling company. This "hit" was followed by three more plays in 1981 (including one directed by Tony Taccone before he was Artistic Director at Berkeley Rep).

Early support came from the City of San Jose's Fine Arts Commission, which provided funding and worked to help create a viable Board of Trustees. The first Board was led by Dr. Clayton Feldman, who was able to provide guidance for the young staff and helped recruit the future leadership of the Rep, including Attorney Phil Hammer, who succeeded Dr. Feldman. The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation provided a key early grant to help hire professional staff. Elaine Knoernschild joined the board in 1982 and became the third board president. Like most nonprofit theatres, the founding board members made success possible by their dedication and hard work.

Most notable among the Rep's early accomplishments was the fact that everyone was paid competitive wages, a commitment that Mr. Reber made for the company from its inception. David Lemos, a recent graduate of Santa Clara University, became the first production manage and eventually Artistic Director. Lemos and Reber negotiated with Actors Equity for early concessions and eventually to full Equity (Actors' Union) status. Artistically, San Jose Rep was a bit uneven, but given its age, many productions were surprisingly high quality and were given excellent critical notices and are still revered by patrons.

Among the more distinguished productions of the early Rep era were:

- A very popular WWII version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew directed by Anne McNaughton and featuring a dashing and 
  handsome young John Callahan, who later went on to a successful television career, as Petruchio. 
- A series of large productions done in collaboration with the San Jose Symphony, sponsored by Merrill Lynch and known as the 
  Merrill Lynch Great Performances. These were produced in the massive San Jose Center for Performing Arts and had very short runs. 
  The first was The Tempestwith music by Sibelius and the next was the only known production of Peter Shaffer's masterpiece, 
  Amadeus featuring Ray Birk as Salieri and a chorus of Opera San Jose singers who were particularly effective on Mozart's 
  Requiem. The music for both of the productions were conducted by George Cleave.
- A collaborative production of Emily Mann's Execution of Justice which told the story of the infamous slaying of San Francisco 
  Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by Supervisor Dan White. The production was produced by San Jose Rep, Berkeley 
  Repertory Theatre, and the Eureka Theatre. It premiered at the Montgomery theatre and later moved to Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Among the distinguished alumni of San Jose Rep's early years, all of whom were recruited by the young Artistic Director David Lemos, and played significant roles in launching the young company, are: James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director of New York City's unique Signature Theatre Company and currently Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard; James Bundy, artistic director of Yale Repertory Theater and dean of the prestigious Yale School of Drama; Elaine Avila, Associate Professor of Theatre Dramatic Writing at the University of New Mexico; beloved Fingerstyle Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter & Educator Stevie Coyle; Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland); and Kenneth Kelleher, Artistic Director of Pacific Repertory Theatre.

The Timothy Near Era The arrival of Timothy Near as Artistic Director in 1987 signaled a more focused commitment to produce plays that spoke to the city’s diverse community both directly or by inflection. The Rep achieved this with modernized versions of the classics, contemporary works and a commitment to developing new plays.[1]

In 1997 the company moved from the Montgomery Theatre into a new, purpose-built building in downtown San Jose. No longer restricted by space or required to share their venue with other organizations, the Rep was able to offer a wide range of programming, produced to high artistic and technical standards. Since moving to the new building, the Rep has commissioned several new works, and produced World premieres, U.S. premieres, and West Coast premieres.[1]

Current Leadership and Staff

  • Rick Lombardo, Artistic Director
  • Nick Nichols, Managing Director
  • Kirsten Brandt, Resident Director
  • Monika Churchill, Director of Development
  • Cecilia Clark, Director of Marketing
  • Bruce Elsperger, Artistic Associate/Casting Director
  • Christopher Morris, Production Manager
  • Karen Altree Piemme, Director of Outreach
  • Christa Stiner, Director of Finance
  • Leslie McGarry, Assistant Director of Development
  • Michael Mulhern, Associate Director of Operations
  • Jean Rivers, Controller
  • Erik Sunderman, Technical Director


The Rep runs all of its performances from the Sobrato Auditorium. The theater consists of three seating sections, seating 584 people.



  • Orchestra: 166 seats (Modified Thrust)
  • Front Orchestra: 56 seats (Proscenium)
  • Parterre: 197 seats
  • Balcony: 165 seats


Wheelchair and handicap access are available in the orchestra and balcony only. Assisted listening devices are available upon request. Slight variation in seating configuration may occur based on the needs of the show in performance. It is also possible to make the front orchestra slightly less intimate, configuring it with two rows instead of three, resulting in 41 seats rather than 56.

See also


  1. ^ a b The History of San Jose Rep, San Jose Repertory Theatre.

External links


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