Hanna’s extensive work within the theatre industry has significantly focused on creating new plays and programming for multigenerational audiences. Previously he has served as the Interim Artistic Director at Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Community Programs Manager at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Education Coordinator at Penumbra Theatre Company.
“I am thrilled to join the vibrant artistic community in Indianapolis. IRT creates thought-provoking new work and brings exceptional local and national artists together to create superior theatre in the heart of Indiana,” said Hanna. “With an astounding 40 percent of the IRT audience under the age of 18, I look forward to strengthening relationships with Indiana educators and families.”
Hanna will work closely with IRT’s Executive Artistic Director, Janet Allen, on season selection, casting, strategic planning and community outreach. Additionally, he will direct each season, beginning in FY17-18 with IRT’s Exploring Stages production and oversee the content and execution of classes, Conservatory and youth and adult education outreach initiatives.
“We are very excited to welcome Ben to the IRT. His expertise and leadership in the arts community, specifically with Theatre for Young Audiences, is well known by our theatre peers,” said Allen. “I’m confident that his experience and passion will help move us forward as we expand our opportunities for adults and children and continue to serve as Indiana’s largest regional theatre.”
Hanna will begin his new role in mid-September, just in time for the season opener The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
“I believe that theatre is a place for communities to share stories and connect neighbors through dialogue,” said Hanna. “In a political climate that often separates us, attending the theatre offers space for reflection and shared empathy. I hope to continue the legacy of making IRT a welcoming home for every community member.”
ABOUT BENJAMIN HANNA, ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Ben is a director, new play developer, educator, and community engagement specialist whose passion for multigenerational theatre has influenced his work across the country with companies such as Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Steppingstone Theatre, and the Bay Area Children’s Theatre. In all of his myriad roles, Ben is guided by the belief that access to high-quality theatre helps build creative, empathetic people and healthy communities.
Ben is thrilled to begin his first year on the leadership team at Indiana Repertory Theatre. He joins IRT following the completion of a prestigious 18-month Theatre Communications Group Leadership University Award. This highly competitive grant, administered by TCG and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supported his artistic associate position at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, the nation’s largest theatre for young audiences. During his tenure at CTC, Ben directed in-house productions and took shows across the globe, as far afield as South Africa; he played a key role in fundraising, management, education, and strategic planning processes; and he helped guide the organization in addressing historical inequities and ensuring that the company’s work reflected the diversity of the local community.
Prior to his role at CTC, Ben spent five years in California’s Bay Area, dividing his time between Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Bay Area Children’s Theatre. At Berkeley Rep he created innovative community engagement programs to build and diversify audiences, and he facilitated youth development and leadership through the company’s Teen Council and representation at national conferences. Celebrating the work of young artists, he produced five festivals of plays written, directed, designed, and performed by Bay Area teens. At the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, he served as a director and interim artistic director, developing three world premiere musicals adapted from children’s literature, creating a new student matinee program, and overseeing a successful move into a new theatre building and campus.
In his native Minnesota, Ben was privileged and honored to serve on the education staff of Penumbra Theatre Company, the nation’s leading African American theatre, where he helped to expand their education and outreach offerings. His proudest accomplishments during his four years with the company include growing the nationally recognized Summer Institute for Activist Artists into a three-year multidisciplinary social justice theatre training program, developing a multigenerational quilting circle, and helping to create and facilitate a racial equity training program through the company’s RACE workshop series.
Ben holds a degree in theatre arts from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He grew up on a small rural farm and fell in love with theatre at the age of eleven. He continues to create for his new favorite audience: his five nieces and nephews.