René Copeland

NASHVILLE, TN — In a joint statement, the Board of Directors of the Nashville Repertory Theatre and its Artistic Director René Copeland announced recently that a change in its leadership team would soon be forthcoming. Copeland will be stepping down as the artistic leader of the organization as the company closes its 34th season.

“René is an extraordinary artist who has dedicated her career to creating theatre in Nashville,” said Nashville Rep’s Board President Bonnie Dow. “Since joining the Rep in 2004, she has been at the helm of over 40 shows, including some of our most memorable productions.”

In addition to serving as its artistic director, Copeland also directed the majority of Nashville Rep’s productions over the last 15 years. Recent titles include A Raisin in the Sun, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Chicago, and the company’s record-breaking ten year run of A Christmas Story.

Her most recent endeavor was directing the premiere staged reading of Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl as part of the company’s Ingram New Works Festival. Throughout her tenure at the Rep, Copeland was repeatedly recognized by media as one of Tennessee’s top theatre artists, being named Best Stage Director by the Nashville Scene in 2007 and winning a First Night Award as Best Director in 2016. Copeland’s final work for the Rep was to plan its upcoming 35th anniversary season, including the musical comedy Urinetown, the contemporary drama Pipeline, and the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire.

Copeland’s departure comes as the company’s board is setting a new direction for Nashville Repertory Theatre.

“Nashville Rep is in its fourth decade of producing high quality, thought provoking theatre,” said Board President Dow. “We honor that history while also acknowledging that Nashville is a rapidly growing, rapidly changing city. We are committed to being a theatre fully engaged with our community and are excited about the changes ahead at Nashville Rep.”

The theatre has already announced some of its planned expansions, including a robust entry into arts education and youth programming as well as its return to TPAC’s Polk Theater. Dow indicated that audiences will see changes in its mainstage programming as well.

The organization will launch a national search for its new artistic leader later this year. In the interim, Managing Director Drew Ogle will oversee programming. He and Copeland are working closely together to ensure a smooth transition.

Ogle expressed his gratitude to Copeland.

“René recruited me to Nashville and this incredible company,” said Ogle. “I and everyone in the Nashville Rep family of artists wish her the very best of success as she debuts her next act.”

Since 1985, Nashville Repertory Theatre has been a critically acclaimed regional theater, creating the highest quality professional productions and serving as a cultural, educational, and economic resource in Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities. Nashville Rep produces work that is designed, built, and rehearsed in Nashville by highly skilled actors, designers, directors, and technicians. A non-profit theatre, Nashville Rep is committed to bringing classic and contemporary theatre to Nashville that inspires empathy and prods intellectual and emotional engagement in audiences.