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Penobscot Theatre Company Announces New Artistic Director

Jonathan Berry – Chicago to Bangor

Penobscot Theatre Company is delighted to announce that Jonathan Berry will be the company’s next Artistic Director. Mr. Berry succeeds Bari Newport, and current Acting  Artistic Director Tricia Hobbs in the position. 

 “I am thrilled by the opportunity to lead Penobscot Theatre Company as it prepares to celebrate its 50th season,” Berry shared. “For the last 25 years, I’ve dedicated myself to the work of building community in Chicago through ensemble driven theatre. I look forward to supporting the existing foundation of PTC while expanding the work to better reflect our shifting perspectives and our changing world. I cannot wait to begin working with this remarkable staff and these incredible artists as we continue the conversation with the Penobscot Theatre Company community.”

A Chicago-based theater artist, Berry spent five years in the role of artistic producer at the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre under Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro as they expanded programing and endeavored to make the work at Steppenwolf more actively reflect the expanding diversity of Chicago. While at Steppenwolf he directed Lindiwe (Co-directed with Eric Simonson and featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo), The Children, You Got Older, Constellations, as well as The Crucible and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime for their Steppenwolf for Young Adults programHe is an ensemble member with both Steep Theatre and the Griffin Theatre and has been honored with numerous Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, as well as frequent representation on the end of year Top Ten lists of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times and Timeout Chicago. He won the Joseph Jefferson award for directing for his work on Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock.  

Board President Sundance Campbell shared, “Jonathan is an engaging leader who has a desire to produce work that resonates with the many diverse facets of the Bangor region. We are excited for him to share his vision with our audience, and to deepen the theatre’s relationship with the community.” 

 He joins Executive Director Jen Shepard as they embark on Penobscot Theatre Company’s 49th season and prepare for the upcoming 50th Anniversary. At this momentous time, Penobscot Theatre Company looks to celebrate their historic past while building towards a future that expands its audience, diversifies its programming, grows its educational offerings, and continues their commitment to inspiring a lifelong passion for the theatrical art form in the heart of Maine and beyond

Building off of the legacy of Penobscot Theatre Company’s recently departed founder, George Vafiadis and the significant growth of the theater under the leadership of Bari Newport, Berry and Shepard look forward to finding new ways to engage the Penobscot region with entertaining and challenging theatrical work.

During the interview process Berry shared that he felt called to be a part of a smaller community where there is more possibility for direct impact from the work. He looks forward to getting to know this audience and engaging in meaningful exchanges through the communal experience of theater. Growing up outside of Detroit, Michigan, he sees a connection between his childhood home and Bangor and looks forward to connecting with individuals who haven’t, traditionally, seen themselves in the work onstage.  “I see live theater as an opportunity for communion, a place where a legitimate exchange of ideas can occur”, Berry shared, “and I am so looking forward to creating those opportunities in Bangor.”  


Jonathan Berry- Full Bio:

JONATHAN BERRY is a director, producer and teacher from Chicago.  He spent five years as an Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and he remains a proud ensemble member of both Steep Theatre and Griffin Theatre. Steppenwolf directing credits include: Lindiwe (Co-directed with Eric Simonson and featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo), The Children, You Got Older, Constellations, and the SYA productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Crucible, and A Separate Peace.  Steep Theatre productions include: Paris, Red Rex, Earthquakes in London, Posh, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, The Knowledge, Festen, Moment, The Hollow Lands and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.  At Griffin, productions include: The North American premiers of Simon Stephens Punk Rock (Jeff award Director, Lead Actor, and Ensemble) Port, and On the Shore of the Wide World, as well as The Harvest, Winterset, Pocatello, Balm in Gilead, Golden Boy, The Burnt Part Boys, Spring Awakening Company, Picnic, Time and the Conways, Dead End, The Hostage and Journey’s End.  He directed the NY premiere of Andrew Hinderacker’s Suicide, Incorporated for The Roundabout.  His work has been honored with numerous Joseph Jefferson Award nominations, as well as frequent representation on the end of year Top Ten lists of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times and Timeout Chicago.  He won the Joseph Jefferson award for directing for his work on Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock.  

He served as Assistant Director for Anna D Shapiro’s Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This is our Youth.  At the Gift Theatre, he directed the world premieres of Andrew Hinderacker’s Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated. At the Goodman Theatre, he directed the New Stages productions of Martin Zimmerman’s The Solid Sand Below and Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s The World of Extreme Happiness. Other work includes: American Theatre Company;  Kill Floor, American Blues; Little Shop of Horrors and Sideman; Redtwist; Look Back in Anger  and Reverb, Chicago Dramatists:  I am Going to Change the World, Jackalope Theatre: The Casuals, Strawdog: Conversations on a Homecoming, Remy Bumppo: The Marriage of Figaro, Theatre Mir: The Sea and Caucasian Chalk Circle,  Lifeline Theater: The Piano Tuner (Afterdark award – Best ProductionHe pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University under the tutelage of Anna D. Shapiro.  He has taught acting, directing, and viewpoints at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois – Chicago, Vagabond School, Act One Studios, and Columbia College Chicago.  For 17 years he played an integral role in the esteemed ensemble training program The School at Steppenwolf, serving as director of the program from 2015-2019.