National Endowment for the Arts Announces New Director of Theater and Musical Theater
July 12, 2006
The National Endowment for the Arts announced today it is appointing Bill O'Brien, managing director and producer with Deaf West Theater, as the agency's director of theater and musical theater. Among his new responsibilities, O'Brien will design and lead national leadership initiatives, develop partnerships to advance the theater field, recommend panelists, and manage the review process for theater and musical theatre applications. He will assume his new responsibilities in early September.
NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said, "Bill O'Brien's professional experience as an actor, producer, and musician as well as his strong administrative qualifications make him the ideal person to assume the directorship of the NEA's theater and musical theater department. We're delighted to have an artist of his caliber put his talents to work to help further the mission of the Arts Endowment in the discipline of theater."
Mr. O'Brien noted, "I am enormously grateful for having had the privilege to serve an outstanding organization like Deaf West for the last seven years and tremendously excited to now be given this rare opportunity to join the Endowment as its director of theater and musical theater."
Since 1999, O'Brien has been with Deaf West Theater in North Hollywood, California as managing director, producer, and producing director. In that capacity, he manages all elements of production, administration, and governmental relations for the theater that works to directly enrich the cultural lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals and to create, share, and support a legacy of deaf culture.
With Deaf West Theater, O'Brien has been one of the lead producers in co-productions with several theaters including The Roundabout Theatre Company (New York, NY) and the Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA) and has been instrumental in projects with Dallas Summer Musicals, the Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena, CA), Ford's Theatre (Washington, DC), Theater of the Stars (Atlanta, GA) and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (Columbus, OH) among others.
During his tenure at Deaf West Theatre, O'Brien received many awards and award nominations including Tony and Drama Desk nominations for "Best Revival of a Musical" for producing the Broadway run of Big River-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnat the Roundabout Theatre Company, two TheatreLA Ovation "Best Musical" awards for the Los Angeles runs of Big River and Oliver!, an Ovation Award for "Best Play" for A Streetcar Named Desire, and helped secure an LA Critics Circle Award for Deaf West for "Most Outstanding Season" for their 2000 series.
In addition, O'Brien has served as executive vice president on the executive board of the National Alliance for Music Theatre and as a task force member, conference speaker, and grant panelist with Theatre Communications Group, both national service organization for the theater and musical theater fields. His advocacy efforts on behalf of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act of the U.S. Department of Education helped garner Deaf West Theatre the Secretary of Health and Human Services Highest Recognition Award for "bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds through theatre."
He has performed in numerous national touring and regional productions and has written musical scores for three national tours and one independent film. He has also appeared on all seven years of the NBC television drama West Wing, as an ensemble actor. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication and theater arts with a minor in music from the University of Northern Iowa. His wife Amy and son Callahan will join him in Washington, D.C.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency