Norfolk's Virginia Stage Company names new artistic director
By Dan Duke
Photos by Raul Rubiera
September 16, 2016
The Virginia Stage Company has redrawn the top of its organizational chart and has hired a new leader, the artistic director of a North Carolina theater company.
Tom Quaintance will officially start as producing artistic director on Dec. 1, though he’s been getting to know the Virginia Stage Company staff and the region. Chris Hanna remains artistic director emeritus. The interim artistic director, Patrick Mullins, is staying on, according to Brad Tuggle, director of marketing.
For five years, Quaintance has been artistic director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, N.C., which is home to Fort Bragg. Its population of about 202,000, with a metro-area population of about 377,000, compares with Norfolk’s roughly 246,000 and Hampton Roads’ 1.7 million.
With his arrival, the stage company will have a single leader who will manage financial and artistic operations. Quaintance has degrees in economics and theater, a master’s degree in directing, and experience as a producer as well as a director.
He said Thursday that the Virginia Stage Company has been on his radar for a long time.
“I have a lot of friends who have done a lot work here,” he said.
He’s seen it as a place with first-class artists and facilities in an attractive region.
“Both my wife and I love the area,” he said, noting that they are house hunting for themselves and their two daughters.
He was an economics major who got involved in theater in college “because it was cool and it was a great way to meet girls,” he joked.
He found it so engaging that he stayed in college an extra semester to find out if he had to do it.
“It’s a difficult profession, and you should only get into it if you have to. And I had to.”
Quaintance said the Virginia Stage Company, a nonprofit theater that plays to about 70,000 people a year, faces financial challenges typical to all arts groups, but they are manageable.
He said community outreach will be a key ingredient to the theater’s success, and he’s already planning the 2017-18 season – “one tailored to this community.”
He also has worked as an associate artist with PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the Open Fist Theatre Company in Los Angeles, and was founder and artistic director of FreightTrain Shakespeare in Los Angeles.