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bold. uncompromising. theatre.


“…an essential cultural treasure…”
   
— signonsandiego.com

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bold. uncompromising. theatre.


“…an essential cultural treasure…”
   
— signonsandiego.com

MISSION

ion forges bold, uncompromising theater that investigates the fiery, passionate, resilient nucleus of the human condition.

We do this by fiercely nurturing visceral, challenging new plays, through a rigorous training of actors, directors and technical artists in a multi-disciplinary approach, and by engaging new audiences through the savvy interweaving of technology and unforgettable theater.

ion theatre company members in 2009. Pictured clockwise from L, Sara Beth Morgan, Sylvia Enrique, Matt Scott, Brian Mackey, Courtney Fox Smith, Karson St. John, Steven Lone, Dana Hooley, Jennifer Kozumplik, Claudio Raygoza, Glenn Paris, Trina Kaplan and Morgan Trant. Photo courtesy of Michael Spengler, M Studio La Jolla.

ion theatre company members in 2009. Pictured clockwise from L, Sara Beth Morgan, Sylvia Enrique, Matt Scott, Brian Mackey, Courtney Fox Smith, Karson St. John, Steven Lone, Dana Hooley, Jennifer Kozumplik, Claudio Raygoza, Glenn Paris, Trina Kaplan and Morgan Trant. Photo courtesy of Michael Spengler, M Studio La Jolla.

Company member Catalina Maynard as Señora Julia wins back-to-back Critics Circle awards. She won Best Featured Performance in 2011 for her multiple roles in Angels in America.

Powerful Premieres

ion theater has ushered in a variety of world premieres including Julia in 2012, written and directed by Founder/ Executive Artistic Director Claudio Raygoza, which earned a nomination as Best New Play and won the award for Lead Actress in a Play. In 2014/2015, ion will launch 5 world premieres.

The San Diego premiere of The Little Flower of East Orange by Stephen Adly Guirgis featured a highly lauded, multiple award-nominated and multiple award-winning ensemble of actors including company members Trina Kaplan and Yolanda Franklin with returning ion guest artist Diep Huynh.

Daring Debuts

In addition to dozens of local, regional and West Coast premieres, ion has debuted many promising new writers to San Diego including two recent Pulitzer-winners, Quiara Alegría Hudes and Annie Baker and recent nominees Gina Gionfriddo and Rajiv Joseph.

High-schooler (R) Matthew Alexander made his professional acting debut at ion in the 2010 San Diego premiere of Song of Extinction by E.M. Lewis. In 2012, he led the design team for the robots in Heddatron.

Exciting Benchmarks

In addition to making plays, ion blazes other trails — in 2012, the company engineered San Diego's first-ever robot actors in partnership with High Tech High School for the West Coast premiere of Heddatron by Elizabeth Meriwether.  

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who we are


“ion is san diego’s flagship for important, daring, disturbing theater, and for staging knockout shows on a stage no bigger than a two-car garage…”
— san diego reader

 

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who we are


“ion is san diego’s flagship for important, daring, disturbing theater, and for staging knockout shows on a stage no bigger than a two-car garage…”
— san diego reader

 

Vision

ion is committed to serving its community by reminding audiences that risk and ambition are components of artistic work as they should be part of our everyday lives; theatre should be inclusive and diverse — we do work that impacts many — we do not exclude; we insist on telling powerful, intense, meaningful stories forged with artistic integrity, rich with theatrical magic, embracing of innovation in form and content and initiated with clarity of purpose; we believe audiences should be startled and engaged by theatre, not patronized or preached to; and ultimately, that theatre is a crucible where tough ideas and human beings must cross paths so that we can best explore our multiple identities in a changing world.



ion members are among the most celebrated and in-demand artists in the region —  wherever they go, they insist on working 'out of the box' by challenging convention, practicing excellence, inspiring dialogue and embracing diversity. 

With nearly 70 productions to date, ion has stewarded many new plays and writers, nurtured dozens of acclaimed new and established artists and earned considerable recognition for sustained excellence.

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leadership


"...a go-to institution for top San Diego theater artists…”
   — u-t san diego

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leadership


"...a go-to institution for top San Diego theater artists…”
   — u-t san diego

Claudio Raygoza

Founder/Executive
Artistic Director

 
 

Mr. Raygoza has written, directed, produced, acted and/or designed nearly 70 productions for ion theatre including the penning of 4 world premieres and has earned multiple nominations and awards for acting, writing, producing and directing. In 2010, the San Diego Critics Circle Awarded him the rarely-bestowed Producer of the Year Award for a season of 'critically-acclaimed work.' He has worked regionally and internationally on over 150 professional productions over the last two decades, and in 2011, co-led ion theatre to the inaugural Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater for a multiple award-winning 20th Anniversary production of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika sanctioned by playwright and theater legend Tony Kushner. In 2013, he helped spearhead a second win (in three years) of the Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work for the company's theatrical Body of Work in 2013. He is currently the most consistently producing Latino Artistic Director (and only sole Latino founder of a professionally-operating, season-producing theater) in the San Diego region on the U.S. side of the U.S./Latin American border. Over the years, he has had the privilege of working on a multitude of special projects as a writer: The National Conference of Community and Justice and SDG&E's DiverCITY Works Theater where Mr. Raygoza spent over a year touring Southern California with 13 energetic and diverse high-school students writing and acting in plays surrounding hot-button teen issues; The Martin Luther King All-People's Breakfast where his tribute piece 'The Web' was performed by students in multiple years; and in 2001, the CCC commissioned him to write and act a piece about MLK, FDR and César Chávez that toured San Diego County schools with live music performed by legendary Chicano group, Los Alacranes. He has worked as an arts administrator and curriculum advisor for the second largest union high-school district in the State where he helped found the first Department of Visual and Performing Arts office overseeing, among other things, the district's largest ever needs-assessment survey in the arts, and helped launch and oversee a variety of initiatives including a national curriculum model for Mariachi music in alignment with state content standards and the PARTners in ARTS program which linked dozens of local arts organizations with student internships. He is a published author, has worked as a historical interpreter and arts liaison for Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and with the La Jolla Playhouse's Cops and Kids program and Playwright's Project. He has served on a variety of boards including Coronado School of the Arts, Hispanic Arts Theater and Common Ground Theater, the city's oldest African-American company — where he had the honor of working alongside one of his dearest mentors, Dr. Floyd Gaffney.  Mr. Raygoza has also spent the last decade working as a conflict-resolution trainer, translator, and diversity-issues advisor around the country and internationally for a multitude of organizations. Considering himself first and foremost a playwright, Mr. Raygoza also champions the training of new writers, actors, directors and designers who work in tandem to foster an arena of mutual respect around the issue of groundbreaking and diverse new work for the American Theater. He is an alumnus of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.

Glenn Paris

Founding Producing
Artistic Director

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Mr. Paris has acted, directed, produced and designed for the American theatre since he was twelve years old, when he fainted during a rehearsal of Peter Rabbit in Kindergarten.  His numerous projects range from Bertolt Brecht to Donna de Matteo to David Rabe to Franz Xaver Kroetz in venues such as the University of Oklahoma, Antioch College (the mothership in Yellow Springs, Ohio/BA Theatre), Image Theatre and Studio and Mettawee Theatre Company in New York, Carnegie Mellon University (MFA Directing), Los Angeles Theatre Center, and ion theatre.  He played Macheath in The Threepenny Opera at Antioch, where he directed Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard.  Upon taking his MFA, the great actor and teacher, Uta Hagen invited him to be the first artistic director of HB Playwrights Foundation in New York, succeeding founder Herbert Berghof.  There he worked with Saul Bellow, Pamela Blair and Donna McKechnie (of the original cast of A Chorus Line), Christine Lahti, Jack Lemmon, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Fritz Weaver.  From there, he created Recovering the Dark, staged at The Kitchen ('a leading incubator of new work in New York') and produced by his company Native Coast ('Spare England, for it is your native coast', Henry VI, Part II). A company committed to new writing, Native Coast also produced Two Women Write (for the theatre) at Tribeca Film Center and Second Coming by John Petrick at Bank Street Theatre, the current home of Labyrinth Theatre Company.  He migrated to San Diego after 9/11, and soon joined Claudio Raygoza to help build on the success of ion theatre. In 2010, the San Diego Critics Circle Awarded him the Producer of the Year Award for a season of 'critically-acclaimed work’, and in 2011, Paris co-led ion theatre to the inaugural Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater for a multiple award-winning 20th Anniversary production of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. In 2013, he helped spearhead a second win (in three years) of the Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work for the company's theatrical Body of Work in 2013. Selected Work: Acting: Mensch Meir (Theatreworks, Boston), The Chairs, The Little Flower of East Orange (ion). Directing: Hurlyburly (CMU & ion), Servant of Two Masters, A Hand of Bridge (CMU), Punks, Request Programme, The Woolgatherer, Grace, Punk Rock (ion). Writing and Directing: Recovering the Dark (The Kitchen, NYC); Producing: The Pillowman, Song of Extinction, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Angels in America (ion). Mr. Paris is also a fundraiser, and has contributed his services to a diversity of organizations ranging from New York City Mission Society to La Jolla Playhouse.  His is the recipient of numerous acting, directing and producing awards and fellowships.  Glenn was born a Pisces and the youngest of fours sons in Honolulu, HI. He is an MFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University, the oldest Theater School in the United States, and the first and only University Theater program in the United States to be endorsed/partnered with by the Tony Awards ©.

Kim Strassburger

Associate
Artistic Director

 
 

Ms. Strassburger is excited to continue a long collaboration with ion theatre as the new Associate Artistic Director. Directing credits at ion include Passion (San Diego Premiere); Grey Gardens  (San Diego Premiere); Gypsy with Claudio Raygoza (2012 Craig Noel Award Nomination); Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Best Director, 2011 San Diego CityBeat);  Other directing credits include Seascape with New Village Arts; Artistic Director of Playwrights in Process New Play Festival, Passion (concert) and Assassins (concert) with Cygnet Theatre; Romeo, Romeo, & Juliet with Vox Nova Theatre Company. Dramaturgy and acting credits include productions with ion theatre, Cygnet Theatre and North Coast Repertory Theatre. Kim recently studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and the Lincoln Center Theatre's Directors Lab. Kim also teaches acting at the Coronado School of the Arts.

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what we do


“ion theatre pulls no punches… [and] has become known for adventurous, often dark, reliably provocative work, as well as for introducing promising new theater artists (writers, actors and others) to San Diego… those feats have helped Ion make an impact on the local theater scene that belies the company’s small size…”
u-t san diego

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what we do


“ion theatre pulls no punches… [and] has become known for adventurous, often dark, reliably provocative work, as well as for introducing promising new theater artists (writers, actors and others) to San Diego… those feats have helped Ion make an impact on the local theater scene that belies the company’s small size…”
u-t san diego

POWERFUL, PROVOCATIVE PRODUCTIONS

Jessica John & Kevane La'Marr Coleman in Angels in America. Aside from a startling seven nominations including Outstanding Production, Direction & Ensemble, Angels won the first-ever Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater.

SUSTAINED ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE

Company member Linda Libby earned the San Diego Critics Circle 'Actor of the Year' Award for her role in the San Diego premiere of Grey Gardens. This was the third straight year in a row an ion artist earned the accolade since its creation in 2011.

INNOVATION & EXPLORATION

ion experiments with new stage technology and embraces the integration of theater and a new shared digital language. Film, immersive events, live projection, robotics, an online web series, live-theater-live-online streaming — ion explores boundaries in programming and form. In 2015, ion is working on merging theater with a live immersive adventure and a live theater/3-D animation musical. Above: the world premiere of Wonder Wounded Heroes by Gordon MacDonald Wachsman in 2011 utilized multiple forms of video.

TRAINING TOMORROW'S TRAILBLAZERS

Selected graduates of ion's first Actor Academy present their showcase work in July 2014 where they work to master multiple training techniques. In addition to voice, movement and basics in staging, they also immerse themselves in monologue work, approaches to cold readings, auditioning, deep script & text analysis, improvisation, dialect work and more. Professionals, working actors and beginning students mingle and inspire each other in weekly classes. Work/study scholarships are available to all.