ion theatre company
ion theatre company was founded by Executive Artistic Director Claudio Raygoza in 2004 with the audience-grabbing local debut of Paul Slabolepszy’s politically-charged apartheid tale, Saturday Night at the Palace. A few weeks later, the young company produced a widely hailed revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at the Lyceum Theater. In 2005, ion staged an environmental and hyper-charged Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, and in 2006, when Glenn Paris joined the troupe, an eagerly embraced string of productions ensued: Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape & Not I, Eugéne Ionesco’s absurdist farce, The Chairs, David Ives’ All in the Timing and an ambitious The NATion Project which engaged over 30 artists in a six-month period, earning accolades for the company’s theatrical exploration of American life during the Great Depression viewed through the lens of three theatre classics: Tennessee Williams’ searing memory play, The Glass Menagerie, John Steinbeck’s epic The Grapes of Wrath adapted by Frank Galati, and Clifford Odets’ profoundly moving saga of a Jewish family in 1930s The Bronx, Awake and Sing!. After renting various locales throughout the city, ion theatre entered an agreement in late 2007 to lease and convert a dance room in a tucked-away corner of Mission Valley into a small, experimental venue. Within two months of moving in, the company built a working theatre and launched its first full season in The Lab at the Academy of Performing Arts with a Genet-inspired world premiere about two Latino men trapped in a world of crime, Punks, and several other productions: The Pillowman, La Gaviota (A world premiere about a wealthy Veracruz family during the Mexican Revolution based on Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull), the word-less one woman show Request Programme, A Streetcar Named Desire, the West Coast Premiere of Neil LaBute’s In a Dark Dark House, bash: the latterday plays, U.S. Drag and The Trojan Women in addition to a year-long series of readings of plays by Henrik Ibsen that spanned the city, engaged new audiences and enlisted many of San Diego’s major artists. The company has added to its roster over the years: Mud, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Speed-the-Plow, Frozen, Bent, Hurlyburly, Back of the Throat, Elliot a Soldier’s Fugue, GAM3RS, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Parasite Drag, Song of Extinction, Jack Goes Boating, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Wonder Wounded Heroes & The Lieutenant of Inishmore. In 2009, ion was the first theatre invited into the newly remodeled Sushi Space in the East Village where they were given a two-show residency, followed by two productions at Diversionary Theatre, before the move into and transformation of the former Compass/6th@Penn in early 2010 – now BLKBOX – the company’s home base in Hillcrest. At the close of that first year, ion was awarded Producer of the Year by the San Diego Critic’s Circle for its contributions to San Diego theatre and for its artistic body of work in 2010. Since then, the company has added productions of The Woolgatherer, Chela, a remount of bash, the San Diego premiere of Grace and a major double-header: ion’s first musical, Gypsy, and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, both of which earned the company expanded audiences and recognition including the inaugural Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theatre. In 2012, ion remounted the award-winning Request Programme, the San Diego debuts of Blasted and Heddatron, and rounded out the season with a critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning production of Topdog/Underdog before launching a daring season 7 featuring 7 premieres – The Mystery Plays, Julia (winner, Outstanding Actress San Diego Critics Circle and nominee for Best New Play), the multiple award-winning production of The Little Flower of East Orange (including Outstanding Actor), Chicago: A Speakeasy Cabaret, Punk Rock, Grey Gardens (featuring a third-year-in-a-row Actor of the Year performance at ion), the multiple award-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, John Ball's In the Heat of the Night, and wrapping with an extended eight week run of the world premiere Ass, or a Midsummer Night's Fever – an immersive, disco-infused homage to A Midsummer Night's Dream. For Season 8, ion unleashed another 6 productions including the local premieres of Shining City (which earned nominations for Outstanding Direction of a Play – the seventh directing nomination for the company in 4 years – and Outstanding Actor), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (nomination for Outstanding Actor), reasons to be pretty, a revival of Bug, the west coast premiere of Edgar & Annabel and the local premiere of Far Away ending with the San Diego premiere of Passion. In early 2013, ion again earned the Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Work at a Small Theater (the second time in the three years since the award was inaugurated), this time for the company's Body of Work in 2013. ion is perched to announce an exciting line-up of productions in 2014/2105 beginning in the fall of 2014.
Fiercely dedicated to forging bold, vital, diverse new work from within its artistic membership, ion theatre company also nurtures powerful, provocative new plays from emerging playwrights, re-imagines classics using the lens of theatrical innovation and connects with new audiences by embracing technology while chronicling its evolving cultural and educational impact in the community.
Our vision statement declares: ion theatre company 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; that theatre should be inclusive and diverse—we do work that impacts many—we challenge ourselves to not exclude; that we insist on telling powerful, intense stories forged with artistic integrity, rich with theatrical magic, embracing of innovation in form and content and initiated with clarity of purpose; that 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.
Founder / Executive Artistic Director: Claudio Raygoza
Founding Producing Artistic Director: Glenn Paris
Co-founders: Trina Kaplan & Matt Scott
Founding Members: Jeffrey Jones, Linda Libby, Catalina Maynard, Sara Beth Morgan, Walter Ritter, Kim Strassburger & Morgan Trant.
Resident Members: Melanie Chen, Robin Christ, Karin Filijan, Yolanda Franklin, Evan Kendig, Mary Summerday & Karson St. John.
Founding Alumni Members
Laura Bozanich, Sylvia Enrique, Dana Hooley, Jennifer Jonassen, Andrew Kennedy, Jennifer Kozumplik, Steven Lone, Brian Mackey, Jon Sachs, Julie Sachs, Courtney Fox Smith & Rachael VanWormer.
Board of Trustees
Board Chair: Gail Ebner
Executive Board Members: Julie Ustin, Rod Coon, Denise Bevers.