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mission


“…Once again, ion shines a
piercing light on a dim corner
of society, a tightly focused
beam that deeply penetrates
…”
   
timesofsandiego.com

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mission


“…Once again, ion shines a
piercing light on a dim corner
of society, a tightly focused
beam that deeply penetrates
…”
   
timesofsandiego.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

 

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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membership


'Top Small Theatre in San Diego'

    san diego citybeat

 

membership


'Top Small Theatre in San Diego'

    san diego citybeat

 

Full company bios and details coming soon!



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leadership


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

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 five 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), Horton Foote, 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, Shining City (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.

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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

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. In 2013, ion once again earned the accolade -- for the second time since the award was created -- this time for its Body of Work in 2013.

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. Since then an ion member has continued to earn the accolade every year.

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.

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board of directors


“…ion theatre confirms its reputation
as the place to go for thoughtful,
contemporary work and a first peek
at local actors of large promise…”

north county times

board of directors


“…ion theatre confirms its reputation
as the place to go for thoughtful,
contemporary work and a first peek
at local actors of large promise…”

north county times

ion's current Board of Directors come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise. Thanks to their faith, passion and dedication, ion has evolved from a tiny charged particle to a glowing galaxy of excitement.
Check back here soon for their bios.

Board Chair
Gail S. Ebner
 

Members
Lynn Basquez
Carol Ann Flanagan
Clark Mires
Karen Quiñones

Julie Ustin

Emerita Member
Denise Bevers*

Board Chair Emeritus
Elaine Lipinsky

*(Immediate Past Chair)

 

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production history


“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? When ion theatre company is the force, the answer is transformation…”

performances magazine

production history


“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? When ion theatre company is the force, the answer is transformation…”

performances magazine

Check back soon for our updated full production history and archives.
For now, please enjoy the sampling and summary below.

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 PillowmanLa 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 ProgrammeA Streetcar Named Desire, the West Coast Premiere of Neil LaBute’s In a Dark Dark Housebash: the latterday playsU.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: MudThe Cripple of InishmaanSpeed-the-PlowFrozenBentHurlyburlyBack of the ThroatElliot a Soldier’s FugueGAM3RSFrankie & Johnny in the Clair de LuneParasite 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 WoolgathererChela (that traveled to the NYC Fringe Festival), 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 PlaysJulia (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 CabaretPunk RockGrey Gardens (featuring a third-year-in-a-row Actor of the Year performance at ion), the multiple award-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad ZooJohn 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.