Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

November 30, 2010

Brock leaves KRT for academia

HORSE CAVE — Kentucky Repertory Theatre’s long-time artistic director Robert Brock is leaving.

Brock, who has been with the theater for 13 years, first as an actor, then as education director and finally as artistic director, will be ending his relationship with Kentucky Rep at the end of the year to take a position at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, where he will help establish a drama department.

“The Kentucky Repertory Theatre has been fortunate to have benefited from the artistic talent and vision of Robert Brock. I wish him well as he takes on the challenge of creating a drama department at Lindsey Wilson College,” said Kelly Mark Easton, president of the theater’s board of directors. “KRT will be seeking an executive director as well as a new artistic director as we move forward with planning for our next season.”

Brock’s contract with Kentucky Rep does not expire until Feb. 28, 2011.

“While Mr. Brock will be taking over his duties with Lindsey Wilson in January, he has offered to be of continuing assistance to KRT. He will remain for the rest of the season, which at this point is “A Christmas Story,” the wonderful Red Rider BB gun story familiar to all. This great show runs until Dec. 19,” Easton said.

Brock took over leadership of Kentucky Rep in 2002 when founding director Wamen Hammack retired after serving 25 years as artistic director. During his tenure at the theater, Brock oversaw 86 productions, directing 62 of them himself, including two performances of “Love Letters” — the first one starring Brock and Annie Potts from “Designing Women” fame and the second one starring Sally Struthers and Mike Gallagher, which toured Hopkinsville, Elizabethtown, Somerset and Bowling Green, according to a press release from the theater.

In a telephone interview Monday, Brock said his decision to leave Kentucky Rep “has been coming for a while.”

“I announced it to the board in September,” he said.

After 13 seasons at Kentucky Rep, Brock said he was ready for a change and the opportunity at Lindsey Wilson just happened to be available.

“It’s actually something I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve sort of done that before,” he said. “I taught at Transylvania University in their theater department part-time and I’m at Western part-time.”

Brock said his decision to leave Kentucky Rep was “not a radial shift.”

“Horse Cave was a privilege and an honor, and I feel like we did an awful lot of good work there,” he said.

The two things during his tenure at Kentucky Rep that make him the proudest is the expansion of the theater’s education program and the development of the theater’s Young Performers group, which began in 1999.

“I think the thing I will miss the most is the Young Performers,” he said.

Leaving Kentucky Rep was not a hard decision for him to make.

“I love that theater. I put a lot of my soul into it, but things run their course,” he said.

The theater has suffered a financial shortfall for the past two years. Brock said operating the theater during that time has been “a daily struggle to stay above water that wears on you.”

“I reached this point that [it] was enough,” he said. “The fun goes out of it. You get in danger of losing the standard of quality.”

Easton pointed out  that all arts organizations have challenges in maintaining themselves and that Kentucky Rep was no exception.

“This challenge increases in difficulty in tough economic times. KRT continues to seek funding with grant applications and by other means, and we are looking forward to continuing the 35 years of excellent work for years to come,” he said.

Brock said he is excited about his new position at Lindsey Wilson. He will join Lindsey Wilson’s faculty in the spring, teaching playwrighting and acting, among other theater-related classes. He will also be directing the Lindsey Players, which is the college’s student acting group.

“He will also be working to develop a theater minor and hopefully that will blossom into a theater major over time,” said Bettie Starr, vice president of academic affairs for Lindsey Wilson, adding that the college is equally excited about Brock joining their faculty.

Brock says he will help Kentucky Rep with the transition in any way he can.

Kentucky Rep has already begun its search for a replacement for Brock.

“We have decided to hire first a new executive director. With that person’s input, we will seek the next artistic director. We are just starting the process of advertising for the first position. Our search will not be limited to local candidates,” Easton said.

Brock said he thinks “it’s all around a good thing and I wish the theater well.”

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