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Marc Masterson brings new possibilities as SCR leader

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Marc Masterson now occupies a corner office at South Coast Repertory as its new artistic director. But the former occupant, co-founder David Emmes, has simply moved one door down.

Emmes and the other founding director, Martin Benson, still have a voice in what happens at Orange County’s flagship theater company, which they ran together from 1964 until Masterson came on board in June after nearly 11 years as artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. But the final word on artistic decisions is supposed to be Masterson’s alone.

The word, for now, is gradualism — this succession was carefully planned to bring evolution, not eruptions. Picking the new season that’s about to begin was a cooperative effort by the new man and his two predecessors; after this, Masterson alone will have the final say.

Going by his track record in Kentucky, where the job included choosing and overseeing the annual Humana Festival of New American plays, the Masterson era in Costa Mesa doesn’t figure to be a simple continuation. His Louisville programming included documentary plays, hip-hop theater and shows by adventurous touring ensembles such as New York’s SITI Company — any of which would be a new development for South Coast.

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Read the Arts & Book profile about Masterson’s settling-in period in Costa Mesa and what may lie ahead.

Southern California audiences will start getting an idea of his artistic approach in January, when he directs “Elemeno Pea,” a play about the gulf between rich Americans and everyone else. It premiered during the 2011 Humana Festival, near the end of his watch in Louisville.

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Marc Masterson set to make the calls at South Coast Repertory

Some advice for South Coast Repertory’s incoming leader

In for the long haul

— Mike Boehm


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