The Grove Shakespeare Festival announced Monday that Thomas F. Bradac, its founder and artistic director, will take a yearlong, "part-time" sabbatical to assume a full-time teaching post at Chapman College.
"I've spent 12 years at the Grove, and this just gives me a little time off," said Bradac, 43, who sought to minimize any perception that his departure could have a significant effect on the stability of Orange County's second-leading professional theater.
Bradac said that the sabbatical, which is to begin in September, would relieve him of administrative duties at the theater but that he would still be responsible for artistic decisions.
"Instead of working 80 hours a week, I'll be working 50," he said. "It just gives me an opportunity to change direction for a year."
Bradac's plan to scale back his involvement at the Grove follows other recent changes in the nonprofit theater's top management.
In February, Barbara G. Hammerman, 42, was named to the newly created post of executive vice president as a replacement for managing director Richard A. Stein, who left to head the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach. He had shared management of the Grove with Bradac since 1987.
Hammerman, whose responsibilities at the theater include financial administration, fund raising and marketing, took the post on the condition that it would be considered part-time and that she would be allowed to continue working at the Tustin-based Community Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, where she has been executive director since 1986.
Thus, the Grove will be administered by two executives who are--at least by contract--part-time employees. Hammerman said Monday that although she continues to work at the Jewish Federation, she puts in more than a full-time week at the Grove.
The Grove, which faces a perennial shortage of funds, is operating this year on a budget of about $700,000. It produces a six-play season from May through December at the outdoor, 550-seat Festival Amphitheatre and the indoor, 178-seat Gem Theatre. Its current production, at the amphitheater, is Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
Bradac said he hopes his position as associate professor at Chapman, where he will teach courses in directing and Shakespeare, "will evolve into a closer relationship between the college and the theater."