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Travis Preston to head CalArts theater school

July 28, 2010 |  5:27 pm

Preston The California Institute of the Arts has found a new leader for its theater school.

Travis Preston will take over the position of dean of the School of Theater on Aug. 1. He succeeds Erik Ehn, who left CalArts in 2009 to become the head of the graduate playwriting program at Brown University. In the most recent academic year, the CalArts theater school was led on an interim basis by Leslie Tamaribuchi and Ellen McCartney.

Preston has been associated with CalArts for more than 10 years. He came to the theater school in 1999 as head of the directing program. In 2003, he took on the role of director of performance programs and artistic director of the Center for New Performance.

He previously served as associated artist and resident director at the Yale Repertory Theatre and as an associate artist at Baltimore's Centerstage.

Outside academia, Preston has staged a variety of theatrical and opera productions. This fall -- concurrent with his first semester in his new CalArts role -- he will travel to London to direct the Almeida Theatre's production of Ibsen's "The Master Builder," starring Gemma Arterton and Stephen Dillane.

Preston has directed productions at RECAT in downtown L.A., including an offbeat interpretation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth," starring Dillane, in 2004, and a multimedia music piece titled "AH!" in 2009.

More recently, Preston brought to the stage "Brewsie and Willie," a play based on a novella by Gertrude Stein. The production, from CalArts and Poor Dog Group, plays at the 7th Floor Penthouse in downtown L.A. through Sunday.

-- David Ng

Photo: Travis Preston, shown teaching at CalArts' Coffeehouse Theater in 2007. Credit: Scott Groller