Waterloo Community Playhouse Announces New Artistic Director

Matthew R. Kerns

WATERLOO, IA –- After Chuck Stilwill announced his planned retirement last fall, the WCP/BHCT board of directors immediately began searching for the right candidate to fill the director’s chair. Search committee members were tasked with reviewing applications that came from across the country and moving candidates through the interview process until the top two candidates were presented to the board of directors for a final decision. Monday night the board completed that process and selected Matthew R. Kerns as the new WCP artistic director.

Executive Director Constance Grimm supports the board’s decision, stating: “Matthew Kerns is a multi-talented artist with a vision that echoes what the board of directors has outlined for the future of the playhouse. He is committed to the use of his gifts to engage, entertain and energize our current audiences while building on our rich history to reach out to the community and discover new opportunities as well.”

Matthew Kerns joins WCP following an extensive national search with an impressive slate of candidates. Although candidates came from across the country, Matthew originates from the Midwest and has been working most recently in Cedar Rapids. Matthew says that he is thrilled beyond belief to join the family at WCP/BHCT. He is extremely honored and excited to be following in the footsteps of retiring WCP artistic director and theatrical veteran Charles Stilwill.

Matthew has had great success as a theatrical work maker. His work has been dubbed, “must see” by National Public Radio and “critics’ choice” by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He has directed a myriad of plays and musicals including: Noises Off, Kiss Me Kate, the Laramie Project, the Violet Hour, Cabaret, the Wiz, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and Little Shop of Horrors to name a few. His most recent creation is titled Gay Fantasia, a story of the last days of the Harvey Milk era and the first days of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Matthew holds an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University. He has been mentored and trained by Viewpoints co-creator Wendell Beavers, Richard Schnechner’s Performance Group Ensemble member Leeny Sack, Roy Hart Theatre Founding Ensemble member Saule Ryan, BMC certified instructor Erika Berland, Greg Pierotti of the Tectonic Theatre Project, and Fitzmaurice certified instructor Lorenzo Gonzalez-Fontes.

Matthew has worked with the following companies and organizations during his career: About Face Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, the BackStage Theatre Company (Founding Member), Theatre Cedar Rapids, the St. Louis Shakespeare Company, the Actors Academy for the Performing Arts, the Chicago Academy for the Arts, Sonoma Academy and Loyola University Chicago. In 2006, Matthew was a member of an award winning faculty that won national acclaim from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for excellence in arts and academics. He is also co-creator of the Salt House Collective, a performance art company based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Matthew Kerns is very excited to continue his artistic journey when he joins the Playhouse family in August of 2014. Current WCP artistic director, Charles Stilwill, will retire in mid-September after serving in his role for 44 years. A celebration is planned in his honor on Saturday, September 6, during the run of Steel Magnolias, Chuck’s final production as WCP artistic director. Matthew Kerns will make his debut at WCP/BHCT directing Seussical in December.

source: Waterloo Community Playhouse press release

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