Chris Hanna (Artistic Director) has dedicated 30 years to balancing the overlapping missions of developing new plays, breathing fresh air into dramatic classics, and engaging communities in the power of live theater. He currently serves as Artistic Director of Virginia Stage Company and Associate Professor of Theatre at Old Dominion University. Career highlights before arriving in Virginia include serving as Resident Director at the Juilliard School, working with the play development staff of London’s Royal Court Theater, and eight seasons as Artistic Associate for the Chautauqua Theater Company in New York. He holds an MFA from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).Since moving to Virginia, Hanna has reset creative roadmaps for Virginia Stage Company and for theater study at Old Dominion. He has directed over thirty productions for the two institutions and has artistically guided nearly one hundred. His artistic motives have merged most succinctly with the VSC production of King Lear: The Storm at Home, which he wrote and directed. The play interwove Shakespeare’s text with community interviews to explore the ways our community handles aging. Chris was lucky in his early career to have been mentored by two leading pioneers in America’s non profit theater movement, Joseph Papp and Alan Schneider. He values his responsibility towards our theaters as they refine their purpose and potential in the coming century.
I will commit Virginia Stage Company to producing a rich mix of highly artistic drama, comedy and musicals, in order to connect individual audience members with a broader sense of human community.
Toward that end, I will work with the Managing Director to identify projects for production as they correspond to the following guidelines:
- All scripts selected must be of unquestioned artistic merit and address each of three key artistic strategies
A) Productions must provide an emotional pull that unites audience members. Participants should be taken away from their individual concerns and agendas to engage in a transporting group adventure.
B) Productions must require audiences to exercise their imaginations. It is only through a limbered connection to our childlike sense of “what if” that we can cross the barriers of circumstance, culture, and experience that separate us from our neighbors in the community.
C) Productions must reach out to a larger cross section of the community. This can be achieved as follows:
- Each individual production should have the potential to be promoted as a highlighted feature within Hampton Roads’ annual cultural calendar.
- All productions should be accessible and engaging to that cross section of the area’s educated public that is sincerely looking for a better appreciation of theater’s art and craft.
- The work on stage should reflect Hampton Roads’ powerful racial mix accurately, both in the worlds explored and in casting choices.
- The Company will regularly select scripts, on a production-by-production basis within a given season, from the following ongoing target areas
D) The Company must regularly produce plays that connect the audience to past cultures, relating the world immediately surrounding us to society’s ongoing search for identity, explanation and purpose.
E) Virginia Stage Company must regularly produce plays that provoke tough public discussion. A strong theatrical performance can act as a darkroom for exposing a community’s most threatening resentments and fears, providing the cathartic release necessary for healing to begin.
F) The Company’s artists will develop projects that assist Hampton Roads’ citizens as we define what is unique to our area’s culture and character. When completed, the Company will find opportunities to mount these productions beyond Hampton Roads, promoting the theater’s name and the area’s cultural identity both nationally and internationally.
G) The Company will select plays that are relevant to the general educational mission of Hampton Roads’ schools and universities.
- The Company will adhere to the following in choosing work for production:
1) Although audiences may well be offended by certain productions,(suggesting a vital emotional connection to the evening’s offering), the Company will not produce plays that employ undo vulgarity, blasphemy, or raw subject matter in ways that are gratuitous or not germane to the production.
2) Plays may have political or ideological agendas, but the Company will not produce plays that preach that agenda at the expense of rich character development and dramatic tension.
3) The Company will adhere to the above artistic criteria and strive to mount productions in a financially successful manner..
Play Submission Policy
VSC is unable to consider unsolicited manuscripts for production. Letters of inquiry regarding potential submissions should be directed to Patrick Mullins, Artistic Associate Director.
VSC holds local auditions annually. Information about our next auditions can be found in the Employment Information section of the website under About VSC.