Emerson College is renaming one of Boston’s most distinctive stages in honor of theater visionary and ArtsEmerson founder Robert Orchard to celebrate an important milestone in the arts organization’s fundraising campaign.
The Paramount Mainstage at the Paramount Center will be christened the Robert J. Orchard Stage at a special World Alive! event to benefit ArtsEmerson’s World on Stage Fund on Thursday, October 6, in the Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre. The new name will officially take effect October 10, after the run of Gare St Lazare Ireland’s Here All Night.
“Rob has been a driving force in Boston’s theater scene since the late 1970s,” said ArtsEmerson Executive Director David Howse, “and we are honored to salute his vision and secure his legacy in two ways: first, by establishing the World on Stage Fund which, as it grows, will ensure ArtsEmerson’s ability to continue to present innovative international theater; and second, by renaming the Paramount Mainstage as the Robert J. Orchard Stage.”
ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage and Screen, founded by Orchard in 2010 to bring international productions and diverse theater companies to Boston audiences, has so far raised $3 million for the World on Stage Fund from new and loyal patrons committed to helping ArtsEmerson continue its mission.
Orchard, currently a creative consultant for ArtsEmerson, said he wanted residents of Greater Boston to be able to experience important dramatic work from around the world, and to make the city a magnet for international theater.
“I am enormously honored by this unnecessary, but deeply appreciated, gesture,” Orchard said of the renaming.
In addition to the its global focus, an important part of ArtsEmerson’s objective is to stage productions and reach out to audiences that reflect the city’s cultural diversity and changing demographics. And as the producing arm of Emerson College’s Office of the Arts, ArtsEmerson also requires that each company that produces on an Emerson stage provides an educational component to Emerson students, whether through offering clinics or backstage experience.
“As our city and our country become ever more diverse and increasingly international, it is more important than ever to come together in the magical space of live theater to connect around our shared humanity,” said P. Carl, co-artistic director, with David Dower, of ArtsEmerson.
Between Orchard’s arrival at Emerson in 2009 and his retirement in 2015, ArtsEmerson produced or presented 85 stage works from 13 countries, numerous international films, hosted workshops, and brought online theater platform HowlRound to the College.
Prior to joining Emerson, Orchard was founding managing director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) and the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training, and director of the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard University. During his tenure, A.R.T. earned the first Pulitzer Prize awarded to a play based on a production outside of New York; a special Tony Award; and, in 2003, was named by TIME Magazine as one of the top three theaters in the country.
In 2000, Orchard received the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, and a special citation last year “for bringing the world’s best theater to ArtsEmerson while nurturing the best of Boston theater” from the Boston Theatre Critics Association. Recently, he received the Moscow Art Theatre’s highest honor for distinguished service.
“Because of his enthusiasm for the arts and knowledge of the vast global theater landscape and emerging artists, he has brought extraordinary productions to Boston from around the world,” said President Lee Pelton.
The World Alive! event will be held Thursday, October 6, 6:00 pm, at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre in the Paramount Center. Tickets are $350 and include a cocktail reception, dinner, performance of Here All Night, and a post-show dessert reception with the cast. For information, visit artsemerson.org.