Calit2 at UC San Diego Names Director in Residence

San Diego, Feb. 5, 2010  -- Underscoring its interdisciplinary interest in technology and the arts, a high-tech research institute at the University of California, San Diego has selected one of the country’s leading theatrical directors to be its first Director in Residence.

Christopher Ashley

The UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) appointed Christopher Ashley, age 45, to the new position. Ashley holds the 2010 Quinn Martin Guest Chair in Directing in the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance, and he has served as La Jolla Playhouse’s Artistic Director since October 2007.

"Christopher has wonderful ideas about how to use new technology as a springboard for new ways to tell a story on stage," said Ramesh Rao, director of Calit2 at UC San Diego. "In the short run he will be using some of the visualization tools we develop at Calit2 in the staging of a new production. But we also expect that he will bring a fresh intellectual and cultural dimension to Calit2 that could lead to future collaborations between Calit2, UCSD’s Theatre and Dance department, and La Jolla Playhouse."

Funding from Calit2 will permit the purchase of high-definition displays to be used in Ashley’s forthcoming dramatic re-imagining of The Revenger’s Tragedy, a 17th century Jacobean revenge tragedy, attributed to English playwright Thomas Middleton. It is a melodramatic portrayal of unbridled lust, greed, ambition, corruption and violence in an Italian court. In Ashley’s revisionist revival, he recasts Middleton’s bloodlust melodrama into a television reality show for a TV-obsessed world, using technology to tell the story as it unravels on-stage and off.

“Theatre is, above all, a collaborative endeavor,” said Ashley, the Tony Award-nominated director whose most recent Broadway production, Memphis, played at La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. “I’m beyond thrilled to be able to collaborate with the astounding minds and forward-thinking vision of Calit2.”

The Revenger's Tragedy, directed by Calit2 Director in Residence Christopher Ashley, will run Feb. 11-20 in UC San Diego's Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.
At La Jolla Playhouse, Ashley most recently commissioned and directed Restoration by Claudia Shear. Also during his tenure, he has directed the acclaimed musicals Xanadu and Memphis (which opened on Broadway October 2009), spearheaded the Resident Theatre program and helped develop the EDGE series. Broadway credits: Xanadu (Tony nomination), All Shook Up and The Rocky Horror Show (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations). Off-Broadway: Blown Sideways Through Life, Jeffrey (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards), The Night Hank Williams Died, Fires in the Mirror (Lucille Lortel Award), among others. Regional: Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration), They All Laughed and Lucky in the Rain (Goodspeed Musicals) and Without Walls (Mark Taper Forum). Film/TV credits: Jeffrey, Blown Sideways Through Life for PBS’s American Playhouse. Mr. Ashley is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, the Drama League Director Fellowship and an NEA/TCG Director Fellowship.

“It goes without saying that we live with technology and accommodate to new tools in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Technology allows us to open up our stages to augment the imaginations of artists and audiences in an interactive event centered on human connections -- the very essence of theatre itself. To be given the opportunity to explore the parameters of this new territory with Calit2 opens up untold possibilities for storytelling in ways never experienced before. Via digital media technology, The Revenger’s Tragedy audiences will get up-close-and-personal with the characters’ most private thoughts as they scheme their way through to the top, or in some cases, the bottom.”

Christopher Ashley
“Christopher Ashley is one of the most exciting directors working in American Theatre today,” said Allyson Green, Chair of UC San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “Our Department and La Jolla Playhouse have a unique partnership developed over two decades for training the next generation of theatre artists. We are thrilled that Mr. Ashley will direct our talented students in a production that promises to be the highlight of our theatre season. We are also happy to develop a new partnership with Calit2, which provides an exciting model for collaborative efforts between science, art and technology. We hope that this will be the first of many new projects together.”

In the run-up to The Revenger’s Tragedy’s Feb. 11-20 run in The Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre at UC San Diego, Ashley and his team will work with Calit2 engineers to ensure that the technologies deployed on the Potiker stage will give theatre-goers a rare experience of looking at The Revenger’s Tragedy through the 21st century paradigm of reality TV – without losing the intimacy of the stage experience.

In addition to Christopher Ashley as Director, The Revenger’s Tragedy will feature the work of Scenic Designer Robert Tintoc, Costume Designer Sarah Cogan, Lighting Designer Steven Siercks, Sound Designer Alyssa Ishii, Digital Media Designer Ian Wallace, and Production Stage Manager Deirdre Rose Holland.

To purchase tickets for The Revenger’s Tragedy at the Potiker Theatre, go to or call (858) 534-4574. General Admission: $20; Students: $10; UCSD Affiliates/Seniors/Alums: $15.

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey, Calit2, 858-822-5825,; Carolyn Passeneau, UCSD Theatre & Dance, 858-822-3152,; Becky Biegelsen, La Jolla Playhouse, 858-550-1070 x 104,  

Related Links

The Revenger’s Tragedy Production
UC San Diego Theatre and Dance Department 
La Jolla Playhouse