00Jeannine Grizzard has served as Artistic Director for ACT since 2010. She moved to Ashland from her native Atlanta in 2006. After receiving a B.A. in Philosophy from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, she earned a Masters in English Drama from the University of Warwick, England in 1988 and then a second Masters in Philosophy in 2005 from GA State.
Her theatrical study includes professional drama schools in Connecticut, New York and London, as well as several years of exposure to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre by virtue of living in Stratford and London where she trained and provided text analysis to RSC actors.
In1990 she began her career at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre School, teaching “Acting Shakespeare: a Classical Foundation” for several years, based on her teaching text of the same name. Throughout the nineties she worked as an actress in Atlanta, and later as a theatre producer/director with her own company Swan Arts Productions and the professional touring company Georgia Mountain Theatre (which she co-founded and managed), serving approximately 70,000 student and adult audience members per year.
Notable productions in the ’90s include Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing, along with two children’s musicals which she wrote: Pinocchio: Tale of a Puppet and The Nightingale. Favorite acting roles include Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, Titania in Dream, E.M Ashford in Wit and Virginia Woolf in Patrick Garland’s adaptation of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. During her six years touring Garland’s play, Jeannine was the only actress, other than Eileen Atkins (the original star) with rights to perform this one woman-show.
Leaving theatre to care for her parents, Jeannine put her interest in philosophy to use by training as an interfaith pastoral counselor, and then serving as a volunteer chaplain at Northside Hospital, specializing in ICU and critical care counseling. After receiving her Masters, she worked as an Instructor, teaching Philosophy at Georgia Highlands College.
A visit to Ashland in ’05 prompted a move here in ’06. Jeannine joined the board of ACT after directing Ronald Harwood’s acclaimed Taking Sides in 2007 and 2008, serving first as Board President, and in 2010 becoming Producing Artistic Director. Procuring the Bellview Grange as ACT’s performance venue, Jeannine presented the company’s first full season in several years: Local Produce, Breaking the Code, Illyria: A Musical of Twelfth Night, and Larry’s Best Friend, along with four of the theatre’s five “Quarter Moon” readings.
Ashland Community Theatre, founded in 1991, had transformed into Ashland Contemporary Theatre to focus on new work and contemporary plays. 2011 continued much the same way with six productions and Evalyn Hansen joining the company to End Days and It’s Only a Play. “The Quarter Moon” readings became the annual “Moonlighting” readings of short plays by local writers.
In 2012, ACT moved to the Ashland Community Center downtown with a smaller season, including David Ives’ All in the Timing and a remount of A Room of One’s Own. 2013 premiered the door-busting run of Pompadour, a one-woman play starring Jeannine by Ashland playwright Molly Tinsley. And in 2014, ACT took its show on the road with the equally popular Freud’s Last Session, (with local judge Joe Charter as Freud) that was extended twice, with one weekend in Jacksonville.
2015 marked the 25th season of plays since ACT’s founding, and the company celebrated with Brian Friel’s Lovers and John Logan’s Broadway hit, RED, featuring Peter Alzado as the painter Mark Rothko. In all, Jeannine has produced over 25 of the 30 shows ACT has mounted since 2010. She also spearheaded the company’s growth in funding and infrastructure to facilitate the increase in productions.
ACT’s brand has also evolved to fill a unique niche in the offerings of the Rogue Valley, focusing on plays that address contemporary issues, significant historical biographies, new works, and masterly writing of the last forty years. A more complete list of the company’s plays is available here on the Production History page.