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Our History

Award-Winning, Critically Acclaimed

Southern Rep Theatre is a critically-acclaimed regional theatre company that produces bold, world-premieres, the best of Broadway and off-Broadway, and classic plays. 

Through our Mainstage Season, Lagniappe Series/new play development and “School to Stage Pipeline” of Arts Education and Professional Development Programs, Southern Rep entertains, educates, and engages audiences with accessible, high-quality productions.

After our founding in 1986 by playwright and scholar Dr. Rosary O’Neill, Southern Rep focused on original theatrical voices and producing work that reflected Southern heritage. Quickly becoming a mainstay of the New Orleans’ arts scene, Southern Rep also worked to raise international awareness about Southern writers by touring productions in Moscow, Russia; The Sorbonne in Paris, France, and Tiblisi, Georgia. Under O’Neill’s direction, Southern Rep became a bastion of new work and established the Southern New Plays Festival that highlighted regional artists and ran annually until 2006, when it was re-envisioned as THE NEW PLAY BACCHANAL.

When Dr. O’Neill and her family left New Orleans, her successor, Producing Artistic Director Ryan Rilette, continued to grow Southern Rep into a regional venue for premiere work.  From 2002 to 2007, Southern Rep focused on developing and producing new plays by American playwrights, featuring regional premieres of national work, and joining the prestigious National New Play Network, an alliance of nonprofit theatres nationwide that champion the development, production, and continued life of new plays for the American theatre.  With the appointment of Aimée Hayes in 2007, Southern Rep grew to become the premiere regional theatre of the Gulf South.

Sam Sweet was named Interim Executive Director in January 2021.  Sacha Grandoit, who had served Southern Rep as its Artistic Coordinator,  was named Interim Artistic Director in August 2021.  Though Southern Rep had limited productions during the pandemic months, we returned to live theatre with The Thanksgiving Play in December, 2021, and a new 2021 season.   

Southern Rep’s programs are acclaimed, impactful, and, intentionally made accessible to New Orleanians of every socio-economic class.  We are a community leader, creative force, and an important resource for contemporary American theatre.

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