Iowa City's Riverside Theatre has named a new artistic director.

The theater announced Wednesday the hiring of New York City-based theater director Adam Knight for the artistic director position at the 37-year-old non-profit theater. 

Knight will replace Sean Lewis, the playwright, director and University of Iowa MFA graduate who has been serving as interim director at Riverside for the past two years. 

"I think what set Adam a little bit above the other candidates is that he has worked with different theaters for a long time that are in small spaces like Riverside," Jennifer Whitmore, chair of the theater's board of directors, said. 

Knight, who starts the job Oct. 1, will serve alongside the new managing director of the theater Irena Saric.

Knight has served as the co-artistic director for the Slant Theatre Project in New York City, which he co-founded in 2004, according to the theater's news release, where he has directed classic, contemporary and new plays. 

He's also served as the executive director for Red Lab Productions, an international group that creates cultural diplomacy through theater. The group stages the Georgian-American Theatrical Fest, which spotlights the works of playwrights from the eastern European country of Georgia. 

Knight also worked for the League of Resident Theaters, a national group of 74 professional non-profit theaters. 

Whitmore said that Knight will inherit a theater that is in much stronger condition than when Lewis first started. Theater founders Judy Hovland and Ron Clark retried from running the theater in 2015. Their immediate successor only last about a year. 

"Financially, we were struggling a couple years ago," Whitmore said. With Lewis taking the reigns in 2016, the theater began to show more new work and more shows that were dealing with topics in the news: "Black and Blue," a drama about a white cop and a black man he arrested 10 year's previously, "A View from the Bridge," the Arthur Miller classic largely about immigrants in America. 

This summer, Lewis helped lead the theater into making its annual outdoor performances of plays by William Shakespeare to be free and open to the public.

"Sean really helped us reach out the community. He made so many connections and that was so important," Whitmore said. She added the Lewis has already selected the plays for the upcoming season to help smooth the transition to the new artistic director.

Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg. 


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