Deaf West Theatre's managing director/producer Bill O'Brien has been appointed the National Endowment of the Arts' new director of theatre and musical theatre. O'Brien will leave his current position at Deaf West in September to spearhead the organization's national theatre leadership initiatives, reported the L.A. Times on July 13.
Deaf West, whose 2003 production of Big River under O'Brien received a Tony nomination for best revival of a musical, said it will not immediately replace O'Brien due to federal funding revoked from deaf theatre programs in 2004 under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. Deaf West's founder Ed Waterstreet and current staff will manage O'Brien's upcoming projects, including Rachel Sheinkin's Sleeping Beauty Wakes.
NEA Chairman said O'Brien's background in acting, producing, music, and administration makes him an ideal candidate for the position. O'Brien said he was honored to work with Deaf West for the past seven years and that the experience has been extremely rewarding.