Seattle's ACT Theatre announced today that Robert Egan has been hired as its new artistic director. Egan will be returning to his roots when he officially takes on the position in early 2003, as he began his career in 1980 as associate artistic director for Seattle Repertory Theatre before moving to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, where he currently serves as producing director.

"This is an incredible opportunity that I couldn't pass up," Egan said of his new appointment. "I am looking forward to working with and getting to know ACT's family of artists, craftspeople, and administrators, and hope to expand the theater's potential for creating new works for the American theater even further."

At Seattle Rep, Egan created "The Other Season" and opened the Bagley Wright Theatre with the world premiere of Michael Weller's The Ballad of Soapy Smith. Since beginning his work at the Taper, he has served as director of new play development as well as founder and producing director for the New Works Festival; his credits there include Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (with Kate Burton), Shakespeare's Richard II and Measure for Measure (both with Kelsey Grammer), and Ariel Dorfman and Tony Kushner's Windows. Egan also works as artistic director for California's Ojal Playwrights Conference, an annual celebration of new plays.

"Robert Egan is a dynamic and charismatic individual who has the experience and creativity that we were seeking, and he will help us redefine our role in creating nationally recognized contemporary theater," said George Willoughby, a co-chair on ACT's search committee.

Each year, ACT produces a six-show season consisting of modern classics along with new plays commissioned by ACT. Over the next few months, Egan will work with ACT associate artistic director Kurt Beattie to set the theater's 2003 season before coming on board full-time early next year.