As Joanie Schultz was driving through the showy streets of Chicago in mid-December, she realized that this could well be her last time for a while to brave the bracing cold of a Midwestern winter. Instead, she would have to contend with a different extreme: Texas summer heat.
“It’ll be different… It’ll be good, though,” she says optimistically.
Schultz is making the move from the bustle of the City of Big Shoulders to the environs of Big D; this morning, she was named the new artistic director of Addison’s WaterTower Theatre. The appointment was announced by board president Paul Shultz. “Joanie is a phenomenal choice to lead WaterTower Theatre’s artistic vision in a new era,” he says.
It’s a huge leap of faith for her… but also for WaterTower, which was ably led for 17 of its 20 years by Terry Martin, until he resigned last spring. Schultz is moving to an area where she has few ties; WTT is giving Schultz her first slot as an artistic director leading a theater company. And both couldn’t be more excited at discovering each other.
“She’s never been an artistic director before per se, but she was one [of the candidates] who had done copious amounts of research on WaterTower,” according to Stan Graner, an actor and WTT board member who also served on the search committee. “She had a clear vision for what she wants to accomplish, but what kept catching my eye was how collaborative she was — remarkably intelligent without ego, someone trying to be intuitive and true and as an artist. That really spoke to me.”
Schultz did a lot of research, she says, because before learning of the opening, she was completely unfamiliar with WTT.
“The theater really surprised me when I looked into it, because I’d never heard of it before. I found that sort of shocking [once I learned] what WaterTower could do [with its facilities] and had been doing — the play choices, the diversity, the language talking about ‘the magic in the theater.’ There was a lot of possibility and alignments with what I already [am doing].”