The Pearl Theatre is a resident acting company that presents classic plays by Shakespeare, Sheridan, Ibsen, Chekhov, Molière, Lorca, Shaw and others in repertory. Shepard Sobel and Joanne Camp founded the company in the East Village in 1984. J.R. Sullivan became artistic director in August 2009.
A resident company format mandates the ongoing development of a troupe individually and collectively capable of great range in style, period and character. The Pearl seeks and develops actors with the technical abilities and the artistic inclination to create a character rather than to recreate a type, and to approach each play on the playwright’s terms.
A full-range repertory strongly rooted in the classics offers to the company, and demands of the company, scope, resonance and variety. The company has given world premiere productions of 19 new translations, 14 of which were commissioned by the Pearl.
Among the kudos the company has received are a 1992 Obie grant for Continued Artistic Excellence; a special Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance; a sweep of Actors’ Equity Association’s 2002 awards for Performance in Classical Plays; and the Board of Education’s Friend of Manhattan High Schools Award for the company’s Arts-in-Education initiative, Classics in the Classroom, which has allowed hundreds of New York City high school students to experience classical theater.