The new face you see at Trustus Theatre may seem young and enthusiastic, and Leila Ibrahim is both those things and more, but most of all she’s completely confident that she is taking over the job she has always been meant to have—executive director of a ground-breaking regional theatre that is on the verge of making itself known to the greater world of theatre in the southeast and beyond.
Born and raised in Georgia, Ibrahim cut her theatrical teeth working backstage before moving to box office work and then on to theatre administration. After earning an undergraduate degree in business she moved to Philadelphia where she continued to work behind-the-scenes in theatre while earning her master’s degree in Arts Administration. “I went to Philadelphia for the job and the education but I always knew I wanted to come back to the South,” she explains.
Ibrahim took the job of executive director of Florence Little Theatre in February 2015, full of plans and ambitions for what she calls the “robust community theatre” she adored. But when the job came open at Trustus Theatre, she found herself in a conundrum. “I had always heard about Trustus Theatre and what a great reputation they have,” she says. “My plan had been to be at Florence Little Theatre for a while longer and accomplish more. But sometimes when a certain job becomes available you just have to take it. I’m excited to be working with such a progressive repertoire and a board of directors who want to grow this amazing theatre.”
Ibrahim is also excited about working with an artistic director, having worked primarily with a board of directors at Florence Little Theatre who selected the production season themselves. “I have tremendous respect for [artistic director] Chad Henderson,” she says. “Chad and I have strengths in different areas and I think we’re going to work together very well. I’m really good at the business of art, but I’m not an artist myself, like Chad is. I still love being part of it.”
Henderson responds equally enthusiastically. “"I'm looking forward to working with Leila. She comes to Trustus with experience in the areas that, when coupled with the artistic elements, will serve the theatre's goals for the future. I expect we'll have a wonderfully productive relationship as the leaders of this organization. This is truly the start of a new era at Trustus, and there are great opportunities ahead."
The Nitty-Gritty on Ibrahim:
She's 31 years old, the same age as Trustus and almost the same age as Henderson -- "We match!" She says
Her favorite playwright is Tennessee Williams -- "I love the classics!"
"But first and foremost I'm a musical theatre person." -- Her favorite musicals are Rent, Wicked, and American Idiot (on the Trustus schedule for Summer 2016)
The first play she ever saw -- Of Mice and Men.
"With any kind of performance I want to be fully entertained, made to think deeply, inspired, and pushed."
"New art is imperative for a theatre's health. Look at how opera suffered because it went without significant development for so long. We can't let that happen to theatre and we want let it happen at Trustus."
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