Celebrated Actor, Choreographer Jesse J. Perez Named New Director of San Diego’s Internationally-Ranked MFA in Acting Program

Jesse J. Perez to Direct The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program

SAN DIEGO, CA – Monday, August 6, 2018 – The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program today announces the hire of Jesse J. Perez as its new director. Perez is an accomplished actor, choreographer, director and professor who comes to San Diego after twelve years of distinguished teaching at the Juilliard School in New York.

Perez will join the faculty of the University of San Diego’s Department of Theatre and oversee the internationally renowned Master of Fine Arts in Acting program that is a joint effort between the University and The Old Globe Theatre

“We could not be more pleased to welcome Jesse, an immeasurably accomplished actor, teacher and leader, to the University of San Diego as the director of our MFA in Acting program,” remarked Noelle Norton, PhD, dean of the University of San Diego’s College of Arts and Sciences. “His ambitions for growing the program and supporting our students will help take our collaborative program with The Old Globe to new heights. We are honored to welcome him to our University.”

His impressive list of credits includes acting roles in Off-Broadway productions, international exhibitions, choreography and television shows and movies, including Party People (The Public); The Father and A Doll's House (Theatre for a New Audience); Up Against the Wind (New York Theatre Workshop); Lucia di Lammermoor (The Metropolitan Opera); Venice Biennale; Salzburg Festival; “Law & Order;” “Life on Mars;” “American Splendor” and “Adopt a Highway.” He has been company choreographer for the Lake Lucille Project since 2003, choreographing all of Chekhov’s major plays under the direction of Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievman.

“Joining such an esteemed group of professionals, who are committed to educating the next generation of classical actors and supporting San Diego’s flourishing theatre community, is not something I take lightly,” said Jesse Perez. “I look forward to advancing the shared mission of both The Old Globe and the University of San Diego in their aim of fostering a world-class graduate acting experience.”

“The appointment of Jesse J. Perez to direct The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre program is a great thing for this theatre, the university, and the American theatre at large,” said Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “Jesse is a rare and significant talent. A classical actor of real range and skill and a highly imaginative director and choreographer, he has worked on important stages around the United States and the world. An educator and mentor, he has taught and trained actors at our country’s leading conservatories. And his gifts as an artist and teacher are only exceeded by his gifts as a thinker and activist.  He has a vision of what the future of the American classical theatre can look like, and his artistry and leadership, combined with his kindness and deep well of humanity, will make that vision real as he builds on this program’s already excellent reputation in the time ahead.

A joint venture of The Old Globe and the University of San Diego, the Master of Fine Arts in Acting program nationally recruits seven students each year to participate in an intensive two-year, year-round course of graduate study in classical theatre.

In advance of his role with the Shiley Graduate Theatre Program, Perez will play Richard III in La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere production of Seize the King by Will Power, running August 21 - September 16, 2018.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Pamela Gray Payton
(619) 260-4681