The Acting Company

Remembering Lisa Banes

Remembering Lisa Banes

Lisa Banes (1955 – 2021)

The Acting Company is bereft by the passing of its treasured alumna Lisa Banes.  Lisa joined The Acting Company in 1979 after graduating from the Drama Division of The Juilliard School.  Her many leading roles with the Company include seminal productions of The White Devil directed by Michael Kahn and Elizabeth I directed by Liviu Ciulei. Lisa also was featured in Ten by Tennessee, a retrospective of one-act plays by Tennessee Williams, directed by Michael Kahn, and in the New York premiere of Eric Overmyer’s On The Verge, or the Geography of Yearning directed by Garland Wright. 


In addition to her credits with The Acting Company, Lisa played leading roles at most of the leading New York theaters including the American premiere of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger at the Roundabout directed by Ted Craig, Wendy Kesselman’s My Sister in this House at Second Stage directed by Carole Rothman and Inverna Lockpez, Antigone at The Public directed by Joseph Chaikin, and The Three Sisters at The Manhattan Theatre Club directed by Lynne Meadow, where she was mostly recently in Eleanor Burgess’ The Niceties directed by Kimberly Senior. On Broadway, Lisa was featured in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia directed by Trevor Nunn, Neil Simon’s Rumors directed by Gene Saks, Accent on Youth directed by Daniel Sullivan, and Present Laughterdirected by Nicholas Martin. 


In addition to her major career in live theater, Lisa enjoyed a long and successful career in film and television.

Lisa was beloved by all of the actors with whom she worked, as well as the former and present staff and board of The Acting Company.

General News

Ian Belknap Announces his Departure

The Acting Company announces that Ian Belknap will end his tenure as artistic director on December 31, 2021. Ian joined The Acting Company in 2008 and has been the artistic director since 2012. Under his direction, the Company has remained unwavering in its founding mission to develop excellent young actors by producing a mix of classic and new plays on tour and in New York City.  

Ian’s considerable talent and charisma have made him the complete leader, not only in his artistic vision and direction but also in guiding our fiscal and fundraising activities. We are grateful and will miss him in so many ways.”  – Earl D. Weiner, Chair, The Acting Company Board of Trustees


The hallmark of Ian’s tenure was programming repertories that connected the past and the present which recently included Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Nambi E. Kelley’s Native Son, which won the 2019 Audelco Award for Best Play. This repertory followed Julius Caesar paired with Marcus Gardley’s X: or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation, which Ian commissioned and directed. It toured nationally, played for an extended run off-Broadway, and The New York Times called the repertory “a stroke of curatorial inspiration”.  

Because we are all adopted children of The Acting Company, it was like the younger brother was put in charge of the family business and he THRIVED. Stepped right into the driver’s seat of a historic company and helped it evolve while maintaining the principles of its foundation. Bravery and Brilliance come to mind when reflecting on Ian’s tenure. I’m just as sad to see him go as I am excited for his and the company’s next chapters. Take wings Young Belknap.” – Roslyn Ruff, Company member and Obie Award-winning actress.

The Acting Company turns 50 in 2022, it’s a good time for an influx of new energy and to give myself a new challenge. Leaving is difficult as the Company has been my home. It is a magical theatre full of people who support the idea that actresses and actors are the foundation of the theatre.” – Ian Belknap

Ian directed and produced many national tours and off-Broadway productions for the Company including Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, As You Like It, and Love’s Labor’s Lost. To help produce this work onstage, Ian guided partnerships between the Company and The New Victory, Resident Ensemble Players, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, The Juilliard School, Teachers College, and together with Margot Harley, oversaw a long-term collaboration with The Guthrie Theater.

I am very sad to contemplate Ian’s decision to leave The Acting Company. We have worked together for 13 years and I thought he was the perfect person to replace me as Artistic Director. He has been splendid with endlessly good ideas and he has been a remarkable mentor for the actors. His enormous talent and energy is reflected in the accomplishments of The Acting Company during his tenure, I wish him great success and wherever he goes next they will be lucky to have him.” – Margot Harley, Co-Founder, The Acting Company

Spring 2021 Community Updates:  Ongoing Commitment to Change

Spring 2021 Community Updates:  Ongoing Commitment to Change

Last summer, the Company committed to fulfilling our duty as a cultural institution to shape the present and future by becoming pro-BIPOC and actively anti-racist. For us, that means living up to ever-evolving standards of Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Justice.  Keeping that evolution in mind, this is an update on how the Company is working to live up to those commitments. 

In shaping those initial commitments and in the process of examining our organization, both past and present, we have been guided by the work of a number of organizations: We See You White American TheaterBroadway Advocacy CoalitionBlack Theatre CoalitionBlack Theatre United, and Black Lives Matter to start.  These are just some of the organizations shouldering the burden of this enormous and inspiring work.  We are grateful to them for leading the community to improve, to grow, and to do the right thing.  

Accountability and transparency are vital to this process and so, if there are questions, recommendations, adjustments, or comments of any sort, please contact us directly. Our email addresses are listed below and on our website:

We want to let our community know of some of the steps we have been taking.

Acknowledging Those That Come Before: The colonization of America involved the dislocation, exploitation and mass killings of indigenous peoples, and much of what we have now was built on the labor of many who have been left out of the histories. We need to remember so that we can change.  Here we want to acknowledge those that have come before and the debts that we owe them.  This is something we will make part of all our public work.

The Acting Company and the city of New York is located on Lenapehoking, the unceded traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape people. We acknowledge debts we owe to the Indigenous peoples who have and still live, work, create, and contribute to communities here in Lenapehoking,

The City of New York, where our offices are located, was built by enslaved Africans during the Colonial Era and beyond. We acknowledge the trauma, pain, and suffering that occurred and will acknowledge the contributions of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color past and present in our home base of New York and in communities where our tours play.

Ongoing Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice:  Our staff and board are currently collaborating with the Raben Group, a national policy firm, to clarify our values and visions, advancing and building systems to nourish and sustain the equitable, inclusive, diverse, and just organization that our community deserves. 

Time and Resources:  Last fall the Company committed to eliminating the “10 out of 12” technical rehearsals and switching to a five-day work week.  As we move toward producing again and plan our upcoming season, we have kept to this new schedule.

Language of Colonization:  The harm to members of our community that is caused by continued use of colonial language has been brought to our attention.  Titles that include words like “Master”, “Chief”, or “Foreman” can evoke negative responses as they are titles founded on systems of oppression.  We are working to decolonize the language the Company uses in both titles and documents.

Casting Announcements:  The Acting Company’s mission has always been devoted to the next generation of actors, with a desire that each new generation represents the full breadth of our culture.  We know that casting announcements, particularly those for classical texts, are often phrased in ways that discourage actors from auditioning because they maintain cultural assumptions on the identity of the character.  We are committed to producing casting announcements that encourage Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to audition for any and every role they feel is appropriate to them.  We will also promote and welcome gender diverse, non-binary, and ability conscious casting.

Diversity On and Off Stage: This means that we will actively seek BIPOC artists to lead artistic projects, that artistic teams should not be racially or culturally homogenous, and that diversity is reflected at every level of production. 

Continued Transparency and Accountability:  Part of this process demands that our actions are visible to our community so that we can be held accountable.  We are in the midst of a full redesign of our website and addressing this transparency is part of that process.  We are working with Isometric Studios to build a site where our community can engage with us directly.  The site will include spaces where these evolving commitments can live in full public view, where we can acknowledge those that have come before as well as those that we are learning from now, where we can gather feedback from our community, and where we can lift up and celebrate members of our community.  We will include the names and bios of current staff, production teams, and acting ensembles.  We want our community to know who we are and what we do.

The Acting Company Staff:

Ian Belknap (He/Him/His), Artistic Director                  


Devin Brain (He/Him/His), Associate Artistic Director              


Joshua David Robinson (He/Him/His), Artistic Associate


Pamela Reichen (She/Her/Hers), General Manager               


Caitlin White (She/Her/Hers), Director of Development           


Colin Parrinello (He/Him/His), Development Associate          


Margot Harley (She/Her/Hers), Founder                             

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