Performing Arts

Circle Theatre opens 37th season with new leadership

From left to right: Circle Theatre co-founder Bill Newberry, executive director Tim Long and artistic director Matthew Gray.
From left to right: Circle Theatre co-founder Bill Newberry, executive director Tim Long and artistic director Matthew Gray. Circle Theatre

Circle Theatre is kicking off its new season with some big changes to its leadership.

On Thursday, the Fort Worth-based theater company announced the hiring of Matthew Gray as Circle Theatre’s first-ever artistic director. Managing director Tim Long, who has been with Circle Theatre in various roles since 1999, will now serve as executive director.

Long will take over for previous executive director Bill Newberry, who retired at the end of December. Gray will come on board in mid-January.

Circle has new strong leadership in place to carry it forward. I couldn’t be happier and I look forward to seeing what the future holds,” Newberry said.

Newberry, who co-founded Circle Theatre in 1981 with his wife, Rose Pearson, stepped into the role of executive director after Pearson died in August 2016. Over his years with the organization, he has appeared onstage and behind the scenes as an actor, director, stage manager and designer of over 100 Circle Theatre production sets.

Long, who started as an intern in the summer of 1999, also has held multiple titles since joining Circle Theatre, including box office manager, associate producer, general manager and managing director. He is also responsible for writing, directing and producing the inaugural production of the Circle Theatre's New Directions series in 2003.

“Since starting as an intern in the summer of 1999, Circle Theatre has been a home to me. I am excited to continue my journey here as executive director and to welcome Matthew Gray as the artistic director,” Long said. “Rose Pearson and Bill Newberry forged a wonderful theater we are eager to grow.”

Gray, who directed the Circle Theatre plays “Dex and Julie Sittin’ in a Tree” and “Something Intangible,” joins the organization with experience both locally and nationally as an actor, director and designer. His résumé includes work with multiple Dallas-Fort Worth theaters, including Casa Mañana, Kitchen Dog Theater, Second Thought Theater, Dallas Children’s Theater, Pegasus Theater and Classical Acting Company, which he founded and served as artistic director with his wife, Emily, for four seasons.

“I am thrilled to be joining executive director Timothy Long and the Circle Theatre family as the new artistic director,” said Gray. “It is equal parts humbling and exhilarating to honor what Rose Pearson and Bill Newberry started and grew for 36 years. Because of their work, Circle has always been and will continue to be an open, accepting and safe place for artists and audiences to explore important and entertaining new plays.”

To celebrate its new chapter, the theater will hold a reception Feb. 7. The come-and-go event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Circle Theatre (230 W. Fourth St., Fort Worth).

Circle Theatre’s 37th season begins Jan. 25 with the comedy “This Random World.” For showtimes and tickets, call 817-877-3040 or visit