Brian Katz is an award-winning theatre director, arts administrator and educator. He is the co-founder of the Custom Made Theatre Company, which he founded with Leah Abrams in 1996. For Custom Made, he has won, and been nominated, for numerous accolades, including winning Best Overall Production (under 100 seats) for Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby and was nominated for directing Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day.
Brian Katz is a graduate of Clark University (Worcester,MA), where he helped found, and then lead, an alternative theatre group (CxOxDx). After graduating Clark, Mr. Katz interned at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, studying dramaturgy under Tom Creamer and assisting such storied directors such as Robert Falls and Michael Maggio, and served as assistant dramaturg on Mary Zimmerman’s world premiere production of Journey to the West.
Brian was lured back to Massachusetts to direct a student production of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, and upon its completion proposed starting a new company to fellow Clarkies that would emulate the regional model he had worked under in Chicago. A small group of alumni agreed and the first production was Lee Blessing’s Down the Road in Worcester, MA followed by Pandemonium (an evening of David Mamet and Gertude Stein) and finally Tony Kusher’s Slavs! at the Boston Center for the Arts.
Brian left New England with Leah Abrams to join fellow Clark Alumni and Dave Ampola, who would soon become Custom Made’s first technical director, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their first production in SF was Orchards, an evening of Chekhov short-story adaptations by modern playwrights (a production that would be revived a decade later.) For the next half-dozen years, Custom Made would join the ranks of San Francisco’s growing nomadic theatre scene, bouncing from one venue to another, but always growing its base and gathering a strong reputation for intelligent, risk-taking theatre that was deliciously eclectic.
In 2005, Custom Made took control of the the main-stage off the Off-Market Theatre (now defunct,) finally realizing their dream of having a home of their own. From here, Custom Made started receiving accolades from the press, getting nominated for dozens of Critic Circle awards, and being included in season ending top-ten lists, including Mr. Katz’s direction of the Bay Area Premiere of Sondheim’s Assassins. Looking for a more suitable artistic venue, Custom Made next moved to the Next Stage, a 25-year old theatre attached to the historic Trinity Church. Now renamed Gough Street Playhouse, this intimate venue has brought great success to Custom Made, which now has a solid base of subscribers and runs a 5-play MainStage season, among other smaller workshops and classes.
Mr. Katz’s leadership has helped grow Custom Made from the smallest beginnings, producing one or two shows a year, to one of the most respected companies in San Francisco, with an annual budget of over $150,000, a staff of seven, and with scores of artists, technicians and administrators under his purview each season.
For Custom Made he has directed over 25 productions including Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, The Bay Area Premieres of Carson Kreitzer’s The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter, Stephen Adly Guirgus’ The Last Day of Judas Iscariot as well as Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell. Outside of Custom Made, he has worked at California Shakespeare Company, Killing My Lobster, Berkeley Rep, CenterREP, SFPC, La Vache Enragee and other cool places.
Brian is also an educator, and currently teaches at a two-year college in San Francisco. He serves on the Theatre Services Committee of Theatre Bay Area .