Langs (right) directing Charles Leggett and Darragh Kennan in The Dumb Waiter.
  • Langs (right) directing Charles Leggett and Darragh Kennan in "The Dumb Waiter."

John Langs is one of my favorite working directors. As I wrote in this week's Suggests for Antony and Cleopatra, his imagination simultaneously sharpens and embellishes whatever play he directs. He is both smart and visceral and has a talent for trimming away fat while teasing out and adding to themes—visual, textual—that most directors would let sit in the background.

Some directors overladen their plays with concepts and crap. Some directors bring too little to the text, leaving everyone unsatisfied. John Langs usually gets it just right. (A few reviews from our archives, of classic works and world premieres: Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet at Seattle Shakespeare Company, The Adding Machine by New Century Theater Company, Crumbs Are Also Bread at WET, The Dumb Waiter and Celebration as part of ACT's Pinter festival, Paul Mullin's Louis Slotin Sonata at Empty Space.)

Langs has had a heavy presence in Seattle, but he hasn't lived here—until now. This morning, ACT Theater announced it had coaxed him out of Los Angeles and hired him on as a full-time associate artistic director (a position that has been vacant since Kurt Beattie left it to become full artistic director). According to the announcement, Langs will direct one mainstage play a year, help curate their Central Heating Lab program, assist in new play development, etc.

ACT says Langs will continue to direct at other theaters and in other cities—his talent is in demand—but hiring him full-time is a smart move, both for the present and Langs's promising future.