Artistic Vision & Mission
Our Artists & Staff
Articles & Reviews
Donate & Support
The New American Theatre
The New American Theatre (formerly Circus Theatricals) is a nonprofit theatre company founded in 1983.
At the age of 28, Circus Theatricals announced our name change to The New American Theatre. The New American Theatre represents an evolution in our vision for the future of our theatre company, and the American theatre-at-large.
Jack Stehlin founded Circus Theatricals in New York in 1983, just after graduating from the Juilliard School. Seeking a unique name, he decided to honor his family, who were famous circus performers through much of the 20th century. The first production was Uncle Vanya, with Juilliard classmate Kevin Spacey. Other New York hits included Macbeth Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company, and Danton’s Death at the Rapp Arts Center.
In 1995, Circus Theatricals moved to Los Angeles, where Jack met and partnered with Jeannine Wisnosky. (Jack and Jeannine married two years later.) In LA, Circus Theatricals was at The Hudson Guild from 1995 - 1999, (with award-winning productions of The Job, Hedda Gabler) and the Odyssey Theatre from 1999 to December 2005 (with award-winning productions of Hamlet, Richard III, True West, Tartuffe and The Cherry Orchard). 2006 – 2008, Circus Theatricals presented a string of critically-acclaimed world-premiere and classic productions at the Circus Theatricals Studio Theatre including John Bunzel’s Complexity, Chuck Rose’s Safe, The Heiress, and The Women. The company produced Shem Bitterman’s Iraq War companion pieces Man.gov and 2008 Pen USA Award winning play Harm’s Way in LA and Off-Broadway. In 2009, Circus Theatricals co-produced three plays with the Odyssey Theatre. Spring, 2010, the company presented the critically acclaimed hit More Lies About Jerzy at the Hayworth Theatre.
Jack Stehlin founded Circus Theatricals in New York in 1983. Looking for a unique name, he decided to honor his family, who happen to have been very famous circus performers through much of the 20th century. His great-grandfather, (who's actual last name was Sullivan) was an Australian "take all comers" fighter at the turn of the century. Sullivan trained his nine children to be a traveling Australian circus act.
Known as the "The Colleano Family Circus," they eventually moved to the United States. Quickly signed on the the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Colleanos performed center ring as tumblers, acrobats, and jugglers (and like every family, they even had a clown!)Stehlin's grandmother Kate "Colleano" was exceptionally strong. One of her specialties was balancing a ten foot ladder on the bottom of her bare feet. Her sisters would then climb the ladder and do acrobatic tricks on the top. Stehlin’s Aunt Winifred is in the Circus Hall of Fame for her unique trapeze act. Uncle Con Colleano was the most famous of all. Billed as "Con Colleano, Wizard of the Wire," Con is in the the Circus Hall of Fame and the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the first toe-to-toe forward somersault on a wire. His famous wire dancing and forward somersault are legendary.Jack Stehlin's mother Kitty O'Donnell "Kitty Colleano" was part of the second generation of Colleanos to join the famous circus act.
Performing under the moniker "The Juggling Colleanos," Kitty performed a juggling and tumbling act with her two brothers and two sisters. Besides traveling the United States, they were often seen on popular television programs such as the Ed Sullivan Show. Kitty officially retired from the circus shortly before Jack’s birth.