Synetic Theater Appoints Ben Cunis New Managing Director
The filmmaker, theater artist and administrator returns home to Synetic Theater
Arlington, Virginia (August 25, 2022) – Synetic Theater, the center for American Physical Theater, today announced the appointment of Ben Cunis as its new Managing Director, effective September 1, 2022. Most recently a working filmmaker and professor at the University of Southern California, Mr. Cunis first began working with Synetic Theater in 2006, first as an actor and then as an administrator, making the appointment a welcome homecoming.
“Ben is one of the most influential members of the Synetic family,” said Synetic’s co-founder, Artistic Director and CEO Paata Tsikurishvili. “He brings vast experience in theater and film, as well as a broad institutional knowledge of Synetic, making him uniquely qualified to take the reins as the company’s Managing Director. We are so thrilled to welcome Ben back home!”
As Managing Director, Mr. Cunis will oversee Synetic Theater’s long-term development, fundraising and institutional advancement, and related strategic priorities, with a goal of positioning the organization for ongoing success now and well into the future. Reporting to Mr. Tsikurishvili and working collaboratively with staff and Board, Mr. Cunis will serve as an advocate for staff and prioritize a positive and inclusive work culture. Externally, Mr. Cunis will represent Synetic Theater at community events and programs, and ensure that Synetic actively engages with the broader regional theater community.
Mr. Cunis begins his tenure at a pivotal moment for Synetic Theater, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary and has emerged from the pandemic with renewed energy and an ever-deepening commitment to its art and its community. Based in National Landing, the company is strategically located in a neighborhood currently undergoing redevelopment as part of Amazon’s HQ2.
“Synetic Theater is my artistic homeland, and it’s an honor to return with new perspective, experience and skills,” Mr. Cunis commented. “Emerging from the pandemic years, we have the opportunity to rediscover a place of presence. Our bodies and imaginations are coming together again, remembering recent lessons and carrying new tools. For me, this time will be about reinvigorating our relationships, working hard on new art, growing new artists and forging ahead into new spaces in a spirit of imagination, inclusion, maturity and courage.”
The start of Mr. Cunis’ tenure coincides with the start of Synetic’s 2022-2023 season, which opens September 12, 2022, with Host and Guest, one of the most lauded dramas in the company repertoire. Visit www.synetictheater.org for more information.
About Synetic Theater
Synetic Theater is a center for American Physical Theater, fusing dynamic art forms such as text, drama, movement, acrobatics, dance, and original music into a wordless style that is at once high art and highly accessible. Its mission: to redefine theater by blending innovative techniques and movement, investing in artists’ growth, and creating unforgettable, visceral experiences for every audience.
Founded in 2001, Synetic Theater emerged from the creative vision of its founders, the husband-and-wife team of Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, Georgian artists who moved to the United States in the 1990s. Trained in dance, theater and film, the Tsikurishvilis combine traditions of the Caucasus with distinctly American styles to tell classic stories through movement, music, technology and visual arts. Under the Tsikurishvilis’ leadership, Synetic has received a total of 143 Helen Hayes Award nominations and 34 awards, including for directing, choreography, acting, costume design, and best production, and trained a generation of theater artists who have gone on to major careers in film, television and theater.
Based in National Landing in the historical Crystal City Underground, Synetic Theater produces four to five mainstage productions and two to three family series productions per season, while also running an educational studio for children and adults, conducting community outreach programs, and touring family and mainstage productions and reaching over 36,000 patrons annually.
About Ben Cunis
Artist, filmmaker, teacher and arts administrator Ben Cunis first joined Synetic Theater in 2006 as a recent alumnus from the Drama program at the Catholic University of America. He started training under Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili and in 2007 performed as Macduff in Macbeth. He spent ten years, all told, at Synetic Theater working as an actor, fight choreographer, teacher, Director of Development, Artistic Associate, director, and writer. He has received three Helen Hayes Awards for his work as a fight and action choreographer, along with additional awards as a part of the ensembles of Twelfth Night, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet…The Rest is Silence.
From 2012-2017, Ben worked as the Development Associate for Hope Connections for Cancer Support in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2016, he moved to Los Angeles where he pursued his MFA in Film and TV production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he produced, directed, performed and stunt coordinated on many films.
Several of Mr. Cunis’ films are heavily influenced by his time at Synetic and have seen festival runs, including the Telluride Horror Show, the Golden State Film Festival, the Macabre Faire Festival, the Knoxville Horror Show, the Jack Oakie Comedy Festival, and the Artemis Women in Action Festival. Upon graduation, Ben was hired to teach directing at USC and was soon promoted to Lead Faculty on the foundational graduate course, Production I.
He also co-founded the Virginia-based production company, Granite Kiss Creative, and worked with Lunacy Productions’ Stu Pollard to create Trunacy, a non-profit dedicated to helping local indie filmmakers in Kentucky and the Midwest.
Originally from Plymouth, New Hampshire, Ben lives with his wife, Betsy Summers, who he met while she was stage managing at Synetic on Lilia Slavova’s Nutcracker. They have two children and two cats.
Synetic Theater Managing Director
Images may be available upon request.
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