His selection followed a six-month national search for the third leader in the history of the 34-year-old company, which has been overseen by Robison since 2005. Robison is leaving to become head of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
Rilette is president of the National New Play Network, a group that links companies and playwrights, and most recently directed Marin’s well-received production of “God of Carnage.” He said the diversity of D.C. theater and the opportunities presented by Round House’s dual spaces made the job highly attractive.
Round House operates a 400-seat county-owned main stage on East-West Highway in Bethesda and a second county-owned space, a flexible black box next door to the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.
“I think the facilities at Round House are some of the best I’ve seen in the country,” said the New Orleans-born Rilette, who added that the multiple leadership responsibilities of the Round House job greatly appealed to him. Under Round House’s management system, he will supervise the business and artistic sides.
“There are not a lot of places that use that model,” he said, “and it’s what I do best. I’m not someone who just likes to do the artistic side. I’ve become really good at finances. I see the two as so integrated, it’s hard not to do one without the other.
“I like to do spreadsheets late at night,” he said.
Openings in leadership jobs at higher-visibility theaters in Washington are exceedingly rare. The most recent occurred at Studio Theatre, where David Muse in September 2010 took over from founder Joy Zinoman. It was Zinoman’s style of producing modern classics, in fact, that Rilette mentioned as one template for the types of work he wants to bring to Round House when he plans the company’s 2013-14 season.
“That space,” he said of the main stage, “is about doing the best of 20th-century plays, celebrated new plays and small-cast musicals.”
Next season’s offerings have been set by Robison, who instituted a practice of staging literary adaptations. That mission — which gave Round House successes such as a lively version in 2010 of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and dry misfires, such as last year’s “Fahrenheit 451” — appears to be ending. One of the challenges Rilette will face is raising Round House’s profile in the ever more competitive regional theater scene, with well-established flagships such as Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth Theatre and burgeoning small troupes gaining favor among younger theatergoers.