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History

Joseph Leonardi - Founder

Joseph Leonardi - Founder

The Repertory Theater of Iowa (RTI) was founded in 2004 by Joseph Leonardi, a Des Moines native who had spent the previous 15 years as an actor, director, and playwright in San Francisco.  Leonardi’s goal upon returning to Iowa was to establish central Iowa’s first resident, professional theater ensemble comprised of actors, directors, and designers from Iowa.  

From 2004 to 2006, RTI (first
 known as the Central Iowa Repertory Company) produced 13 plays in 7 different productions.  In 2007, Iowa native and New York actor Richard Maynard joined the company as its Managing Director. Together, Mr. Leonardi and Mr. Maynard began forming a company of 13 local theater artists.  In 2008, the Drama Workshop (est 1951) merged with RTI in order to preserve its 57-year history of producing classic dramatic works. Also that year, the RTI company expanded to 19 theater artists and opened its first production in September, 2008, with Arthur Miller’s "All My Sons", which received critical and public acclaim. 

Since 2008, RTI has presented a three-play season, in addition to our collaborations with Salisbury House & Gardens to produce its "Shakespeare-on-the-Lawn" series (2009-2013) and the Terrace Hill Foundation to produce its "Thriller on Terrace Hill" and "Victorian Voices" programs (2009 - 2011). In all, RTI has produced 26 full productions for central Iowa audiences since 2008. Other partnerships include The Des Moines Social Club and the Des Moines OnStage Children's Theatre.

We continue to be supported through individual donations and with grants from Dupont Pioneer, BRAVO, the Iowa Arts Council, the Principal Financial Group
Miller Mechanical Specialties, Inc., and the Iowa Foundation for the Environment, Education, and the ArtsIn 2012, we began our Ageless Arts program, which takes complete, short theatre productions to assisted living centers in the Des Moines area, free of charge to the residents.  Ageless Arts also reaches out to the younger people in the community as we cast and mentor high school and college students as they join our casts and crew for our productions.