Joseph Haj is leaving PlayMakers Repertory Company to become Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, starting in July.

Haj has been Producing Artistic Director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s professional theater company since 2006, presiding over Shakespeare and Sondheim as well as helping establish a more adventurous second-stage series, PRC2.

“We are enormously grateful to Joe for his deep-rooted contributions to PlayMakers,” McKay Coble said in a PlayMakers press release. Coble is a UNC Department of Dramatic Art faculty member and PlayMakers designer. Praising Haj’s vision and leadership, Coble said that PlayMakers is “beginning the search for new leadership as we approach this milestone [40th] anniversary in 2015–16.”

The announcement that Haj would replace the retiring Joe Dowling as the Guthrie’s artistic director was met with “waves of acknowledgment and praise” in Minneapolis, wrote the Star Tribune. Founded in 1963, the Guthrie has 1,800 seats between its main and side stages, compared to PlayMakers’ 500 in Paul Green Theatre.

Look for next Wednesday’s INDY to learn more about what this step up for Haj means for PlayMakers and the Triangle’s theater community.