Les Waters. Photo: Kevin Bern/Berkeley Rep

Les Waters, an Obie-winning Brit who has served as Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s assistant artistic director for eight years, is leaving the theater to take over as artistic director at The Actors Theater of Louisville, Kentucky.

Waters, 59, will assume the role in January, but will not take on fulltime duties until March, after he directs Berkeley Rep’s production of Red, the theater announced Tuesday.

“After eight years together, it is difficult to leave Berkeley – yet it is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville, an organization I’ve long admired,” Waters said in a statement.

“I’ve had the opportunity to direct twice at Actors Theatre, and I was deeply impressed with the theatre, its staff, and the community at large. I am committed to making theatre there that is passionate and intelligent, funny and heartfelt, and look forward to leading Actors Theatre to new artistic endeavors.”

Waters has directed a number of Berkeley Rep plays that have received great acclaim, including Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room, (or the vibrator play) which went to Broadway. His other productions include Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, Fêtes de la Nuit, Finn in the Underworld, Girlfriend, and To the Lighthouse; the American premiere of TRAGEDY: a tragedy; the West Coast premieres of Ruhl’s Eurydice and Three Sisters; and extended runs of The Glass Menagerie, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Pillowman, and Yellowman.

“We’ve loved working with Les for the past eight years,” said Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. “He had a remarkable run at Berkeley Rep, and his signature style as a director and the full force of his humanity will be sorely missed. We wish him nothing but the best as his adventure continues, and we look forward to forging a strong relationship with Actors Theatre of Louisville.”

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...