John McCluggage graduated from West High in 1978. He graduated with bachelor's degrees in English and theatre from Illinois College and with a master's degree in fine arts from Webster University. He currently lives in San Jose, CA.
John is the associate artistic director of the San Jose Repertory Theatre and is the founder of the Red Ladder Theatre Company. Red Ladder is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk and marginalized youth and adults throughout Silicon Valley. The company uses improvisation techniques to encourage creative thinking and problem solving, life skills that are vital for the disenfranchised people it serves. John's efforts have grown Red Ladder from serving 113 individuals during its first season to a peak of 2,700 individuals in recent seasons.
Homeless students, autistic children, seniors and prisoners are among the groups that Red Ladder works with. The group's professional actors work in small groups with the individuals to create scenes and characters. They are challenged with how to present an idea verbally and non-verbally, and once the goals and solutions are set, they perform their improvised skit for the other attendees. The techniques improve the performers' ability to communicate and give them a great deal of satisfaction.
During the 1999-2000 season, Red Ladder was honored as a semi-finalist in the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities' Coming-Up-Taller awards. John was selected to participate in the US/UK Exploratory Learning Partnership and was selected as a semi-finalist in the Ford Foundation's 2001 Leadership for a Changing World Award.
John has directed, assistant directed and performed off-Broadway and at regional theatres across the country, including The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.