Williamstown Theatre Festival names new artistic director
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Mandy Greenfield, artistic producer of the nonprofit Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, will succeed Jenny Ger sten as artistic director of Williams town Theatre Festival.
Her appointment becomes effective in September 2014, at the end of WTF's 60th anniversary season.
Gersten, who leaves WTF in January after three years at the helm, will program the 2014 season; Williamstown producer Stephen Kaus will oversee it.
Gersten is leaving the festival to become executive director of Friends of the Highline in New York.
Founded in 1970, Manhattan Theatre Club now has a subscriber base of 20,000, according to its website.
MTC produces on Broadway in the Sam uel J. Friedman The atre on West 47th St. and in two theaters at New York City Center on West 55th St.
As artistic producer, Greenfield, who has been with MTC since 2003, leads programming at City Center and collaborates with MTC executive director Lynne Meadow on programming at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Her responsibilities include commissioning, developing and producing new plays and musicals.
Speaking by telephone from New York, the 39-year-old Greenfield said she was approached by the WTF search committee.
"(Williamstown Theatre Festival) is a place for which I have had enormous respect and admiration," Greenfield said. "This is a hugely appealing, flattering, exciting opportunity. I took the bait."
"We've known Mandy for years," WTF board Chairman Matthew Harris said in an email interview. "She is a well-known rising star in the New York theater scene, has come to Williamstown regularly to see our stuff, and specifically was someone we targeted and got to know very well during the last search."
Harris said Greenfield was uniquely qualified for Will iams town where the artistic director functions as chief executive, unlike many theaters that have both an artistic director and a managing director, each of whom reports to the board.
"We wouldn't be well-served with someone who had great artistic chops but couldn't manage an organization, nor would we be satisfied with a great executive leader who didn't have an artistic vision," Harris said.
"At MTC, (Mandy) was active across the entire spectrum of artistic duties, from commissioning straight through to thinking about how best to market her productions, and everything in between.
"Before MTC, she ran her own theater company (Blue Light Theatre Company in New York), and similarly had ‘soup to nuts' responsibility. So the first, most rare and most important quality she brings is this combination of artistic and executive talent, whereby she can be a fully featured leader of our organization."
Greenfield sees WTF as a "community of artists in a community of culturally savvy and astute people.
"I love writers," she said. "I love living writers taking big risks and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding (and understanding that) it's okay if they don't.
"I'm after work that engages the audience; that involves the audience in process. I want the audience to connect."
Greenfield is a member of the Broadway League and serves on the advisory board of the Drama League. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University and lives in New York with her husband, who works in finance, and their two children, ages 5 and 3.
"Everyone I've spoken to who has worked at Williams town talks of that place as a setting that feeds their artistic soul; an artistically pure place in which things can happen; where they can do the kind of work they cannot do elsewhere," Greenfield said.
"I believe artists give their best in a setting like that; where artistic quality combines with artistic alchemy. There is something very rich in that. I want us, in the end, to make work that matters."