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WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL

Jenny Gersten returns to Williamstown Theatre Festival as interim artistic director; Mandy Greenfield resigns

No reason given for Greenfield's departure, which follows a season of staff decrying Festival's working conditions

WILLIAMSTOWN — Jenny Gersten, who helmed the Williamstown Theatre Festival from 2011 to 2014, once again is stepping into the role of artistic director on an interim basis.

Gersten, the first woman to hold the job of artistic director at Williamstown, left the festival in 2014 to take on the role of executive director of the Friends of the High Line in New York City. She also served as associate producer of the festival from 1996 to 2004.

Gersten was succeeded in September 2014 by Mandy Greenfield, who, according to a statement released by the WTF board of trustees, resigned in late October.

MANDYGREENFIELD

Williamstown Theater Festival Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield resigned from the festival "in late October," according to a news release. No reason was given. 

“As we take this next step toward the future of the Festival, we want to thank Mandy Greenfield for all of the work and support during her time here; and we wish her the best of luck on her next artistic journey,” Jeffrey Johnson, chairman of the WTF board of trustees, said in a statement. “With Mandy’s resignation, the board is thrilled to welcome Jenny Gersten back to the Festival community. She has a track record of success with the Festival and close relationships with all of our stakeholders.

“After eight years away, she also brings new, dynamic ideas to our organization. This balance will help us remain focused on our mission to be a generative force in American theater by concentrating on new work and reimagined revivals, robust training for emerging theater professionals and engaging a diverse community onstage, offstage and in the audience.”

While Gersten will oversee the 2022 theater season, she will remain producer at New York City Center, and also is a line producer of “Beetlejuice,” which opened on Broadway in April 2019 and is scheduled to reopen in April 2022.

Letter: Williamstown Theatre Festival needs shift in leadership

“The opportunity to come back to Williamstown is a genuine honor and, I believe, the right challenge for me at this time in my career,” Gersten said in the release. “This is such a meaningful opportunity to address some of valuable and honest feedback already received from the Festival’s staff, artists, and the broader Williamstown community, and to continue to listen and absorb. I look forward to being part of the ongoing evolution at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and working with the board, staff and community to imagine a paradigm shift which fosters values to make the theatre a thriving home for artists and audiences for many years to come.”

In the statement, Johnson did not elaborate on the reason for Greenfield’s resignation, the first mention of her leaving the festival. Greenfield’s resignation follows a season in which a sound crew walked off the set of “Row” as staff and interns decried working conditions and treatment. In September, a Los Angeles Times article reported that 75 WTF alumni had, in an eight-page letter, “alleged a pattern of dangerous working conditions, toxic working conditions and demanded changes to the treatment of its young arts workers.”

Gersten’s interim role, according to the release, will allow the trustees to execute a thorough nationwide search for a permanent artistic director. Details about the 2022 season will be announced during the first quarter of 2022.

“We have full confidence that Jenny’s interim role will help us further our future vision for the Festival and immediately expand on our success. She shares our collective drive and unwavering mission to create equitable and inclusive opportunities for aspiring theater professionals, bring award-winning and thought-provoking works to the stage and grow our program for the years ahead,” Johnson said.

Jennifer Huberdeau can be reached at jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6229. On Twitter: @BE_DigitalJen

Features Editor

Jennifer Huberdeau is The Eagle's features editor. Prior to The Eagle, she worked at The North Adams Transcript. She is a 2021 Rabkin Award Winner, 2020 New England First Amendment Institute Fellow and a 2010 BCBS Health Care Fellow.

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