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Changing of the Guard at Williamstown Theater Festival


The artistic director of the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival has stepped down after complaints from some employees about long working conditions there.

The festival said Monday that Mandy Greenfield, who has been the artistic director, since 2014had resigned late last month. Jenny Gersten, who led the festival from 2010 to 2014, returns as Artistic Interim Director in the search for a new leader.

The summer festival, which takes place in the Berkshires region of western Massachusetts and traditionally relies in part on a pool of young seasonal workers, provided no reason for the change of leadership. But it follows a few reports in The Los Angeles Times detailing employee concerns – sound crew members who objected to working outside, during a show in a reflecting pool, in rainy weather, and former employees, many of them former interns, voicing other security concerns.

The festival said in a press release that the leadership change “will deliver a vision of the future that not only extends the festival’s revered legacy, but also one that is responsible, safe and equitable for all.”

In a statement, Greenfield said her “goal as an artistic director was to swing in front of the fences, make art and try to improve and evolve every day.”

“In 2019, I refused to renew a multi-year contract offered to me by the Festival; Although I was flattered to be asked to continue, I agreed to stay on for two years instead, from year to year,” she said. “I have also made a public commitment to leadership transition because I strongly believe, influenced by British tradition, that theater institutions should empower new, diverse leaders at regular, shorter intervals than is customary in the United States.”

Credit…Stewart Cairns for The New York Times

Greenfield’s tenure has been marked by a notable number of artistic successes, including Broadway transfers for “Grand Horizons”, “The Sound Inside”, “The Rose Tattoo”, “Fool for Love” and “Living on Love”, as well as multiple Off Broadway performances. transfers .

Gersten has held various positions in the theater world. She currently serves as a musical theater producer at the New York City Center and is a line producer on “Beetlejuice,” which returns to Broadway next spring. She plans to continue in both roles.

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