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New Director Excited For Next Chapter

The Williamstown Theatre Festival has named a new artistic director.

Come September 2014, the festival will be under new artistic guidance. Mandy Greenfield will take over for Jenny Gersten, who’s been at the helm since 2010. Greenfield is currently the artistic producer of the Manhattan Theatre Club, where she has been since 2003. She says she hopes to make it to Williamstown this summer, a place she’s been to many times as a tourist, fan and ticket buyer.

“What can we do in the beauty, comfort and professionally sound atmosphere of the Williamstown Theatre Festival that we can’t do elsewhere in the American theater?” Greenfield asked. “Those are questions I’m extremely excited to get inside of, to tackle and answer. And to answer with people who have the same sort of artistic priorities, cultural hopes and investment in the place that I do.”

Matt Harris chairs the festival’s Board of Trustees. He says Greenfield was his first and only call when Gersten announced she was going to be leaving in January. The two had gotten to know each other during the search process to fill the position Gersten ended up receiving three years ago.

“Mandy is a really celebrated New York City producer at the Manhattan Theatre Club,” Harris said. “She’s done a great job there and she’s been recognized as such. So convincing her to take this job in the Berkshires was far from a sure thing. I think for her though, the appeal of having a platform where she could be the leader, she could set the agenda and I think the 60 years of tradition we have at Williamstown gave her the confidence that it was a strong enough, robust enough platform for her to execute her vision.”

Harris says Greenfield offers the rare combination of a creative mind coupled with executive leadership skills to lead the festival toward a thriving theatrical and financial future.

“Mandy brings a set of ideas that we think can power us and indeed redefine us for our next 60 years,” he said. “So we expect a great deal from her. Not just in terms of putting on great theater, but in terms of bringing great ideas to the table that help us think about what it means to be a theatre company in 2013, 2014 and beyond.”

In her role at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Greenfield has been responsible for programming two Off-Broadway theaters while collaborating on programming for the club’s permanent Broadway home, The Samuel J. Freidman Theater. While her new title will be director, she insists she will remain a producer in her work.

“It’s ultimately about asking the best of artists,” Greenfield said. “Really asking them to make their experience at Williamstown Theatre Festival count because if it counts for them it will count for the audience and that’s ultimately what I think we are all after.”

Before taking on her new role as executive director of Friends of the High Line in New York City, Gersten will announce the 2014 season lineup in January, which she has programmed. Harris says Gersten’s crafting of the Festival’s 60th season will be a crescendo of the work she has done over the past three years, during which she moved multiple shows directly to Broadway.

“You come to this town of 6,000 people and you see theater that will go on to delight a city of six million months later,” Harris said. “That’s one of the promises of Williamstown and Jenny was able to bring that.”

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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