Women in Theatre Leadership: Challenges, Choices, and Change | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

Women in Theatre Leadership: Challenges, Choices, and Change

  • Women in Theatre Leadership: Challenges, Choices, and Change
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In the American Theatre, there is an unfortunate paucity of women in top leadership roles. The role of the Artistic Director in the American Theatre is that of both chief executive, principal artist, and public figure. According to the 2016 Wellesley Centers for Women’s "Women’s Leadership in Resident Theaters" Final Report, “In the last two decades, women have not held more than about 25% of artistic or executive director positions in theater members of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) in any one year.”

Join us on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:00 pm at Lewis Center for the Arts in Princeton for a panel discussion featuring four of New Jersey’s female Artistic Directors:

  • Emily Mann, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton
  • Bonnie Monte, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Madison
  • C. Ryanne Domingues, Passage Theatre, Trenton
  • Ari Laura Kreith, Luna Stage, West Orange

The panelists will share the arcs of their lives and work in theatre from their origin stories to breaking into the business and artistic leadership; talk about opportunities they’ve grasped or created for themselves, and obstacles and challenges they’ve faced; discuss concerns of the present moment in the American Theatre, from equity and inclusion initiatives to the #metoo movement; and they’ll offer thoughts on strategies for transformative change and leadership in the twenty-first century, as well as reflect on their artistic goals and legacies.

The discussion will be moderated by Paula Alekson, Artistic Engagement Manager at McCarter Theatre Center, and will be opened to audience questions and comment.

Please join us for a reception following the panel. This is a free event but reservations are recommended. Make reservations.

The event is a partnership between the New Jersey Historical Commission and New Jersey Theatre Alliance's Stages Festival.

The Stages Festival         New Jersey Historical Commission

Emily Mann, McCarter Theater CenterEmily Mann’s nearly 50 McCarter directing credits include productions by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, and Williams and the recent world premieres of Christopher Durang’s Turning Off the Morning News; Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express; Rachel Bonds’ Five Mile Lake; Danai Gurira’s The Convert; Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why; Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon; and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I. Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics, Execution of Justice, Having Our Say. Her plays: Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth; Execution of Justice; Still Life; Annulla, An Autobiography; Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; Mrs. Packard, and Hoodwinked (a Primer on Radical Islamism). Her new play Gloria: A Life about the legacy of Gloria Steinem is currently running Off-Broadway in New York.  Adaptations: Baby Doll, Scenes from a Marriage, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, A Seagull in the Hamptons, The House of Bernarda Alba, Antigone. Currently in development: The Pianist. Awards include Peabody, Hull Warriner, NAACP, Obie's, Guggenheim; Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; a Princeton University Honorary Doctorate of Arts, a Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights' Award, and the Margo Jones Award.

Bonnie J. Monte is now in her 28th season as Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Under her leadership, the Theatre has evolved into one of the most respected classical theatres in the nation. She is currently working on Act II: The Legacy Project, the Theatre’s new campaign to ensure a permanent workspace and education center for the company. Bonnie was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Arts in New Jersey by The Star Ledger. From 2013 - 2016, Bonnie collaborated with Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on their Winter Shakespeare Series presenting three events melding Shakespeare’s text with symphonic music. She also directed shows for the Theatre’s Shakespeare LIVE! touring company including The Myths of Ancient Greece: Old Echoes, New Ears, which she also authored. Bonnie has been actively involved in the training of new talent for the American stage through numerous training programs for over 35 years and has also engaged in residencies at various universities across the nation. She obtained a conservatory degree in directing from The Hartman Conservatory and a BA in theatre from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. She has Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Drew University and the College of Saint Elizabeth.

C. Ryanne Domingues became Passage Theatre Company’s Artistic Director in 2017. She has worked for a number of theatres on both the East and West Coasts, including The Wilma Theater, InterAct Theatre Company, Plays & Players Theatre, South Coast Repertory, California Shakespeare Theater, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. She also co-founded and served as the Producing Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s Simpatico Theatre from 2004-2010. Ryanne has directed for a number of universities including LaSalle, Bloomsburg, and most recently, Princeton’s Triangle Show. She has participated in the 2008 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and the La MaMa Umbria International Symposium for Directors, and sits on the board of Directors Gathering (DG), a service organization that provides education and process-based opportunities for theatre directors. Ryanne received her MFA in Directing from the University of California, Irvine. Next up, she will be directing Morir Sonyando at Passage this May before heading into rehearsals for Assistants! the musical, which will perform off-Broadway this June.

Ari Laura Kreith is in her first season as Artistic Director of Luna Stage, where she recently directed Pirira and is currently directing Heartland. She is also the founder and Artistic Director of NYC-based Theatre 167, where she conceived and directed The Jackson Heights Trilogy —167 Tongues, You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase, and Jackson Heights 3AM — three full-length plays collaboratively written by 18 playwrights featuring 37 actors in 93 roles in 14 languages, inspired by the world’s most diverse neighborhood. Other directing highlights include Mourning Sun, which premiered at Theatre 167 and toured to Uganda; the world premiere of Tina Howe’s Singing Beach; commissions for Queens Theatre and the New Ohio; and the European premiere of Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns. Ari has developed immersive, site-specific projects for Luna Stage, Queens Museum and the NY Transit Museum. With Theatre 167, Ari received the 2015 NYIT Caffe Cino Award for consistently producing outstanding innovative theatre. She also received the 2016 LPTW Lucille Lortel Award in recognition of her work as a director and the body of work Theatre 167 has created under her leadership. Ari grew up in 27 countries. BA: Yale University. MFA: UC Davis.

Paula T. Alekson is McCarter Theatre Center’s Artistic Engagement Manager. She oversees audience engagement and community outreach initiatives including artist discussions, scholarly panels, Inside Story pre-show talks, McCarter’s Adult
School class, Community Think, and other events that offer opportunities for learners of all ages to deepen and enhance the experience of the work on McCarter’s stages. Paula holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brandeis University and Ph.D. in Drama from Tufts University.