Who we are

Since 1955, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought America’s finest actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. Each WTF season is designed to present unique opportunities for artists and audience alike, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs. While best known for our acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to one of the nation’s top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theatre artists and administrators. WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011.

Our mission

  • To produce classic and new plays with distinction and verve, and to present artists with production opportunities and challenges seldom available elsewhere.

  • To provide a training program in which emerging theater talents collaborate with accomplished mentors in a vital, professional, and educational atmosphere.

  • To create and present programs that serve and engage a diverse community.

A Brief History of the Festival

During the winter of 1954, Ralph Renzi (Williams ’43), News Director of Williams College, and David C. Bryant, chairman of the College’s active drama program, conceived the idea of using the Adams Memorial Theatre on the Williams College campus for a summer theater with a resident company.

David Bryant and Nikos Psacharapoulos, 1955

David Bryant and Nikos Psacharapoulos, 1955

They were joined by music professor Irwin Shainman as Treasurer and Louis Rudnick (Williams ’15), chairman of the Williamstown Board of Selectman, who was elected President of the new Foundation—a position he held for 17 years. Robert C. Sprague, President of Sprague Electric, became a leading financial advisor. With the help of the Board of Trade, local businessmen and town residents including Cole Porter, the Williamstown Summer Theatre—later renamed the Williamstown Theatre Festival—was formed with $9,000 in the bank.

Intending to produce ten plays in ten weeks, director Bryant sought out an associate who could direct half the season. On the strong recommendation from the Dean of Yale School of Drama, Nikos Psacharopoulos was appointed. A 26-member company was assembled from young New York Professionals, Yale actors and alumni, and a few students from Williamstown.

The first season was successful enough for the theatre to plan a second.

Read more

When Bryant left Williams the following year, Nikos became Artistic Director, and the Festival’s repertory became increasingly ambitious with productions of Shaw, Giradoux, Miller, Williams and Chekhov. A growing family of actors evolved including Mildred Dunnock, E.G. Marshall and Thornton Wilder, later joined by the likes of Blythe Danner, Olympia Dukakis, Edward Herrmann, Kate Burton, James Naughton and Christopher Reeve, whose return year after year gave stability to the Equity company.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Williamstown became known for innovative versions of classics: The Seagull (taped for PBS), Galileo, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Peer Gynt and The Threepenny Opera. By this time over 100 people worked in the theater every summer. Auxiliary activities began to supplement the Main Stage: the Apprentice Workshop, an experimental Second Company, lively late-night cabarets, Sunday literary events and new play readings. The 1980s saw some of the WTF’s most ambitious work—The Greeks, a two-night celebration of Tennessee Williams with the playwright in residence, premieres on the other Stage and launch of the popular outdoor Free Theatre. Many projects transferred to Broadway, Off-Broadway and television.

After an extraordinary and visionary 33 years as the head of the WTF, Nikos Psacharopoulos passed away in 1989. Following a 35th season dedicated to his memory run by a troika of Peter Hunt, Austin Pendleton and George Morfogen, Hunt, named Artistic Director, gave a new focus to musical theatre and American classics. In 1996, long-time WTF stage manager Michael Ritchie became Producer. During his eight years at the helm, nearly two dozen productions transferred to Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres across the country. In 2002, the Williamstown Theatre Festival received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Ritchie was succeeded in 2005 by Roger Rees, who encouraged new writing and emphasized the importance of the Apprentice in the life of the Festival. Former WTF resident director Nicholas Martin served as Artistic Director from 2008-2010. In 2011, WTF received the Commonwealth Award for Achievement, the highest cultural honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Former Associate Producer Jenny Gersten led the Festival from 2011-2014 and Mandy Greenfield assumed the role of Artistic Director in September 2014.

Through these 60 years, the Festival’s goals remain constant: to attract top talent, cultivate young artists, produce reinterpreted versions of classics and new plays from gifted playwrights and to continue to attract audiences with the quality and ambition of our work.

Contact Us

While many questions can be answered by the Festival Box Office at 413.458.3253, here’s how to reach members of the WTF staff.

Box Office (June-August)

413.458.3253

Williamstown Office (September-May)

PO Box 517
Williamstown, MA 01267-0517
413.458.3200
413.458.3147 fax
wtfinfo@wtfestival.org

NYC Office (September-May)

229 West 42nd Street, Suite 801
New York, NY, 10036-7205
212.395.9090
212.395.9099 fax
wtfinfo@wtfestival.org

Publicity Contact

Rick Miramontez and Collin Yarusso at DKC/O&M Co are WTF’s primary press agent throughout the year.

collin@omdkc.com

212.695.7400
212.695.0876 fax

Staff

In the summer, we have nearly 400 talented individuals working on the Festival.  In the balance of the year, our intrepid full-time staff lays all of the groundwork for the season.

Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director
Antonello Di Benedetto
, Director of Audience Engagement, 413.458.3253
Juliet Flynt, Archivist
Kate Hyde, Communications Manager
Brandon Kahn
, Producing Manager
Zach Krohn, Associate General Manager
Aileen Lambert, Artistic Assistant
Josh Martinez-Nelson, Director of Development & Communications, 413.597.4630
Jason McDowell-Green, Director, Professional Training Program
Eric Nottke
, Director of Production & Operations
Amy Russell, Director of Finance
Laura Savia
, Associate Artistic Director
Grace Singleton, Development & Special Events Coordinator

 

Board of Trustees

Matthew C. Harris, Chairman
Ira Lapidus, Past Chair
Joe Finnegan, Vice Chair
Jeffrey Johnson, Vice Chair
Donald B. Elitzer, Treasurer
Annie Pell, Secretary

Alicia B. Adams
William Bowden
Kate Burton
Rebecca Gold Cellana
Laurence D. Cherkis
Wade Davis
Adam Falk
Tom Fontana
James Giddens
Fredda Harris
Amy Holzapfel
Todd Jick
Kristen Johanson
Valerie P. Kennedy
Gary S. Levine
Rhon Manigault-Bryant
Elliott Masie
Barbara McLucas
James Naughton
Paul Neely
Katherine Kollath Peabody
Hon. Susan Phillips Read
Olivia Sabine
Katie Hazlett Schmidt
Caren Pasquale Seckler
Bradley Svrluga
Alex Volckhausen

Trustees Emeriti

Charles E. Balis
Stephen Birrell
Marge Champion
Michele Moeller Chandler
Douglas Daft
Blythe Danner
Joan B. Hunter
Gwyneth Paltrow
William S. Reed
Jid Sprague
Jean Kennedy Smith
Fred A. Windover
Joanne Woodward

 

The Guild

The Festival Guild is a local volunteer organization that works to foster a closer relationship between the Williamstown community and the members of the WTF company. Now with over 50 active members, the Guild makes company meals, promotes the Festival in the community, and provides local knowledge and assistance to the artists, technicians, staff, and their families, creating a fun, engaging, and memorable experience for all. If you’d like to learn more on how you can participate, please email wtfestivalguild@gmail.com.

Find Us

’62 Center for Theatre and Dance
1000 Main Street | Williamstown, MA
Box Office 413.458.3253