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Who we are

Since 1955, 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 COMMUNITY WORKS, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs. While best known for acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to one of the nation’s top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theater 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 Progress Report on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, Anti-Racism, and Anti-Oppression at WTF

Published February 3, 2022

In 2020, Williamstown Theatre Festival made a commitment to anti-racism and entered a period of learning, reflection, analysis, and action. In the months since, we have heard from current and former Festival trainees, employees, and participants—in communications both public and private—about the need to dismantle old systems and build an organization that is structurally and culturally more equitable, diverse, inclusive, accessible, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive. Additionally, we have consulted with, listened to, and learned from individuals and entities who are expert in organizational transformation through the lenses of anti-racism and anti-oppression. We are grateful for these insights; they have informed our evolution.

Now, in February of 2022, we offer a report on our progress toward building a more equitable, diverse, inclusive, accessible, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive Festival. The actions outlined below represent a shift in the model, practices, and culture of Williamstown Theatre Festival. They reshape many aspects of the Festival’s workplace culture, training programs, and approach to artistic development, programming, and production; they impact everyone who participates in the Festival, including year-round and seasonal staff, artists, trainees, trustees, and audiences.

Read the Full Progress Report

A Brief History of the Festival

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

David Bryant and Nikos Psacharapoulos, 1955

David Bryant and Nikos Psacharapoulos, 1955

They were joined by music professor Irwin Shainman and Louis Rudnick, 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, Williamstown Summer Theatre—later renamed 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 of the Dean of the 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 theater to plan a second.


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, more than 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 ambitious work, including The Greeks and a two-night celebration of Tennessee Williams with the playwright in residence.

After an extraordinary and visionary 33 years as the head of 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 theater 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 theaters across the country. In 2002, 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 to 2010. In 2011, former associate producer Jenny Gersten was named artistic director, and in the same year, WTF received the Commonwealth Award for Achievement, the highest cultural honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many of the shows Jenny produced transferred following their runs in Williamstown. Her final season, in 2014, saw three of six shows transfer directly to Broadway: Fool for Love by Sam Shepard, Living on Love by Joe DiPietro, and The Visit with book by Terrance McNally, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander. The Visit was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015. Mandy Greenfield was appointed artistic director of Williamstown Theatre Festival in September of 2014 and served until October of 2021. Under Mandy’s direction, Williamstown Theatre Festival grew support, resources, and a commitment to diverse, generative artists, with a particular focus on playwrights and composers. Martyna Mayok’s Cost of Living, which was developed and premiered at the Festival, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In November of 2021, Jenny Gersten rejoined the Festival as Interim Artistic Director.

In the seven decades since its founding, Williamstown Theatre Festival has grown and evolved to meet the unique opportunities and challenges of each moment, yet its overarching goals have remained constant: to attract top talent, cultivate early-career theater-makers, produce reinterpreted versions of classics and new plays from gifted generative artists, and continue to attract audiences with the quality and ambition of the Festival’s 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)

Phone: 413.458.3253

June 8—July 3: Tuesday—Saturday from 12—5pm; Closed Sundays & Mondays

July 6—August 8: Tuesday—Sunday from 12—8pm; Closed Mondays

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)

1560 Broadway, Suite 1214
New York, NY, 10036
212.395.9090
212.395.9099 fax
wtfinfo@wtfestival.org

Publicity Contact

Rick Miramontez and Aaron Meier at DKC/O&M Co are WTF’s primary press agent throughout the year.
aaron@omdkc.com
212.695.7400
212.695.0876 fax

Staff

In the summer, we have nearly 300 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.

Justin Bell, Director of Production
Antonello Di Benedetto, Director of Audience Engagement
Jenny Gersten, Interim Artistic Director
Billy Issertell, Development Coordinator
Danielle King, Producer & Director of Organizational Culture
Nicky Longo, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Josh Martinez-Nelson, Director of Development & Communications
Lianna Rada-Hung, Artistic Associate
Emma Whittum, Business Manager

 

Board of Trustees

Jeffrey Johnson, Chairman
Joe Finnegan, Vice Chair
Kristen Johanson, Secretary
Donald B. Elitzer, Treasurer

Alicia B. Adams
Kate Burton
Rebecca Gold Cellana
Tom Fontana
Qadir Forbes
Olivia Howard
Todd Jick
Gary S. Levine
Richard Levy, Jr.
Maud S. Mandel
Rhon Manigault-Bryant
Katherine Kollath Peabody
Omar Sangare
Katie Hazlett Schmidt
Caren Pasquale Seckler
Margaret Gould Stewart
Brad Svrluga
Alex Volckhausen

Trustees Emeriti

Charles E. Balis
Stephen Birrell
Michele Moeller Chandler
Douglas Daft
Blythe Danner
Valerie P. Kennedy
James Giddens
Fredda Harris
Matthew C. Harris, Chair Emeritus
Joan B. Hunter
Ira Lapidus, Chair Emeritus
Paul Neely
Gwyneth Paltrow
William S. Reed
Jid Sprague
Joanne Woodward

The Guild

The Williamstown Theatre Festival Guild is a fun-loving, low-stress, guilt-free group of over 125 volunteers and local businesses. Our purpose is to foster a closer relationship between the community and the over 300 artists and administrators who inhabit our corner of the Berkshires every summer. We make company meals, promote the Festival, and provide local knowledge and assistance. Together we hope to create an engaging and memorable experience for all. If you would like to learn more about how you can participate, please email wtfestivalguild@gmail.com.

Find Us

By Phone: 413.458.3200
By Email: wtfinfo@wtfestival.org
By Snail Mail: PO Box 517
Williamstown, MA 01267