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.