Harvard University and the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) announced today the appointment of Diane Paulus as Artistic Director. She will be the third artistic leader of the A.R.T., following founding director Robert Brustein (1980 – 2002) and Robert Woodruff (2002 – 2007). Ms. Paulus is a critically acclaimed director of theatre and opera; her productions have garnered multiple Obie awards, and she is one of the most highly regarded theatre artists in the country. She will begin her responsibilities in the fall with the planning of the 2009-2010 season.
Ms. Paulus’ relationship with the A.R.T. began over 20 years ago when she was an undergraduate at Harvard. In her words “I feel my perspective on theatre was shaped by my years attending the A.R.T.“ She has gone on to direct a distinguished repertoire of work that has drawn acclaim from remarkably diverse audiences and critics around the world. Equally at home with plays, musical theatre, and opera, her body of work includes The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which ran for six years Off-Broadway and toured internationally; Another Country by James Baldwin at Riverside Church; the Obie-award winning Eli’s Comin’, featuring the music and lyrics of Laura Nyro; the 40th Anniversary Concert Production of HAIR in Central Park for the Public Theatre; and Don Giovanni, The Turn of the Screw, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Così fan tutte, all for the Chicago Opera Theater.
“The A.R.T. is an organization that is uniquely positioned to strengthen the place and the role of the arts at Harvard University and in the broader Cambridge and Boston communities,” said President Drew Faust. “I am very pleased to welcome Diane Paulus back to Harvard at this exciting point in time when we are actively studying ways in which to integrate arts more closely into the life and the curriculum of the University. She is an accomplished director with an interest in and a talent for engaging young people. Diane will be an important part of our efforts to build new partnerships between the A.R.T. and the university community at large – faculty, students and the administration. I look forward to Diane’s first season with great anticipation.”
“I am very happy that Diane Paulus has agreed to become the theatre’s next artistic director,” said Provost Steven Hyman who chaired the search committee comprised of Harvard faculty, members of the theatre’s fiduciary and advisory boards, and outside artists. “I believe that Diane will become a central figure in the new cultural dialogue at Harvard and I look forward to supporting her as she guides us to a new period of excitement and exchange between the A.R.T., the University, and the local, national and international theatre communities.”
Provost Hyman also added that he would like to thank the members of the search committee for their diligence and hard work in finding such an outstanding leader. “I am very pleased with how well the committee has worked together. The sustained energy and passion that committee members – representing various A.R.T. and university constituencies – gave to this search makes me very hopeful about future collaborations.”
Asked to comment on the appointment, Ms. Paulus responded: “I am deeply honored to be appointed Artistic Director of the A.R.T. When I was a student at Harvard, there was no question the A.R.T. was the most exciting and vibrant theatre in America. I am thrilled to build on that legacy, and lead the A.R.T. into the future, creating a home for the next generation of outstanding theatre artists who will redefine and revitalize the meaning of theatre for our society and for the community. I am very impressed with President Faust’s commitment to the arts, and I plan to work closely with Harvard to examine how the A.R.T. can be more fully integrated into the life of the university. ”
A.R.T. Executive Director Robert J. Orchard heralded the appointment saying: “I am both excited and proud to have an artist we helped nurture take the organization into a dynamic new era. Please join me in welcoming Diane into our growing family, and supporting her as she leads us down new artistic paths and reaffirms our dedication to creating the most compelling, thought-provoking theatre in the country.”
Trained as a dancer and a student of classical music, Ms. Paulus’ work fuses the traditional with contemporary and popular culture across a variety of genres, including theatre, opera, rock, and innovative jazz-inflected pieces. She received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa; and has an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her recent theatre work also includes Lost Highway (based on the David Lynch film) for the English National Opera and the Young Vic; Turandot: Rumble for the Ring, co-created with Randy Weiner at the Bay Street Theatre; The Golden Mickeys for Disney Creative Entertainment; Best of Both Worlds, a gospel /R&B adaptation of A Winter’s Tale produced by Music-Theatre Group and The Women’s Project; The Karaoke Show, an adaptation of The Comedy of Errors, set in a karaoke bar. She also directed the Obie Award–winning and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Running Man by jazz composer Diedre Murray and poet Cornelius Eady, and Swimming with Watermelons, created in association with Project 400, the theatre company she co-founded with Randy Weiner. As an opera director, her productions also include all three Monteverdi operas Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo at Chicago Opera Theater. She is a frequent collaborator with British conductor Jane Glover; in 2002, their critically acclaimed production of Orfeo was presented as part of The Monteverdi Cycle at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This coming summer, she will be directing a production of Kiss Me Kate at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and the revival of Hair for the Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
Ms. Paulus has been teaching at Barnard College/Columbia University, and the Yale School of Drama. She and her husband, writer and producer Randy Weiner, have two small children.