Giving Voice to a New Generation of American Theatre Director

By: Suzanne Delle  

An Artistic Director is the face of their theatre in America. They chose the season deciding which playwrights’ work will be seen, and hire the artistic staff which includes the actors who tread the boards on their stages. They are truly the gatekeepers for which stories are told in their communities. In the past two years over forty Artistic Directors in American theatres retired or moved on. This was seen as an opportunity for those traditionally kept out of leadership roles to change the landscape of the American Regional Theatre movement. This study looks at the hopes of artists in this transitional time and as the hiring dust settles, the reality of who the next generation of Artistic Directors are and what their first seasons look like. Did Boards of Trustees look beyond the typical white, straight, male when looking at the future of their theatres? And did the new generation of Artistic Directors stray from the paths of their predecessors and chose contemporary, diverse voices for their inaugural seasons? As the political landscape in America changed dramatically after the November 2016 election, did American Theatre change in response?

Theatre, Arts and Diversity, Community Arts
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Suzanne Delle

Assistant Professor of Theatre, Communications & the Arts, York College of PA

Suzanne Delle has a MA in Arts Administration from Goucher College and a MFA in Directing from the Catholic University of America. She has worked in development and marketing at the Vineyard Theatre (NYC), Naked Angels Theatre Company, American Stage Festival, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. She was the Founding Artistic Director of Yellow Tax Productions in southern New Hampshire from 2002-2009 and under her leadership, the company commissioned 4 new plays and won numerous NH Theatre Awards including 3 Best Original Play awards. Suzanne has worked on shows that were invited to the Philly Fringe Festival, the San Francisco Fringe Festival and the 55th Dubrovnik Theatre Festival. She was selected as one of Manchester, NH Union Leader's 2004 Forty Under 40 and one of NH Magazine's Women in the Arts in 2007. She over saw the renovation and reopening of the 1880-era Casino Theatre in Newport, RI in 2010. She is the current Performance Review Editor of the Texas Theatre Journal and her publications include: Palace Theater: 100 Years of Performing Arts, "The Power of Imagination: the Fan Creation of Muggle Quidditch" in Harry Potter & The Fandom, and Fitting the Arts Into Education.