The Playgoer: Bart Sher: On the Move?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bart Sher: On the Move?

NYT's Patrick Healy tries to get a rumor going about NY director of the moment Bartlett Sher finally packing up and leaving Seattle's Intiman, where he is still nominally Artistic Director, to settle into some role as "heir apparent" at Lincoln Center Theater. I don't see Andre Bishop stepping down any time soon, and both he and Sher deny it, of course. But it wouldn't surprise anyone to know there may be some "grooming" going on.

(Sher is already "resident director" at LCT. And as Healy confirms, Intiman plans to announce soon some "power sharing" arrangement with a new appointment.)

Gossip aside, though, there is a larger question: what do we make of jetsetting regional theater Artistic Directors who spend more time in NYC than in their "home" town? Lord knows, there have been several. Jack O'Brien ran a veritable Broadway empire for years out of the Old Globe. Ditto Des McAnuff at LaJolla. (And now at Canada's Stratford Festival.)

Kind of reminds me of Mike Daisey's image in "How Theater Failed America" of NY actors being freeze-dried and flown into random cities for their six weeks before being sent back to NY. If our "regionals" need to build stronger bonds with their local communities, shouldn't it start at the top? With Artistic Directors truly living and working there year-round?

I ask this, knowing full well that, like actors, a theater artist in American usually must be NY-based to maximize employment opportunities. (Opportunities not just in NYC but all the companies that cast & hire out of here.) Still, boards should keep in mind when hiring what do they want: a marquee name to attract funders? or an artist who will serve the community full time?


Anonymous said...

Many in Seattle would be happy to see him go.

Playgoer said...

UPDATE, 6/25/09:

Intiman has indeed named a new co-AD who they will phase in as a replacement for Sher. Kate Whoriskey. Big move for a young director, and an encouraging move from Intiman to invest in the next generation.