NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).-
John Doyle, artistic director of Classic Stage Company since 2016, announced Monday that he would step down from the off-Broadway theater next summer.
I feel like its somebody elses turn, Doyle, 68, said in a video interview from Britain. Its as simple as that. I think art is better with a kind of turnover.
Classic Stage Company on Monday also revealed its 2021-22 season, Doyles last with the company. The productions are Stephen Sondheim and John Weidmans Assassins; Marcus Gardleys black odyssey; Frances Ya-Chu Cowhigs Snow in Midsummer; and Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNallys A Man of No Importance.
Doyle, a Tony Award-winner in 2006 for his revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, will direct the musicals Assassins and A Man of No Importance.
Assassins, which will be Classic Stage Companys first in-person production since the start of the pandemic, a return to in-person performance for the theater, was in rehearsals last year when New York theaters were closed to slow the coronaviruss spread.
Given the events of the past year and a half, Doyle said, storytellers must be addressing the stories they tell.
How they tell those stories, why they tell those stories, who are they for? he said. We have to pick up that responsibility very strongly.
Doyle has also asked of Classic Stage Company: What does it mean for a piece of theater to be a classic today?
It need no longer mean plays by dead, white, European men, Doyle said. Which is inevitably what most classical theater has been.
Two of the coming seasons works black odyssey, directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, and Snow in Midsummer, directed by Zi Alikhan, both planned for the first half of 2022 are by living artists of color. Both re-imagine classic stories: Homers The Odyssey and Guan Hanqings The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth.
Those plays, Doyle said, are trying to take the worldwide stories and make those available to the modern audience, in the hope and intention of bringing in new audiences into the theater.
A Man of No Importance resonates with Doyle. Its a musical about a Celtic man (Doyle is Scottish) making theater for his local community (which Doyle once did).
It celebrates what theater can do, and it celebrates how theater can make change, Doyle said. And Im hoping that my leaving will help to make more change. And Im hoping that my doing a piece about how spiritual, in a way, the theater can be, in terms of how it touches our souls, is a nice way to leave.
Reflecting on his tenure, Doyle said he was especially proud of reconfiguring the physical space of the theater itself. It really feels like a New York space to me now, not just a black box, he said. Plays come and go, but the space stays. And it is a truly remarkable space.
His departure is not a retirement. Doyle said that the pandemic made him realize the importance of family, self and quiet time, but that theater remains as important to him as ever. And although he would like to spend more time in the Scottish Highlands with his husband, he has no plans to leave New York anytime soon.
Im really hopeful that I could do another Broadway show or two, before I pop my clogs, as we say in Britain, Doyle said. I would love that.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times