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Changing of the guard at Williamstown Theater Festival
Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theater Festival, in New York, on March 13, 2017. Greenfield, who resigned as artistic director of the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival stepped down after complaints by some employees about longstanding working conditions there. Rebecca Smeyne/The New York Times.

by Michael Paulson

NEW YORK, NY.- The artistic director of the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival has stepped down after complaints by some employees about working conditions there.

The festival said Monday that Mandy Greenfield, who has been the artistic director since 2014, had resigned late last month. Jenny Gersten, who had led the festival from 2010-14, will return as interim artistic director during the search for a new leader.

The summer festival, which runs in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts and has traditionally relied in part on a pool of young seasonal workers, did not offer a reason for the change of leadership. But it follows a pair of reports in The Los Angeles Times detailing concerns by employees — sound crew members who objected to working outdoors, on a show set in a reflecting pool, during rainy weather, and former employees, many of them onetime interns, who expressed other safety concerns.

The festival said in a news release that the leadership change “will ensure a future vision that not only expands on the Festival’s well-respected legacy, but one that is accountable, safe and equitable for all.”

In a statement, Greenfield said that her “goal as artistic director was to swing for the fences, make art and try to improve and evolve every day.”

“In 2019, I declined to renew a multiyear contract offered to me by the Festival; while flattered to be asked to continue, I agreed instead to stay on for two years, on a year-to-year basis,” she said. “I also publicly committed to leadership transition as I deeply believe, influenced by the British tradition, that theatrical institutions must empower new, diverse leaders in regular, shorter intervals than is the custom in the United States.”

Greenfield’s tenure featured a notable number of artistic successes, including Broadway transfers for “Grand Horizons,” “The Sound Inside,” “The Rose Tattoo,” “Fool for Love” and “Living on Love,” as well as multiple off-Broadway transfers.

Gersten has held a variety of positions in the theater world. Currently, she is producer of musical theater at New York City Center, and is a line producer of “Beetlejuice,” which is returning to Broadway next spring. She plans to continue in both of those roles.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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