Barry Edelstein Will Step Down as Classic Stage Company Artistic Director

News   Barry Edelstein Will Step Down as Classic Stage Company Artistic Director After five seasons as artistic director of Classic Stage Company, Barry Edelstein will depart the Off-Broadway theatre this summer.
Michael Reid as Mamillius, David Strathairn as Leontes and Barbara
Garrick as Hermione in The Winter's Tale, directed by Barry Edelstein
Michael Reid as Mamillius, David Strathairn as Leontes and Barbara Garrick as Hermione in The Winter's Tale, directed by Barry Edelstein (Photo by Dixie Sheridan)

Edelstein's five-year goal of getting the troupe secure enough to mount a Shakespeare play is realized in his current staging of The Winter's Tale, the first Shakespeare at CSC in 16 years. The late romance by Shakespeare, a favorite play of the director, is the high point of his work at CSC, he said. He told his staff and cast of his future plans in recent days.

The 35-year-old company is now seeking a new artistic director. Edelstein will remain a board member and will plan fall 2003 programming for the troupe. He leaves the company in the black, financially, he said, and looks forward to resuming his previous career as a free-lancing director.

"I made a promise to the board and myself when I was hired that my five-year plan was to get the theatre strong enough to do a full production of a Shakespeare," Edelstein said. "To me, I felt like you can't be a classic theatre company in the English language unless you're doing Shakespeare, so that was where I set the bar."

Edelstein is proud of his Winter's Tale, which officially opens Jan. 30 after more rehearsal time and more preview time than usual for a CSC show (the cast size and scope of the show are larger than other works done there).

"It seemed a good time to take stock and take a look at some other things that were happening in my personal life," he said. High on his list of personal "things" will be his fall marriage to TV and film actress Hilit Pace. Part of his decision was prompted by a frustration felt by many artistic directors who are, by the nature of the job, required to be both artist and businessperson.

Edelstein said, "Any artistic director has two halves: One is administrator and one is artist, and I just want a chance to go back to being an artist full-time and reduce the proportion of my life that's involved in administration and fundraising; to favor what I do best, and what I love doing, which is directing plays. My plan is to go back to being director, full-time, and continue developing projects of various kinds."

His wish list includes a production of Richard III that he's been discussing with John Turturro.

"I also want to do some writing and I want to have more time for my personal life and for travel," he said. "I don't have anything concrete lined up. There are things that are commercial projects in development that are too early to talk about on the record, but that I suspect will materialize in the not-too-distance future."

At CSC, Edelstein directed The Underpants (2002), Race (2001), The Alchemist (2000), Hurricane (2000) and The Misanthrope with Roger Rees and Uma Thurman (1999). For Roundabout Theatre Company, he helmed the Lucille Lortel-winning All My Sons. For The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival he staged Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice.

David Esbjornson and Carey Perloff preceded Edelstein in the CSC job.

A graduate of Tufts University, Edelstein holds a master's degree in English Renaissance Drama from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Classic Stage Company, which presents at its home on East 13th Street, is the Off-Broadway theatre that reimagines the classics for contemporary audiences. Anne Tanaka is the company's producing director. For more information, visit http://www.csc.org.

David Strathairn as Leontes in CSC's production of <i>The Winter's Tale</i> directed by Barry Edelstein
David Strathairn as Leontes in CSC's production of The Winter's Tale directed by Barry Edelstein (Photo by Dixie Sheridan)