"J planned a complex and exciting conference for this summer, integrating both our Playwrights and Music Theater Conferences for the first time but for personal reasons chose to withdraw," O'Neill Board Chairman Tom Viertel announced in a release about the resignation of Ranelli. "He is a man of extraordinary vision. We all wish him well and hope that he will continue be involved in O'Neill programs for many years to come."
The sudden development adds to the turmoil the O'Neill has suffered through during the past year. In September 2003, the Playwrights Conference at the Center had announced the end of its open submission policy due to a growing debt and a lack of staff to handle the numerous plays submitted every year. The move was not welcome by the playwriting community from unknown and famous playwrights alike.
By October's end, O'Neill Playwrights Conference artistic director James Houghton announced his resignation, citing exclusion from the board's reorganization plans to consolidate leadership.
Richard Kuranda, the O'Neill's artistic associate and producer of the current Playwrights and Music Theater Conferences, will assume duties as the Interim Artistic Director. Kuranda is the artistic director of New York's Epic Repertory Theatre, a former head of operations at the Signature Theatre and recently the Director of Professional Development for The Actors Studio Drama School.
Ranelli, who took part in the first days of the O’Neill Center, directed more than 50 projects at the venue as well as regionally at The Actors Studio, The American Place Theatre, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Cleveland Play House, Guthrie II, Hartford Stage, The Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Mark Taper Forum, The New Repertory Project, Roundabout Theater Company and the National Theatre of the Deaf. On Broadway, he directed the original plays Herzl and Einstein and the Polar Bear. The new summer season, which features three new musicals — River's End, .22 Caliber Mouth and Hell Hole Honeys — kicked off July 11. The plays and musicals selected for the Playwrights and Music Theater conferences will continue through July 31.
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center was founded in 1964 and based in Waterford, CT. Programs at the Center include the Puppetry Conference, Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute, Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute. The Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home, is also owned and operated by the group.
For more information on the O'Neill Center, visit the website at www.TheONeill.org or call (860) 443-5378.