The Boston Globe reported May 23 that avant-garde director Robert Woodruff would likely succeed Robert Brustein as artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Brustein had announced he will step down at the end of the 2001-02 season, after more than two decades at the helm of the leading Boston-area company.
Woodruff has previously directed Brecht's In the Jungle of Cities and Charles Mee's Full Circle at A.R.T., and is responsible for the theatre's current offering, Richard II, which was greeted by mixed reviews and many walk-outs.
Woodruff's past is filled with serious-minded theatre pieces, including stagings of modern masters like Brecht, Chaikin and Beckett, and drastic, often graphic reinterpretations of dark classics from Webster and Middleton. He has been hired by theatres in every corner of the U.S., from Atlanta's Alliance and Minneapolis' Guthrie, to San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre and Chicago's Goodman Theatre. At New York's Theatre for a New Audience, he directed Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's rarely done 1622, The Changeling — a production that was a riot of black-on-black design, sex, blood and leather.
He is still perhaps best known, however, for staging the first productions of three of Sam Shepard's most important plays: The Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child and True West. The Globe described Woodruff as "a Brustein favorite," who invariably "dresse[es] in black, speaks infrequently and wear sunglasses indoors."
Woodruff would split creative duties with an associate director, to be named today, reported the paper. A.R.T. Co-founder Robert J. Orchard would rise to the new post of executive director. A.R.T. Was founded in 1980 in association with Harvard University. Past productions included an Endgame renounced by Beckett, Robert Wilson's the CIVIL WarS, Marsha Norman's 'night Mother, the musical Big River, Chekhov's Ivanov starring Debra Winger and Dario Fo's We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! starring Marisa Tomei. The upcoming season features a new production of Lysistrata starring Cherry Jones, directed by Andrei Serban. Brustein is also a highly regarded theatre critic for "The New Republic," with many volumes of criticism and theory to his name. Over the years, he has cheerfully fashioned himself the scourge of the forces of commercial theatre.
—By Robert Simonson