Facing Tough Times, Michigan's BoarsHead Lays Off Artistic Director

News   Facing Tough Times, Michigan's BoarsHead Lays Off Artistic Director
Saddled with a debt in a state hit harder than others by the current economic crisis, the board of the BoarsHead Theater in Lansing, MI, has told its artistic director Kristine Thatcher that her contract would not be renewed.

Thatcher, a Lansing native, brought new plays and playwrights to the mid-Michigan Equity troupe, mixing lesser-known plays with classics. Next season will be a non-Thatcher lineup of commercial titles such as Wait Until Dark, I Love a Piano and The Nerd.

Thatcher's contract expires Aug. 31. She came to Lansing in 2005 to take on the artistic director role, making less than $60,000 a year. According to a story in the Lansing State Journal, she was informed that the theatre could no longer afford to keep two full-time executives. Executive director John Dale Smith will remain to run the troupe.

"I felt that we were getting a more diverse audience: a younger audience, a more culturally diverse audience. I was pleased to see that," Thatcher told the paper. "I've had my subscribers come up and thank me for re-energizing the theatre. That's always been extremely gratifying. I was hoping we were moving in the right direction."

In February, BoarsHead learned it would lose $50,000 in funding from The Pasant Foundation. Budget goals were not met for some shows in the 2008-09 season, necessitating a programming change for the coming season. Theatregoers should expect marquee-value titles rather than names unknown to local audiences.

The 2009-10 season will also include Beau Jest by James Sherman, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and the kids' show The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Visit www.boardhead.org.


Kristine Thatcher assumed the role of artistic director of BoarsHead Theatre Sept. 1, 2005, returning to the artistic home where her career began.

"I am thrilled to be returning to Lansing to take the reins of my favorite theatre," she said in a statement in 2005. "I grew up in this organization. BoarsHead gave me everything I needed to make a creative and productive life on the stage."

Thatcher has acted and directed in theatres across the country, but said, "BoarsHead is and always has been closest to my heart."

Thatcher began her career as an actress at BoarsHead when she was 16 years old. Her roles there included Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday, Jenny Diver in The Three Penny Opera, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and Jill Tanner in Butterflies Are Free. Since then, she has worked in New York and Chicago as an actress, director and writer. She has been a member of the 2001 Tony Award winning Victory Garden Playwrights Ensemble in Chicago since 1996.

She relocated to Lansing in fall 2005 and succeeded Geoffrey Sherman, who left BoarsHead to become producing artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, AL.

"Kristine Thatcher is a perfect fit for the BoarsHead," Paul Shaheen, chair of the BoarsHead board of trustees, said in 2005. "She is a top-notch professional, she knows Lansing and the BoarsHead well and she can hit the ground running. The BoarsHead has a lot of good momentum right now and Kristie will help us gain even more."

BoarsHead was founded in 1966.

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