Tony Simotes, Professor and Director of University Theater at the University of Wisconsin, has been named to replace Tina Packer as Artistic Director of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA, which he co-founded with Packer and others in 1978. Simotes’ job will begin June 1; in giving up administrative responsibilities, Packer will concentrate on the long-term vision of the Company.
Packer will devote her focus to the Company’s ongoing growth into an international center of learning and intellectual renewal. This mission includes codification of the Company’s distinctive training and performance techniques through writings and multimedia projects, as well as the long-term goal of building a historically accurate reproduction of the Elizabethan-era Rose Theatre.
“I couldn’t be happier with the choice, or more excited about what we can do now that Tony is on board.” Packer says. “Tony is a founding member. He knows our aesthetic and training discipline, and that is extremely important to our vitality and mission. We have an outstanding artist management structure in place, and his energy, forward looking vision and experience will only add to that. I believe our best years are yet to come.”
Packer says she can now look squarely at the “big picture” as S&Co. looks to fulfill its mission in new and exciting ways. “I am not going away or turning my badge in. I am committed to seeing Shakespeare & Company evolve into an internationally recognized center of education, training, performance and intellectual renewal. But I simply cannot lead this effort while sitting in the Artistic Director’s chair. I am eager to turn those duties over to Tony, knowing that his distinctive talents will inject great spirit into the Company and bring about some of our finest work.”
Originally from Joliet, Illinois, Simotes co-founded the Company with Packer and other dedicated artists in 1978. A graduate of the University of Illinois, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts from New York University, and is currently a tenured Professor and Director of University Theater at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. He has been a guest lecturer at a host of Universities across the country, including Yale, NYU and the University of California. Simotes has played major roles in both film and television, and brings a long list of stage directing credits to Shakespeare & Company. Over the last decade he has also directed a number of successful shows at the Company, including the critically acclaimed productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2006 and Othello in 2008. Simotes is also a nationally recognized and professionally accredited fight director and choreographer. His wife Lucy, a realtor, is originally from Fitchburg, Mass. They met at Shakespeare & Company’s 25th Anniversary Gala in Founders’ Theatre in 2002.
Shakespeare and Company is expanding its programming and in the midst of a $10 million Capital Campaign. The new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre had a “soft” opening this summer as part of a comprehensive Production and Performing Arts Center. The new facilities have already allowed S&Co. to expand its world-renowned education and training programming, as well as launch its first-ever winter season with Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates, playing at the Bernstein Theatre until March 8.
“I will be bringing my own perspective and artistic sense into the role of Artistic Director and am confident I can now give back to the Company some of what it has given me.” Simotes says. “I look forward to carrying the Company’s mission onward, and will very actively pursue artistic opportunities to help fulfill our potential. There will be challenges. But every great company has them. In fact, the better and more successful the company, the more the challenges. I know from my experience with Shakespeare & Company that we will meet these challenges with innovative answers, and create our own future with inventive and effective personal and artistic achievements. That’s what we have always done and will continue to do.”
Shakespeare and Company
70 Kemble St.
Lenox, MA 01240