Williamstown Theatre Festival Announces New Members To Leadership Team & New Artistic Leadership Model

Jenny Gersten, who returned to Williamstown Theatre Festival in November 2021, will conclude her term as Interim Artistic Director at the end of the 2024 Summer Season.

By: Feb. 08, 2024
Williamstown Theatre Festival Announces New Members To Leadership Team & New Artistic Leadership Model

Williamstown Theatre Festival announces additional members to the leadership team and the move toward a rotating collective artistic leadership model that will ensure boundary-breaking and diverse programming, create new opportunities for emerging artists, and foster shared ownership of the artistic vision for the Festival.

A national search has commenced for a newly created Managing Director, Operations & Advancement position facilitated by the Tom O'Connor Consulting Group and a search committee that includes WTF artists, staff, and members of the Board of Trustees.

Raphael Picciarelli has joined WTF as Managing Director, Strategy & Transformation.  In this newly created leadership position, Picciarelli will partner with fellow leaders as the Festival enters its next phase of artistic excellence with a focus on evolving the organization into a more sustainable entity.

Eric Gershman, who joined WTF as a management consultant in February 2023, will continue to serve as Interim Managing Director, Operations & Advancement. A national search has commenced for a full-time Managing Director, Operations & Advancement to lead all administrative efforts for the organization including support of the Board, fundraising, marketing, and Festival operations.

Jenny Gersten, who returned to Williamstown Theatre Festival in November 2021, will conclude her term as Interim Artistic Director at the end of the 2024 Summer Season. As previously announced, in celebration of her 15 combined years of service, Gersten will be honored on Monday, February 12 at WTF's 2024 Gala in New York City at City Winery (25 Eleventh Avenue at Hudson River).

Margaret Gould Stewart, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “WTF is proud of its 70-year legacy of artistic excellence and innovation and is building upon it to develop a leadership model that serves the evolving needs of the Festival. This reinvention is critical to ensuring that WTF can continue to deliver on its mission now and for generations to come.

“We are deeply grateful to Jenny for her tireless commitment to the Festival and the enormous contributions she has made in getting us to where we are today. As we look toward the future of WTF, I am excited to welcome Raph, who has an extensive history of working with organizations at inflection points to reimagine how they engage with the world. I'm thrilled that Eric will continue to serve as Interim Managing Director, Operations & Advancement until his successor is found. Eric's a multifaceted leader with experience across the spectrum of live entertainment. His steadfast guidance will be invaluable in the coming months.

“As we embark on our next 70 years, we will be introducing a new collective artistic leadership model starting with the 2025 Season. We look forward to sharing more about our future vision in the coming months as we embark on an exciting next chapter for this cherished institution.”

Jenny Gersten said, “It has been an honor to be at Williamstown Theatre Festival and work with the staff and Board through these past few seasons. Our goal has been to imagine what the future of summer theater looks like. And I think with Margaret, Raphael, and Eric, we have a dynamic team to take this extraordinary premise to its rich fulfillment. Williamstown is home to me, and even after I leave the staff, I cannot wait to see how the place continues to make its mark on theater artists and the cultural landscape.”

Raphael Picciarelli said, “WTF is at an exciting crossroads as it embarks on reinvention. In our world's realities of significant isolation, division, and disconnection, theater as an art form and WTF as an institution feel more crucial than ever. I'm thrilled to join this organization and its team to help build a sustainable future on the shoulders of its powerful legacy. Together with our community, we will move forward toward a new way of theater and artistic creation in the Berkshires.”

ABOUT WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL

For seven decades, the Tony Award-recognized Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought emerging and professional theater artists together in the Berkshires to create a thrilling summer festival of diverse, world premiere plays and musicals, bold new revivals, and a rich array of accompanying cultural events.

Artists are drawn to Williamstown Theatre Festival to make great theater in an environment conducive to artistic risk-taking. Matthew Broderick, Audra McDonald, Dominique Morisseau, Mary-Louise Parker, Susan Stroman, Uma Thurman, and Blair Underwood are just a few of the luminous theater artists who have worked at the Festival. Many others, including Sterling K. Brown, Ty Burrell, Charlie Day, Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Brie Larson, Chris Pine, and George C. Wolfe, began their careers at the Festival.

Productions and artists shaped at the Festival fill theaters in New York City and around the world. Recently, Williamstown Theatre Festival was represented on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally by The Sound Inside, Grand Horizons, The Rose Tattoo, The Visit, Fool for Love, The Elephant Man, Seared, Selling Kabul, Unknown Soldier, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning Cost of Living, and Lempicka, which will make its Broadway debut in March.

Learn more about Williamstown Theatre Festival at www.wtfestival.org.

BIOGRAPHIES

Eric Gershman (Interim Managing Director, Operations & Advancement) is an experienced arts, culture, and media strategist and teacher with extensive experience working closely with senior executives, Boards of Trustees, and multi-disciplinary teams. His consulting work has been seen throughout the cultural sector including strategic and business planning exercises for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Brown Arts Institute, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Black Theatre, the Preservation Society of Newport County, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Rhode Island School of Design, and ProPublica.

Prior to his consulting work, Gershman was Manager of Strategy & Business Development for Disney Theatrical Group, advising the organization on its commercial live entertainment businesses worldwide. Eric also served as Senior Advisor at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where he provided internal consulting and facilitated special projects. Earlier in his career, Eric held a number of technical production and operations positions with Blue Man Group, the Broadway tour of Annie, and Cirque du Soleil, the latter of which included three new shows in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Gershman holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater production from Emerson College, an MBA from the Yale School of Management, and an MFA in theater management from the Yale School of Drama, the latter of which awarded him the George C. White Prize in Theater Management. He is adjunct faculty at Brown University, Columbia University Teachers College, and the University of Rhode Island, the author of multiple business case studies in arts management, and is a member of the ROI Community of Global Innovators. Learn more about Eric's work and experience at www.ericgershmanllc.com

Raphael Picciarelli (Managing Director, Strategy & Transformation) is a creator, producer, culture-curator, and community-gatherer who is energized by the possibility of personal transformation through art and community.

Raphael's career began in film and theater production where he was a trusted collaborator alongside a slew of prolific producers and creative teams from development to production. He then brought his storytelling expertise to consulting, where he guided leaders and companies in the space between business rigor and courageous creativity. He's worked with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Howard Schultz, and Sherrilyn Ifill to transform their respective organizations, and with companies such as Expedia, New York Botanical Garden, and Consensys, to shape the experience, identity, and culture of their brands.

He also has always maintained a creative practice, having served as the Artistic Director of a nonprofit theater company in New York City where he developed original work by some of the most exciting young talent working in the theater today, while creating multiple projects for both film and television himself with his creative partners.

Raphael holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.



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