Erin Daley Appointed Artistic Director of Primary Stages

Daley has been with Primary Stages since 2016, serving as Associate Artistic Director since 2018.

By: Jan. 30, 2024
Erin Daley Appointed Artistic Director of Primary Stages
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The Primary Stages Board has appointed Erin Daley as Artistic Director of Primary Stages, following a thorough process begun last year. Daley, who was named Interim Artistic Director in June 2023 following the passing of longtime Artistic Director Andrew Leynse, will begin in the role immediately. She has been with Primary Stages since 2016, serving as Associate Artistic Director since 2018.

“The Primary Stages Board of Directors could not be more excited about what the future of our company holds with Erin at our artistic helm,” said Marla Persky, President of the Board of Directors. “Her vision, sensibilities, and commitment to modern American Playwrights is only matched by her energy and enthusiasm. Personally, Erin’s artistic vision entices me as a theater lover and supporter. The future of the entire Off-Broadway industry rests in how we resonate with audiences. Erin’s capable and visionary hands place us in good stead.”

“Erin has guided this challenging transition with skill and mindfulness,” said BD Wong, Director of the 2023 Primary Stages production of Yes, I Can Say That!. “In the room, she is dramaturgically insightful, consistently tasteful, confidently ethical, and she cheers the art to the finish line through thick and thin. She is an Artistic Leader you welcome, and actually solicit notes from.” 

“I am thrilled with Erin Daley’s appointment to artistic director of Primary Stages. I’ve worked with Erin in innumerable capacities and have always found her to be a model of integrity, artistic rigor, thoughtfulness, creativity, grace under pressure, and good humor,” said Production Playwright, Virtual Commission Recipient, and Board Member Kate Hamill. “Erin has deep, long-reaching relationships with both new and emerging artists, and is always looking to advance the field and art. She is a true champion of the human beings who make theater, as well as a transformative leader of institutions. Erin represents a continuity of the culture of kindness, innovation, and collaboration that Casey started, and Andrew grew - the culture that makes Primary such a valuable place to work and visit. I could not be prouder to be part of her community and look forward to seeing her tremendous impact on the field at large.”

“Having worn many hats over the years with Primary Stages: actor, playwright, playwright-in-residence, Gala Honoree and current board member, I feel I can speak from a place of knowledge and assurance when I say that the organization could not be in better hands with Erin as Artistic Director,” said 2017-18 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Primary Stages, Production Playwright, and Board Member Sharon Washington. “I’m truly excited by her vision and enthusiasm. Erin leads with love and support for the work and the artists who create it. As a debut playwright creating a world-premiere work myself, I so appreciated her approachability - her door was literally open - and she encouraged me to come in and chat - not just about the piece and the production, but about my life and interests and ideas beyond the production. She truly believes in nurturing the whole artist.”


Erin Daley rises to the role of Artistic Director at Primary Stages after holding the position of Interim Artistic Director since early 2023, building upon her extensive experience and contributions to the company since 2016. Throughout her tenure, Erin has curated and produced a repertoire of 26 productions working alongside Artistic Director Andrew Leynse, while also spearheading the establishment of five groundbreaking Artistic Development Programs, helping develop dozens of new plays for the American Stage.

Production highlights at Primary Stages include Dig by Theresa Rebeck, On That Day in Amsterdam by Clarence Coo (2 Lortel Nominations, 3 Drama Desk Nominations, Off-Broadway Alliance Award Nomination -  Best New Play); peerless by Jiehae Park (Off-Broadway Alliance Award Nomination - Best New Play); The Confession of Lily Dare by Charles Busch (3 Drama Desk Nominations, Drama Desk winner for Outstanding Costume Design); Little Women by Kate Hamill; God Said This by Leah Nanako Winkler (Lortel Nomination); Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill (Lortel Nomination, Off-Broadway Alliance Award Nomination - Best Unique Theatrical Experience, Best of Theater 2017 - Huffington Post);Downstairs by Theresa Rebeck (Lortel Nomination); and Feeding the Dragon by Sharon Washington (Lortel, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle Nominations). 

Beyond her curatorial work, Daley has made significant strides in creating and supporting various Artistic Development programs that champion playwrights and respond to the needs of the industry. She founded Primary Plus, a developmental reading series aimed at fostering inclusivity among playwrights and introducing audiences to the new play process. The program has evolved to include audience engagement activities that bring together playwrights and the audiences that love them. Erin also inaugurated The Latinx Playwrights Circle as Primary Stages' first Company-in-Residence, providing crucial resources and guidance, and co-producing their Intensive Mentorship and Infinite Stories Reading Series. In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Erin introduced Creative Development Grants, an innovative initiative providing financial, institutional, and artistic support for writers embarking on ambitious projects. Additionally, she commissioned four playwrights to create virtual theatrical works specifically tailored for online platforms to ensure Primary Stages continued to support and share the art of playwriting despite the industry shutdown. Through the support of the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, Erin established the Echoes Writers Group in 2021, offering mentorship and community for women, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming artists as they develop their unique voices. In her time at Primary, Erin’s noteworthy commissions include Morning in America, a series of 75 monologues written in response to the 2016 election, A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now by Rehana Lew Mirza, and a co-adaptation of A Christmas Carol with Theresa Rebeck.

Daley also leads the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group and its Fresh Ink New Play Festival, which in the last 7 years has produced over 50 new plays, many which have gone on to further development opportunities or productions. Notable playwrights and plays include Chisa Hitchinson (Whitelisted, Proof of Love, Amerikin), Susan Soon He Stanton (We, The Invisibles), Madhuri Shekar (Dhaba on Devon Avenue), Leah Nanako Winkler (God Said This, Hot Asian Doctor Husband), Benjamin Benne (Manning), Eleanor Burgess (Wife of a Salesman), Charly Evon Simpson (Sandblasted),  Rehana Lew Mirza (Four Woke Baes), Mat Smart (Eden Prairie), Elizabeth Irwin (Support), Jordan Seavey, Hilary Bettis, and Liliana Padilla.

Daley came to Primary Stages after spending four years at The Flea in TriBeCa, where she managed a robust resident company of artists and worked on developing new plays, such as The Mysteries (featuring the work of over 50 playwrights), Wolf in the River by Adam Rapp, Smoke by Kim Davies, the place we built by Sarah Gancher, and many others. Prior to New York, she was an Allen Lee Hughes Fellow at Arena Stage, where she produced the Eugene O'Neill Festival, and cut her teeth in film/commercial production at La Banda Films in Los Angeles. She is a proud graduate of Skidmore College and a Massachusetts native.

Primary Stages’ 2023/24 season will continue with IBSEN’S GHOST: An Irresponsible Biographical Fantasy, presented in association with George Street Playhouse. Written by and starring Charles Busch, and directed by Carl Andress, Ibsen’s Ghost begins previews March 2, 2024, in Theater A at 59E59 Theaters. Opening night is set for March 14 for a limited run through April 14, 2024.



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