The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Bonnie J. Monte Celebrates 30th Anniversary As Artistic Director
This year, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte will celebrate her 30th anniversary at the helm of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) now approaching its 58th season with an electrifying lineup of plays. Under Ms. Monte's leadership, the Theatre has evolved into one of the most respected classical theatres in the nation. Recently hailed by The Wall Street Journal in Terry Teachout's short list of top female directors in America, Ms. Monte has also garnered national recognition for her highly successful revitalization of the institution, and for her outstanding commitment to arts education and professional training. The Theatre will honor Ms. Monte's 30th anniversary with numerous events over the course of the 2020 season, beginning with their annual gala celebration on April 18th of this year.
During Ms. Monte's three decades at the helm, the institution successfully completed a major capital campaign resulting in the complete renovation and expansion of the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in 1998. She is currently working on Act II: The Legacy Project, the Theatre's new campaign to ensure a permanent workspace and education center for the company. In 2002, the Theatre's 40th anniversary year, she initiated a new partnership with the College of Saint Elizabeth, attaining a second summer performance venue for the organization: the Outdoor Stage, a unique and stunning Greek amphitheatre on St. Elizabeth's campus. That same year, The Star-Ledger named the company "Regional Theatre of the Year," and The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation awarded The Shakespeare Theatre a prestigious Strategic Partnership Grant in the amount of $1 million. In its January 2003 issue, New Jersey Monthly named Ms. Monte one of "40 New Jerseyans We Love." She has received numerous awards and honors over the years and was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Arts in New Jersey by The Star-Ledger.
Prior to arriving in New Jersey, Ms. Monte was a casting director at the prestigious Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City. From 1981 to 1989, she was Associate Artistic Director at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, working closely with the late Nikos Psacharopoulos and many of the nation's notable theatre artists including Tennessee Williams. With Psacharopoulos and Williams, she was part of a team that collaborated on Tennessee Williams: A Celebration, a major retrospective 8-hour production encompassing Williams' entire literary canon. During her tenure at Williamstown Ms. Monte also cast and helped produce joint ventures with other major theatres, including Sweet Bird of Youth at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway at Circle-in-the-Square, The Glass Menagerie at The Long Wharf Theatre, and Arms and the Man at The Pasadena Playhouse.
Since 1990, she has directed over 75 productions for The Shakespeare Theatre, including stagings of numerous Shakespeare plays, as well as work from the Russian classic canon with a focus on Chekhov and Ostrovsky. Her special affinity for Tennessee Williams has resulted in highly acclaimed productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Camino Real and Sweet Bird of Youth.
From 2013 - 2016, Ms. Monte collaborated with Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on their Winter Shakespeare Series presenting three events that melded the theatrical and symphonic art forms in a unique and exciting way. She also directed shows for the Theatre's Shakespeare LIVE! touring company including The Myths of Ancient Greece: Old Echoes, New Ears, which she also authored. She has created a number of original translations/adaptations for the company's Main and Outdoor stages, including Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Marivaux's The Triumph of Love, Pirandello's Enrico IV, Ostrovsky's Artists and Admirers, Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird, Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, The Alchemist, and Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters (published by Playscripts, Inc). Her adaptation of Molnár's The Guardsman has just been published in London by Josef Weinberger Ltd.
Ms. Monte has been actively involved in the training of new talent for the American stage through numerous training programs for over 40 years, and has also engaged in residencies at various universities across the nation. Ms. Monte obtained a graduate conservatory degree in directing from The Hartman Conservatory and a B.A. in theatre from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. She has Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Drew University and the College of Saint Elizabeth.
Details about the Theatre's 2020 Gala honoring Ms. Monte's thirty year anniversary will be released in early February.