Rattlestick Theater Names Will Davis As Artistic Director

Davis will succeed Daniella Topol, who served as Artistic Director since 2016.

By: Feb. 28, 2023

Rattlestick Theater Names Will Davis As Artistic Director

After an inclusive nationwide search led by ALJP Consulting and a dedicated group of board, staff, and affiliated artists, Off-Broadway's Rattlestick Theater has named Will Davis, a director, choreographer, and producer of new work as Artistic Director. Davis will succeed Daniella Topol, who served as Artistic Director since 2016.

Speaking about his announcement, Davis said, "I'm delighted to lead Rattlestick and look forward to working with the board and staff to launch the exciting next chapter for this remarkable theater. I'm grateful to Daniella Topol for her years of excellent leadership and for the opportunity to carry her work forward."

Board Chair and Chair of the search committee, Jeff Thamkittikasem, said of Davis' placement: "Will is just an amazing artist with a beautiful eye, and we're so excited for that aesthetic to be used for developing the culture of Rattlestick."

Will Davis currently is an Associate Professor of Directing in the John Wells Directing Program at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and Breaking the Binary Festival's advisory council. Prior to joining Rattlestick Theater, he also served as Artistic Director of the American Theatre Company in Chicago from 2016-2018, making history as the first transgender person to lead a major nonprofit institution without a defined LGBTQ mission.

Jocelyn Prince, owner and Principal of ALJP, said of the search, "Will is a transformative leader in the American theater. We are thrilled to have facilitated this historic appointment." The search committee included Jeff Thamkittkasem, Ray Brunt, Faith Caitlin, Yue Liu, Jolene Noelle, Dael Orlandersmith and Cori Thomas, and was supported by ALJP consultants. Jocelyn Prince led the search process, supported by Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, and Erica Lauren Ortiz. Over 100 candidates nationwide applied for the role, and the inclusive process incorporated feedback from numerous affiliated Rattlestick groups and public presentations from the final candidates to the Rattlestick community in January.

Davis will assume the role full-time on May 1, 2023, after working over the next few months alongside Daniella Topol. The appointment comes at an exciting time for the theater company, with a $4-million renovation project scheduled to begin this year.

Will Davis is excited to get to work at the theater, sharing, "Rattlestick has long been known for inventive and ambitious new work and it will continue to be a theater focused on the future of the form. Rattlestick is also a community-centered civic space, and I look forward to deepening our invitation to artists and community members who are looking for a place to call home. It's thrilling to return to the downtown theater landscape where I began my career and I cannot wait to get started."

Will Davis (he/him/his) is a transgender director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work for the stage. Davis is the first transgender person to lead a major nonprofit institution without a defined LGBTQ mission. Off-Broadway credits include: Road Show (Encores! Off-Center); India Pale Ale (MTC); Bobbie Clearly (Roundabout Underground); Charm (MCC); CALIFORNIA (Clubbed Thumb); Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb and Playwrights Horizons-Lucille Lortel nomination); and Duat (Soho Rep). Regional credits include: As You Like It (La Jolla Playhouse) The Swindlers (Baltimore Center Stage); Everybody (Shakespeare Theater Company); A Doll's House, Part 2 (Long Wharf Theatre); Colossal (Olney Theatre Center and Mixed Blood Theater-Helen Hayes award for best direction); and multiple productions for ATC in Chicago where Davis also served as artistic director. Davis is a member of the TCG board of directors, and the Breaking the Binary Festival's advisory council. He is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the NYTW 2050 Directing Fellowship, the Brooklyn Art Exchange's Artist in Residence program, and the Princeton Arts Fellowship. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Directing in the John Wells Directing Program at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

Rattlestick Theater - Founded in 1994 by David Van Asselt and Gary Bonasorte, Rattlestick Theater has been steadfast in producing diverse, challenging, and provocative plays while fostering the future voices of the American theater. Now in its 29th year, the company is focused on energetic theater that responds to the complexities of our culture in conversation with community partners. From its historic West Village theater, Rattlestick has produced the first plays and early works of some of today's leading voices, including Martyna Majok (Ironbound), Diana Oh (mylingerieplay), and Heidi Schreck (There Are No More Big Secrets), and recently won an Obie for Arturo Luis Soria's Ni Mi Madre. They are proud to make Rattlestick a place where some of our nation's most celebrated playwrights feel safe to test their boldest ideas, including Dael Orlandersmith (Until the Flood), José Rivera (Massacre, Sing to Your Children), and Sam Hunter (Lewiston/Clarkston, nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play). Rattlestick provides fellowships to writers through the Van Lier Playwrights Program, the Terrence McNally Incubator Program, the Mellon Foundation's Playwright-in-Residence Program, and has commissioned new work from numerous writers including Cusi Cram, Mahira Kakkar, Basil Kreimendahl, Dael Orlandersmith, Stacey Rose, Arturo Luis Soria, Cori Thomas, Liba Vaynberg, and Rhiana Yazzie. Rattlestick is also dedicated to supporting immigrant artists through the Global Gab and Global Forms Programs. https://www.rattlestick.org/

ALJP Consulting is a Black-owned, woman-owned, mission driven firm specializing in executive search, strategic planning, board coaching and development, and facilitation. ALJP was founded in the Summer of 2019 to fill a need in the arts and culture field for consulting firms dedicated to creating an industry ecosystem that looks like the world in which we live. While reimagining the Arts and Culture Sector, we put inclusion and equity at the heart of our consulting practice. ALJP specializes in executive search, strategic planning, board coaching and development, and equity, diversity and inclusion strategy for the arts and beyond. Our current and recent clients include MCC, The Field, Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC), New York Theatre Workshop, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Marin Theatre Company, The Broad Stage, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Pivot Arts, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Trinity Repertory Company. aljpconsulting.com



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