LENOX, MASS.: Roughly a month after Shakespeare & Company‘s new executive director and president, Rick Dildine, arrived at his job at the helm of the venerable Berkshires company from a similar job at the helm of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, he announced the departure of artistic director Tony Simotes, effective on Nov. 10, several months before the end of Simotes’ contract.
Dildine said in a statement that there were no immediate plans to replace Simotes—which sounds unusual, unless you recall that while in St. Louis, Dildine also ran the Shakespeare Fest as executive director, in which role he handled the programming and leadership duties typically carried out by an artistic director. (Bruce Longworth is the festival’s interim artistic director while it seeks a replacement for Dildine.)
Simotes replaced the company’s founder, Tina Packer, who ran the company for 30 years before retiring in 2009. Simotes, who overcame throat cancer in the years immediately following that succession, was credited with righting the finances of the company, which was $10 million in debt. A performer and director, Simotes has a specialty in fight and violence choreography, a subject he expounded on recently with interviewer Paul Edmondson.
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