ST. LOUIS and LENOX, MASS.: Rick Dildine must barely have had time to unpack. Just last fall he left his post as executive director and president of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis (SFSTL) to take the helm of the Berkshires’ Shakespeare & Company. Now he’s heading back to his St. Louis gig.
“We are delighted to welcome Rick Dildine back to helm Shakespeare Festival St. Louis,” said Chuck Miller, board chair of the organization, in a statement. “The festival has received national attention for our stellar growth, our expanded reach in the community, our robust year-round programming and the quality of our performances. This is an exciting time for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, and Rick Dildine is the right person to continue our success.”
In Dildine’s absence, Bruce Longworth served as the festival’s interim artistic director. That title hints at one thing that’s changed with Dildine’s return: His new title at SFSTL will be artistic and executive director. Previously it was simply executive director, though in that capacity he carried out the duties traditionally associated with an artistic director, including developing new programming, such as SHAKE 38—marathon performances of Shakespeare’s works—and Shakespeare in the Streets.
Last year, when he took over at Shakespeare & Company, Dildine also became its executive director and president, and apparently had planned to absorb the company’s artistic duties when he announced the departure of its artistic director, Tony Simotes, just a month after arriving in Massachusetts.
But now Dildine is heading back to the Missouri company he had previously helmed for five years. Shakespeare & Co. has not announced a replacement, and neither that company nor Dildine could be reached by presstime for a comment about the quick artistic turnover.
In a statement released by SFSTL, Dildine was quoted as saying, “What I love about the festival and what I know to be a part of my DNA is the excitement of the artistic role I play. During my time at Shakespeare & Company, we were able to accomplish some monumental tasks towards its operational success; however, my skills and passions are directly related to producing theatre. I am so excited to be returning to my artistic roots.”
Coincidentally, SFSTL and Shakespeare & Company will begin their respective seasons on the same day, May 22.