SYRACUSE, N.Y.: Syracuse Stage has announced that as of Sept. 1, New York-based director Melissa Crespo will become the theatre’s associate artistic director. Kyle Bass, who currently holds that position, will transition to a new role as the theatre’s first resident playwright.
“This evolution of our artistic staff is a win-win for Syracuse Stage and for our audience,” said artistic director Robert Hupp in a statement. “Kyle’s voice has been central to our work for many years so it was important to honor his request to explore new models of association. I greatly value all that Kyle contributes to Syracuse Stage and, of course, we are thrilled to produce the premieres of his plays. We are delighted to create this new artistic space for Kyle and hopefully be his artistic home for years to come. Melissa brings an incredible breadth of experience to our organization and I am thrilled to partner with her to chart [the company’s] artistic future. I feel fortunate that she said yes to our invitation; her work will enrich all aspects of our theatre.”
Crespo has directed three times during recent seasons at Syracuse Stage. She directed the comedy Native Gardens in 2019, and this past season the two-character play I and You. She is scheduled to direct Yoga Play in the upcoming season. In 2019, Crespo directed a reading of a work-in-progress play by Larissa FastHorse as part of Stage’s Cold Read Festival.
“Syracuse Stage has always felt like an artistic home away from home,” said Crespo in a statement. “I am delighted to join Bob, Jill, and the whole staff to continue supporting the artistic growth and development of the vibrant Syracuse community.”
Crespo brings a wealth of experience to Syracuse Stage as a director of plays, musicals, and operas. She is also a playwright—her play Egress, co-written with Sarah Saltwick, will receive a world premiere at Texas’s Amphibian Stage this year—and, like her predecessor Bass, she is keen on promoting and developing new work. As Syracuse Stage’s associate artistic director, Crespo will partner with Hupp for the selection of the company’s season and the formation of all artistic and creative teams.
The new position of resident playwright is the latest of numerous administrative and artistic positions Bass has held since first joining Syracuse Stage in 1994. During Timothy Bond’s tenure Bass became the resident dramaturg, helping select plays for each season and working closely with Ping Chong on Tales from the Salt City and co-authoring Cry for Peace: Voices from the Congo.
Bass initiated and continues to curate the Cold Read Festival of New Plays, now in its fifth year. An accomplished playwright, he wrote Possessing Harriet, which had its world premiere at Syracuse Stage in 2018, and will have a second world premiere with salt/city/blues in the upcoming season. Bass also devised and composed Separated, based on the experiences of Syracuse University student veterans in and out of the military, and two original pieces, Carver at Tuskegee and Citizen James, or the Young Man without a Country, for the company’s Backstory educational program. His theatricalized version of the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Baldwin vs. Buckley: The Faith of Our Fathers, will be performed at the theatre in September.
Bass is the first resident playwright at Syracuse Stage. In this new position, he will continue to work on development and commissions, while assisting Hupp with artistic programming. Bass will also receive support and workshops in the development of his own work, officially making Syracuse Stage his artistic home.
“The title Resident Playwright officially names what Bob Hupp has always made so generously clear and possible: Syracuse Stage is my artistic home,” said Bass in a statement. “I am grateful for Bob’s belief in and support of my creative work during my time as associate artistic director. In this next chapter of my Syracuse Stage career, I look forward to working with Bob, Melissa and my entire Stage family of talented colleagues and collaborators as I continue to explore my playwriting craft and vision within the embrace and artistic life of our theatre.”
“We are proud to acknowledge Kyle as our first resident playwright and to welcome Melissa as the first female artistic leader of Syracuse Stage,” added Hupp. “I am excited to see how their work encourages us to make an even more engaging impact on the cultural life of Central New York.”
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