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James Haskins.

James Haskins Named Geva’s New Executive Director

A former actor and longtime administrator at such theatres as the Wilma and the Guthrie, he’ll join artistic director Elizabeth Williamson in Rochester this month.

ROCHESTER, N.Y.: After a national search, Geva Theatre has announced that James Haskins will be its new executive director, effective mid-January. Haskins comes to Geva after most recently serving as managing director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, replacing Christopher Mannelli, who last year left Geva for a position at Huntington Theatre in Boston. Previously, Haskins completed a 12-year tenure as managing director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, in partnership with founding artistic director Blanka Zizka.

“I’m so delighted to have James bringing his impressive experience and expertise to Geva, and can’t wait to partner with him as we head into the company’s second fifty years!,” said Elizabeth Williamson, Geva’s artistic director, in a statement.

Diane McCue, Geva’s search committee chair, added in a statement, “His exceptional alignment with our vision and timing makes him the perfect fit to lead Geva into a future enriched with creativity, passion, and community impact. His seasoned expertise promises to be a guiding force as Geva continues its journey to inspire, entertain, and connect with our community.”

Haskins began his work in theatre administration at Circle Repertory Company and went on to work with a variety of theatres in New York and Seattle, most notably the Seattle Group Theatre. Upon moving to Philadelphia, he first worked as managing director of InterAct Theatre Company, while also serving on the board of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia as chair of the Barrymore Awards Oversight Committee. He subsequently moved into the executive director position of the Theatre Alliance before joining the Wilma. As a theatre artist, James acted in many productions before turning theatre administration and is most proud of his directorial and dramaturgical work on the plays of his husband, Michael Whistler.

Haskins holds an MFA from the University of Washington and a BA from The College of Wooster in Ohio, where he previously served on the alumni board. Following the pandemic shutdown, Haskins joined committees of the Minnesota Arts and Culture Coalition and the Professional Non-profit Theatre Coalition to help build support and funding for arts and culture. In Philadelphia, he served on the Cultural Advisory Committee under former Mayor Michael Nutter, who officiated his wedding ceremony.

Said Haskins in a statement, “I am honored to join artistic director Elizabeth Williamson, the board, and staff of Geva Theatre as its new executive director, and look forward to immersing myself into the Rochester community, where I seek to foster a culture that values the joy of live performance.”

Founded in 1972, Geva Theatre Center is a nonprofit professional theatre company dedicated to creating and producing professional theatre productions, programs, and services of a national standard. The 516-seat Elaine P. Wilson Stage is home to a wide variety of performances, from musicals to American and world classics. The 180-seat Ron & Donna Fielding Stage is home to Geva’s series of contemporary drama, comedy, musical theatre, and new play development programs. As of 2022, the theatre’s budget was $7.7 million.

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