AN EIGHT-member committee of Center Stage board members has formed to search for an artistic director to replace Stan Wojewodski Jr., who will become the dean of the Yale School of Drama and artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre.
The 42-year-old Wojewodski announced his resignation yesterday.
"He has been extraordinary: As general artistic director, in his own directing and in the directors he has chosen," said board president Katharine B. Gust. "He has a really high opinion of the audience and a very high opinion and belief in what theater can and should be."
Under the combined leadership of Wojewodski and managing director Peter Culman, Center Stage has become one of the country's most respected resident regional theaters. It is completing a $13-million campaign which has helped to create a second performance space in the theater and to buy and renovate artist housing.
In announcing the appointment yesterday, Yale University president Benno C. Schmidt Jr. recognized Wojewodski as "a leader of the American theater with a passionate dedication to young artists and creativity in drama" as well as "a first-rate administrator." Wojewodski begins his job July 1, replacing Lloyd Richards, who has held the position since 1979.
The search committee led by trustee David MacCallan meets later this month to decide how to look for a replacement.
After receiving a master's degree in directing at Catholic University, Wojewodski became assistant to the artistic director of Center Stage and director of its Young People's Theater Company in 1975. He has served as its artistic director since 1977.
"When I look back, what surprises me most are the things I'm most proud of: I'm proud that I have made a home here for very individual voices of playwrights and actors and designers. I'm proud that I was able to form an intelligent and passionate response to naysayers who said 'Baltimore won't be able to receive this kind of play.' Good audiences are to be forged everywhere in response to high quality work," Wojewodski said.
"We've made Center Stage into a place where artists want to work and artists feel at home and that's the highest compliment that can be paid to a institution -- along with whatever work we can create."
He says his vision of programming has changed during the years he has worked in Baltimore.
"In the beginning, I still used words like "balanced season" . . . A real season has not to do with any formulaic process, but should be the harvesting of those particular ongoing projects which are now ready for full production . . . I've come to understand that the kind of theater I'm most interested in is poetically charged and has a strong social dimension. That is when the theater is at its best -- and that's when you have the chance of creating the most responsive audience."
He mentions his pride in programming such Center Stage productions as Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (1989), David Feldshuh's "Miss Evers' Boys" (1989) and Eric Overmyer's "On the Verge or The Geography of Yearning" (1985), which became the most produced new American play the year after it debuted at Center Stage.
Wojewodski's final production as artistic director will be Charles Ludlum's "The Mystery of Irma Vep." The 1991-92 season of productions, to be announced this spring, will serve as his immediate legacy.