Center Stage director accepts Yale drama jobs

January 11, 1991|By J. Wynn Rousuck Randi Henderson of The Sun's features staff contributed to this article.

Stan Wojewodski Jr., who as artistic director of Center Stage helped bring the theater to national prominence, will become dean of the Yale School of Drama, one of the most prestigious graduate theater programs in the country, it was announced yesterday.

He also will be artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre, succeeding Lloyd Richards, a Tony Award-winning director who is stepping down to pursue other interests after holding the dual position for 12 years.

Mr. Wojewodski (pronounced Voya-vudski), who became Center Stage's artistic director 13 years ago, will begin his five-year term at the New Haven, Conn., university July 1. He will oversee a student body of 200, administering the combined $6.1 million budget of the drama school and Repertory Theatre.

"He is known all over the country, and indeed beyond, as a superb creative director with a very generous artistic spirit committed to the development of young talent," Yale President Benno C. Schmidt Jr. said yesterday. "He took a good regional theater and made it one of the very best in the country."

A successor to Mr. Wojewodski has not been named, but a search committee has been assembled under the direction of Center Stage trustee W. David MacCallan, who was unavailable for comment yesterday. Katharine B. Gust, president of the board and an ex-officio member of the committee, said the first meeting will held at the end of the month. She was unable to name any candidates or a deadline for selection.

Expressing her regret over the resignation, Ms. Gust praised Mr. Wojewodski's "insistence on artistic quality and integrity. He pulled us all up to that quite high standard."

Mr. Wojewodski, 42, helped nurture Center Stage through most of its development and expansion on Calvert Street, including the current construction of a second performing space, due to be completed next month, as well as the acquisition and renovation of artists' housing. The theater has a current operating budget of $4.3 million and has raised more than $12.4 million toward an ongoing $13 million campaign.

Although Mr. Wojewodski has taught directing at Columbia University and serves as an on-site evaluator for theater training programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, he has devoted the bulk of his career to directing. In addition to Center Stage, he has staged plays at such renowned theaters as the Guthrie in Minneapolis, the Old Globe in San Diego and the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.

Despite this emphasis on directing, he explained in an interview yesterday that teaching "is something I always thought I would move toward." Mr. Wojewodski, a native of Scranton, Pa., who holds a master of fine arts degree from the Catholic University of America, added, "I am somebody who thought about the kind of training that is important even as I was directing, and I always thought I would combine that."

Before completing his tenure at Center Stage, he will direct two more productions there, both in the new Head Theater -- the world premiere of Eric Overmyer's "The Heliotrope Bouquet by Scott Joplin & Louis Chauvin," and Charles Ludlam's "The Mystery of Irma Vep." He said one of his regrets is that he will not have the opportunity to create a body of work in the new theater.

At Yale, Mr. Richards described the duties Mr. Wojewodski is about to assume as "running a theater and running a school, assembling a staff, developing an approach to curriculum and, in the middle of that, if you have time to teach, you teach." He called the selection of Mr. Wojewodski an "excellent decision."

In Baltimore, a surprised Philip Arnoult, artistic director of the Theatre Project, said Mr. Wojewodski's move will be "Baltimore's loss and Yale's gain." But, he added, thanks to the strong leadership of Peter Culman as managing director at Center Stage, "Baltimore is one of the few cities in the country where this will not send tremors through the artistic community." Mr. Culman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Center Stage "is in shape to take this in stride," agreed T. Edward Hambleton, one of the founding fathers of off-Broadway and a longtime Center Stage board member. "I certainly feel that the momentum that's built up . . . is going to be a very interesting and attractive package for some new artistic director."

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