David Stewart, a highly regarded production manager based in Texas, has been hired as production director at the Guthrie, the theater announced Monday. He replaces the outgoing Frank Butler and starts Nov. 2.
Stewart had been teaching and practiing at the Universtiy of Texas at Austin for three years, a post he thought of as his dream job.
"The Guthrie is like the Yankees of theater, and when the Yankees call, you gotta go," he said Monday, adding that he's not a Yankee fan. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve and support the exciting vision of Joe Haj."
Haj, who replaced Joe Dowling as head of one of the nation's largest non-profit playhouses in July, has been building his senior team to put in place a vision to make the Guthrie more permeable and responsive to the larger community. He hired actor, director and educator Jeff Meanza as associated artistic director in August. The two worked together at PlayMakers' Repertory Company, which Haj previously led.
Haj praised Stewart's technical and managerial skills in a release, then added that his new hire is "a national thought leader and public speaker on equity, diversity and inclusivity in the field of production. I’m thrilled to have him join us.”
Stewart, who was born in Denver and educated at Webster University, is one of the most high-profile African-American production managers in the field. He comes to town with many connections, including to Sarah Rasmussen, the new artistic director of the Jungle, with whom he previously worked. He also comes to Minnesota with the deep respect of his peers.
“What I love about David is his ability to manage people, to get them to share the best of their ideas and give their best,” said David Grindle, executive director of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the membership organization for backstage and design professionals. “He has a great sense of diplomacy and a genuine love for people and inclusion. He views theater as something done for and by people, and he welcomes everyone.”