O’Neill Center names Sherman exec director

Replaces founder White; other appointments made

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — Howard Sherman has been tapped the new executive director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford.

The Connecticut native succeeds George C. White, the 35-year-old facility’s founder and only previous exec director.

Currently the managing director of Rochester, N.Y.’s GeVa Theater, Sherman will continue there until Labor Day, though he’ll spend weekends during the summer at the O’Neill. Sherman will join the O’Neill as exec director-designate in October, fully assuming his new post on Jan. 1.

Topper shuffle

Sherman’s appointment is the culmination of a series of appointments at the O’Neill. Newcomers now oversee a number of its individual elements; James Houghton is replacing longtime artistic director Lloyd Richards.

As exec director, Sherman will oversee all programs and operations of the theatrical incubator and educational facility, which is probably most widely known for its annual summer National Playwrights Conference, at which new plays are developed. Other programs include a National Music Theater Conference, which workshops new musicals; the National Theater Institute, an intensive undergrad training program; a Cabaret Symposium; and the National Critics Institute.

“I look forward to exploring new ways in which the O’Neill can reach out to both artists and audiences, and to building strong ties to the community,” Sherman said. He will certainly have fund-raising duties as well.

Sherman has had considerable theatrical experience throughout Connecticut. Prior to moving to Rochester, he spent four years as general manager of the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, before which he was public relations director for eight years of the Hartford Stage Co. He’s also worked with the Westport Country Playhouse as well as New York’s Manhattan Theater Club and the Philadelphia Festival Theater for New Plays.

Meanwhile, Houghton has announced the 16 new works to be developed during his first National Playwrights Conference (June 30-July 29). Thirteen will receive two public readings each in one of the O’Neill’s four performance spaces. Confab will include the participation of such guest artists as playwrights Edward Albee, Warren Leight, Romulus Linney and Paula Vogel; Joe Dowling, a.d. of the Guthrie Theater; O’Neill biographer Arthur Gelb; and Doug Hughes, a.d. of the Long Wharf Theater.

The plays receiving public presentations will be “Thief River,” by Lee Blessing; “Pavane,” Alexandra Cunningham; “Madinina,” Sarah C. Diamond; “Parts Unknown,” Ron Fitzgerald; “The Hand of God,” Daisy Foote; “A.M. Sunday,” Jerome Hairston; “Road Rage: A Love Story,” Wendy Hammond; “The Home Life of Polar Bears,” Hilly Hicks Jr., “Where It Came From,” Susan Kim, “Kimberly Akimbo,” David Lindsay-Abaire, “Skitaletz (The Wanderer),” Dmitry Lipkin; “The Square Root of Minus,” Peter Morris; and “No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs,” John Henry Redwood. The public readings will be held during the conference Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:30 and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Three additional special projects under development will not be given public readings: Christina Anderson’s “Breath of an American Spirit”; John Belluso’s “Body Songs,” with music by Elizabeth Swados; and Kia Corthron’s “Breath, Boom.”

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