(MADISON, NJ) -- The Board of Trustees of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) has announced that Brian B. Crowe will succeed Bonnie J. Monte as the company’s new Artistic Director starting on January 1st of 2024. Now in his 28th season with the institution, Mr. Crowe, who began his tenure back in 1996 as a directing intern from Ohio, was immediately identified by Ms. Monte as a young artist with tremendous promise, and she moved him up through the ranks steadily in his first years with the company.
He quickly distinguished himself as a talented stage director, mounting acclaimed productions, known especially for their inventiveness and visual effects. He became one of STNJ’s regular season directors, and has served as the company’s Director of Education for the past 25 years. Most notably, his collaboration with Ms. Monte on Shakespeare LIVE!, the organization’s flagship touring company, has resulted in LIVE! evolving into the largest and most prominent Shakespeare touring company for students in the mid-Atlantic region, having now reached over 700,000 young people during its existence.
Wood Huntley, STNJ’s Board President said, “We could not be luckier than to have a successor for Bonnie who has a long and prominent record of success with the company. Being able to transfer leadership with complete confidence in the new Artistic Director is a great gift, and the Board is thrilled that Bonnie can hand the reins over to someone we all know will carry on her great work at the highest level of competency and artistry.”
Ms. Monte remarked, “I am deeply grateful to our Board for appointing Brian as my successor. I strongly advocated for his appointment from the very start, as I knew our beloved theatre would be in excellent hands under Brian’s guidance and leadership. He has been by my side for many years now, participating in every aspect of our institution, and his knowledge of all things STNJ is formidable. He exemplifies the essence of our education mission as he came here as a young, emerging artist, and found a creative home that nurtured his talents and skills and gave him opportunities to fully blossom into a strong, professional artist. While Brian will bring many wonderful new things to the leadership table, and while his style is very different from mine, he shares my passion for our company’s mission and its importance, and his ability to function as both an artist and an administrator is rare and impressive. While turning over the helm of this ship is not easy, knowing that my protégé will be at the wheel has made the passing of the baton a joy.”
Mr. Crowe said, “I know first-hand the impact that The Shakespeare Theatre can have and has had on countless young people, artists, and patrons over the years. Bonnie leaves behind enormous shoes to fill, and I am honored and humbled to have been named her successor. I look forward to this exciting next chapter as we emerge from the pandemic: expanding the diverse communities we serve, celebrating the institution’s legacy of artistic excellence, exploring new partnerships, inviting audiences to see a broader view of the classics, and ensuring the company’s long-term solvency in this challenging time.”
During his tenure with the company, Mr. Crowe has directed 27 plays in Shakespeare’s canon (in over 60 productions) as well as numerous other plays, including his original works based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe (Nevermore: The Final Nightmares of Edgar Allan Poe) and Lewis Carroll (Wonderland…and What Was Found There). Over a third of his productions at The Shakespeare Theatre have landed on critics’ end-of-year top theatre picks, including The Metromaniacs (“Top Play of 2022”); William Shakespeare’s Long Lost Play (abridged) and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (“Top 12 Plays in NJ for 2019”); The Bungler (“NJArts Top 15 of 2017”); Coriolanus (“NJ.COM Top Ten” 2016). The Star Ledger called Mr. Crowe “one of the state’s most ingenious directors” (for Love’s Labour’s Lost) and has twice named him Best Director of a Drama (for Julius Caesar and for Wonderland). Mr. Crowe was one of three theatre artists named to The Star Ledger’s “20 for 2000” list made up of NJ artists to watch in the new century.
As a director, he has worked with The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio, where he was a resident company member; The Dayton Playhouse; Twelve Miles West Theatre Co.; Rutgers University: Mason Gross School for the Arts; and others. Though his work has primarily focused on Shakespeare, he has also worked on a variety of other classic and contemporary texts, from Moliere to Frayn.
An Ohio-transplant and a proud graduate of Wright State University, he is an alumnus of STNJ’s Summer Professional Training Program, which he now oversees each year, providing intense and challenging hands-on training for early career theatre artists from across the country and beyond. He has conducted Shakespeare workshops at universities across the country and was an adjunct instructor at Drew University. Mr. Crowe holds BFAs in Directing and Acting from Wright State University and was a Fellow at the 2000 International Salzburg Shakespeare Seminar. He also served on the Executive Committee of the global Shakespeare Theatre Association from 2019 to 2022.
Ms. Monte’s 34-year tenure as Artistic Director will continue through the end of 2023, and in January of 2024, she will become Artistic Director Emerita, remaining committed to and involved with the company. Mr. Crowe will assume the position of Artistic Director on January 1, 2024.
The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company whose Main Stage is located on the Drew University campus. One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, it is New Jersey’s largest professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world classics. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for a diverse and contemporary audience.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional major support is received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, The Hearst Foundations, The Edward T. Cone Foundation, CTW Foundation, The Samuel H. Scripps Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Bank of America, Shakespeare in American Communities: National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, E.J. Grassmann Trust, Hyde and Watson Foundation, New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation, Union Foundation, The Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation, Turrell Fund, The Jack K. Ayre & Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation, The John R. Eckel Jr. Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation, as well as contributions from numerous other foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individuals.