Rick Dildine, who has expanded the scope of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in the five years that he has been in charge of it, is leaving. He will become executive director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.
During his tenure here, audiences have increased for the spring performances in Forest Park. But he also took the festival out of the wooded glen. He created SHAKE38 (marathon performances of Shakespeare’s works) and Shakespeare in the Streets. In explaining the latter, the festival’s website says that a team from the festival works with “a neighborhood in developing an original play based on Shakespeare’s works – a play whose themes best reflect the community’s social and economic ‘character’.”
In a press release, Dildine said he leaves “St. Louis with mixed emotions because it is such a great place to call home and make art." He pointed to his work “to elevate awareness of Shakespeare’s works, and enhance the festival’s commitment to offer St. Louisans free accessible Shakespeare in the schools, in the streets and in the park.”
Sarah Hancock, Shakespeare & Company board chair, said, “We see Rick as a high energy-level leader who generates a sense of excitement about our organization’s current achievements, as well as our untapped potential for future growth and development — and someone who can communicate his vision to all stakeholders with an infectious, but realistic, optimism.”
The current production of the Shakespeare Festival's Henry IV and Henry V runs through June 15. A spokesperson for the festival said Dildine will be in St. Louis through Aug. 31. The board, she said, would be meeting soon to discuss interim leadership before it begins a national search.