Bonnie J. Monte, artistic director at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey since 1990 — and the director of 90 plays there, during that time — will leave the theater at the end of the recently announced 2023 season.
Monte said in a press release: “Three decades ago, our Board took a chance on me, handing me both an incredible opportunity and an incredible challenge. My journey here has been my life’s dream come true, and while it has been a demanding voyage, each and every day has been loaded with experiences, people, and events that have enriched my life beyond reckoning. While I feel it’s time for me to hand the reins over to new leadership, I will remain very involved with the company as Artistic Director Emerita, and hopefully, continue to direct here and provide support in any way I can. At the end of my time as Artistic Director, I am looking forward to turning my focus solely to writing, directing, and teaching.”
STNJ board chair T. Randolph Harris said that Monte “has transformed what was a small, struggling company into a vibrant, major player in the classic theatre arena, moving the company into a new era of growth and fiscal and organizational health. From the very start, she redefined the institution’s mission, placing a strong and equal focus on arts education, diversity, and artist training. Over the course of her long tenure, she has made STNJ one of the nation’s best teaching theatres, and has expanded its reach and impact beyond all expectations.”
Under Monte’s leadership, Shakespeare has renovated and expanded its F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre at Drew University in Madison; created a support facility, the Thomas H. Kean Theatre Factory, in Florham Park; partnered with Saint Elizabeth University in Florham Park to present annual outdoor shows at the school’s Greek amphitheater; and increased the STNJ annual budget from $800,000 to $4 million.
She also established STNJ’s Shakespeare LIVE! touring company, which has brought Shakespeare’s plays to approximately 700,000 students over the last 27 years; and created innovative outdoor programming to help STNJ survive and remain productive during the pandemic.
STNJ’s board of trustees is working with Monte to identify and hire a successor.
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