American Repertory Theater of Western New York names new artistic director
American Repertory Theater of WNY has appointed Buffalo actor, director, and West Seneca Youth Theatre artistic director Candice Kogut as its new artistic director. She takes the artistic reins from ARTWNY founder Matthew LaChiusa, who continues as executive director. The company is entering its eleventh season.
Kogut has been overseeing West Seneca Youth Theatre group for more than a decade, and brings that solid foundation to her new position. In fact, the first show of the season will be a collaboration between WSYT and ART/WNY. “We will be producing the musical Heathers for Curtain Up!, featuring all high school students,” she previews. “Throughout the rehearsal process, we are also doing educational workshops, where artists will come in to work with the students, and also workshops on bullying and peer pressure—issues in the musical—and producing a one-night student-to-student antibullying demonstration. The joint collaboration really comes out of Matthew’s and my belief that theater is a proponent for education and for change.”
Kogut’s appointment is also a step toward gender parity in theater, where figures for everything from artistic directors to playwrights produced continue to hover at national averages of about twenty percent women. Kogut’s appointment pushes Buffalo into that range for the first time, as she joins fellow female artistic directors Kelli Bocock-Natale (Kogut’s mentor), New Phoenix; Victoria Perez, Raices; Mary Kate O’Connell, O’Connell and Company; and Paulette Harris (Paul Robeson). (It should be noted that Buffalo has several female managing directors.)
Although her tenure officially begins on July 1, Kogut is transitioning with LaChiusa, planning special events, and acting in this month’s Jesus Christ Superstar and season ender The Rain Dogs Project.