Artistic Director Les Waters to Depart Actors Theatre of Louisville

by Michael Eddy
Les Waters
Les Waters

Les Waters and the Board of Directors announced that Waters will step down as Artistic Director after six seasons at the helm of the Tony Award-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville. Waters will depart in the summer of 2018, following the close of the 2017-2018 season, to pursue personal projects.

“It has been a privilege to lead, along with Jennifer Bielstein and lately Kevin E. Moore, one of America’s great artistic institutions,” comments Waters. “I am deeply grateful to the Board, staff, artists, volunteers and audiences for all their support. Together we have had considerable success and we’ve made many great shows during my tenure. Actors Theatre is the cornerstone of new American theatre, and I look forward to returning as both a guest artist and visitor to experience its continuing artistic excellence and growth. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of Actors Theatre.”

“The Board of Directors at Actors Theatre has been honored to work with such an innovative leader as Les Waters for the past six seasons, and on behalf of all of us, I wish him the best as he pursues new artistic adventures,” says Board President Elizabeth Rounsavall. “Thanks to his efforts, we are leaders in our field and are grateful to him for his influence locally, nationally and internationally. As was the case with our search for Les, we are committed to finding a leader who will continue to position Actors Theatre as a great home to art in the 21st century, keep us at the forefront of new play development through the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, and contribute to a culturally vibrant Greater Louisville community.”

“Les Waters’ artistic impact, both locally and nationally, is immeasurable,” says Kevin E. Moore, Managing Director. “He has introduced an exciting and diverse array of new plays into the American repertoire. Les’s dedication to developing artists has changed the way Actors Theatre produces, deepening collaborative efforts throughout the organization. We will truly miss him and we are grateful for all he has done for Louisville and Actors Theatre.”

Waters’ artistic leadership invigorated the long-running Humana Festival of New American Plays. His decision to double Actors Theatre’s commissioning program resulted in Humana Festival-debuted plays being seen across the country, such as Lucas Hnath’s The Christians. Through Waters’ collaboration with playwrights of national significance, Actors Theatre has been the stage for remarkable productions including new works by Hnath, Sarah Ruhl, Naomi Iizuka, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Will Eno and Charles Mee, and others. During his tenure, he has worked to diversify both programming and artists represented on stage. In addition to his work in Louisville, Waters maintains a strong national presence, shepherding works from Actors Theatre’s Brown-Forman Mainstage Series and Humana Festival to audiences across the country, such as Playwrights Horizons, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Rep and the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

During Waters’ time with the company, he has directed such plays as Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday, Charles Mee’s The Glory of the World, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’s Recent Alien Abductions, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale, Naomi Iizuka’s At the Vanishing Point, Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, Will Eno’s Gnit, Todd Almond’s Girlfriend, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day's Journey into Night.

Programming for Actors Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season will be selected under Waters’ direction, with the lineup to be announced in February 2018.

The search for a new Artistic Director will commence under the guidance of a firm to be announced shortly.

Further information from Actors Theatre of Louisville: