Roger Danforth Retirement

February 9, 2016 / After 21 years with The Drama League


We are sad to announce the resignation of our longtime artistic director and friend, Roger T. Danforth

Roger, who is retiring to pursue other artistic opportunities, is currently in his twenty-first season as the director of our award-winning fellowship and residency programs, collectively known as The Drama League Directors Project. Mr. Danforth will conclude his active service during the summer of 2016, when he will become a member of The Drama League’s National Advisory Council.

“It’s been a joy and honor to lead the Drama League’s artistic programming for these past twenty-one years,” Danforth said. “It has been my pleasure to work with many of the finest theatre artists and companies in this country, and I will always be grateful. I have been so fortunate to be supported over the last three decades by a great board of directors and loyal donors. The Drama League has been a wonderful place to call home, and I especially thank my fellow staff members for making it so. I could not have achieved so much without their friendship and trust.  They’ve made it a pleasure to come to work every day.  As this organization I love begins its second century of service, the future seems very bright, and I look forward to being a fan and supporter for many years to come.”

During his tenure here at The Drama League, Danforth has overseen significant expansion in our artistic programming. Since he joined the staff in 1995, The Drama League has tripled its budget and grown its fellowship programs from two to five, including the Fall Directing Fellowship, the Hangar Directing Fellowship, the Classical Fellowship, the Leo Shull New Musicals Fellowship, and the recently-announced Fellowship in Film and Television (currently in development).  In 2010, he traveled to Bulgaria with Executive Director Gabriel Shanks to launch The Drama League’s first international arts exchange programs, and in 2014 did the same in Romania.  In 2013, with Mr. Shanks, he initiated The Drama League Artist Residency Program to develop new plays and musicals.  In the ensuing three years, the Drama League has developed over fifty projects for the stage, which to date have won two OBIE Awards and have had premieres across the country and in Europe.  The Drama League now serves over 3,000 artists each year.

Danforth’s stewardship at The Drama League has also included The Open Initiative, an organization-wide effort to increase and ensure diversity, inclusion, equity and opportunity throughout the field of professional directing.  For many years, he has produced the Musical Celebration of Broadway benefit gala and The Drama League Awards ceremonies, in addition to the emerging artists’ festival DirectorFest.   In 2006 he received the Theatre Museum’s Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education. Prior to coming to the Drama League, Mr. Danforth spent six years as the director of new play development at The Cleveland Play House, and served as the acting artistic director for the 1994-95 season.  During his tenure at The Drama League, he also served as an associate producer at Manhattan Ensemble Theater and Urban Stages. In addition to The Play House, his directing work has been seen at Two River Theater, Capital Rep, York Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and many others.

“In a century of efforts to support the American theatre, no person in The Drama League’s history has had more of an effect on the field than Roger,” said Mr. Shanks.  “His legacy is felt everywhere – in the hundreds of directors he has mentored to worldwide success, in the shape and vibrancy of the works he has developed and produced, and in the example he has set as an artist and leader.  He has been my closest collaborator and confidante, and the space he leaves behind will be enormous.  I can’t begin to thank him for everything he’s accomplished.”

The Drama League Board of Directors expressed its gratitude to Danforth for his distinguished tenure.  “For over two decades, The Drama League has been incredibly fortunate to have Roger as a part of our team,” said Board President Jano Herbosch. “We will sorely miss his wisdom and imagination.  We thank him heartily for his years of faithful service; he has left a legacy that the board is eternally grateful for.”

Mr. Danforth’s position is being restructured as part of a larger expansion of The Drama League staff, including the addition of an Associate Producer, Development Director and Artistic/Education Programs Director.  A national search will begin soon for these positions. More information will be announced shortly on our Career Opportunities page.

Before departing, Danforth will shepherd the selection of the 2016 Fellows and launch The Drama League’s summer fellowship programs, in partnership with the Hangar Theatre (Ithaca, NY); Signature Theatre (Washington, DC); the Old Globe (San Diego, CA); Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (Garrison, NY); Shakespeare and Company (Lenox, MA); and more.