Obie-winning director Melia Bensussen has been named the new artistic director of Hartford Stage, marking the first time a woman has taken on the helm at the Connecticut theatre in its 55-year history. She succeeds Darko Tresnjak, who has served as artistic director since 2011 and who, as previously announced, will depart Hartford Stage at the close of the 2018–19 season.
“I am honored and thrilled to be appointed Hartford Stage’s next Artistic Director, and I look forward to following in the footsteps of the distinguished and committed artists who have previously served as Artistic Directors at Hartford Stage,” Bensussen said in a statement. “Hartford Stage’s national reputation, its history of bringing world-class artists to Hartford, and its extraordinary commitment to education in this region all make for a thriving institution. I look forward to working with a great staff and board to further develop Hartford Stage’s high profile, as well as to increase community engagement and further expand its importance to the city of Hartford and environs.”
Bensussen first worked at Hartford Stage as an assistant director to Emily Mann on a 1986 production of A Doll House (a new translation by Irene B. Berman of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House), and returned to the theatre in 2003 to direct Edwin Sánchez’s Diosa. She is the recipient of an Obie for her direction of The Turn of the Screw, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the story by Henry James, at Primary Stages, as well as two Directing Awards by the Princess Grace Foundation, including their top honor, the Statue Award for Sustained Excellence in Directing.
She has directed production across the county, including at Huntington Theatre Company, Shakespeare & Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Bay Street Theatre, and Playwrights Horizons, among others.
“I am thrilled that the renowned director Melia Bensussen has thrown her hat in the ring and that our Search Committee, in their infinite wisdom, has chosen her to succeed me as the sixth Artistic Director of Hartford Stage," commented Tresnjak. "I hope that Melia will find her time at Hartford Stage as joyous and as fulfilling as I have. I look forward to experiencing the moments and to savoring the memories that Melia will conjure at Hartford Stage.”