T2 announces departure of its executive director, Martin Miller

T2 announces departure of its executive director, Martin Miller

When they met in 2009, TheatreSquared was a toddler, and Martin Miller was associate producer for Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

“When I visited for the interview, I saw the company’s production of ‘Rabbit Hole,’ by David Lindsay-Abaire,” Miller remembers. “It was incredible — the quality of the acting, the direction, the emotional truth of it. It was staged in a converted warehouse, there was barely any audience, and hardly any budget. But I thought, if the work on stage is this good — we can figure the rest of it out!”

Thirteen years later, T2 is welcoming 85,000 patrons a year to an award-winning permanent space; it has won its very own Obie Award; Lincoln Center is about to open a play premiered in Fayetteville; and the name TheatreSquared is known “from the pages of The New York Times to stages across the country,” as Board President Todd Simmons puts it.

And Miller has tendered his resignation as executive director/producer. In September, Miller will become executive director for the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., joining Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen to lead the two-time Tony Award-winning institution, which will celebrate its 100-year anniversary this decade.

“In 2019, my wife accepted a position as a professor in the department of music at Princeton, and our family moved there,” Miller explains. “Since then, I’ve split my time between Fayetteville and Princeton, and while our team adapted admirably, it’s been challenging to miss my kids’ recitals, plays, debates — and just our family dinners.

“The bench of talent at TheatreSquared has never been stronger,” he goes on. “Next season is incredible. While there are certainly challenges — rebuilding attendance, the changing regional funding landscape, and the city’s historic and persistent reluctance to invest in public support for the arts — there’s also unending potential for TheatreSquared to become even more remarkable in the years ahead. I think the company is ready.”

“We’ll miss Martin profoundly, but we are just as deeply thankful for his indelible contribution to Northwest Arkansas’ cultural landscape and to the American theater,” says Simmons. “He’s leaving a legacy.”

“Martin is a brilliantly talented visionary who’s done so much to bring us to where we are,” adds Bob Ford, T2 founder and artistic director. “He arrived at a grassroots, small company and departs one of the nation’s top producing regional theaters, treasured by its community and celebrated across the American stage. His DNA infuses every aspect of this company, and it always will.”

TheatreSquared’s board has instituted its succession process and appointed an Executive Transition Committee led by Simmons, alongside Esther Silver-Parker, Leigh Hopkins, Judy Schwab, and Ford. The committee will gather input “through conversation with key stakeholders and staff” and will announce next steps in the succession process by the end of August, prior to Miller’s departure.

Miller says he’s proud of many things — “our access programs that extend free and reduced-cost tickets to 10,000 neighbors every year, of the vibrant space that is the open-all-day Commons, of the fact that TheatreSquared’s name is now known and respected across the American theater” — but perhaps surviving the pandemic is his greatest legacy.

“When covid hit in March of 2020, many peers quickly laid off staff,” he remembers. “We understood why, but we also knew that would have a major effect on the culture we’d worked to build. We committed to keeping our team intact. By June, we started bringing digital work into people’s living rooms. By August, we were a PCR testing site and were streaming from the stage. National critics took note, and suddenly we were on The New York Times’s Best of the Year list. … The whole field is still recovering, and we’re no exception. But I’m deeply proud of the work our team did to guide the company through the crisis.”

For Miller, his new role is “exciting” and “also a significant responsibility.”

“I’ll be joining an institution that’s just a few years shy of celebrating its 100th anniversary,” he says. “To think that it’s the same stage where ‘Our Town’ first premiered, to walk past the Tony Awards in the lobby … I’m looking forward to a new challenge, but TheatreSquared and Northwest Arkansas will always be in my DNA.”


Listen Here!

Martin Miller and Bob Ford are guests on this week’s “Know the News” podcast. Listen at https://www.nwaonline.com/podcast/.

Categories: Theater