“I’m Over The Moon” Loretta Greco Joins The Huntington as New Artistic Director
3,332 miles. The distance from San Francisco’s Magic Theatre to Boston’s Huntington Theatre. It was announced today that Loretta Greco will join The Huntington as the theatre’s fourth artistic director beginning July 1, 2022. After 12 years of leading The Magic, Greco is ready to pack her bags and make the cross country trip to join the famed Boston institution where she will be the first woman in the role. The Huntington’s previous Artistic Director, Peter DuBois, resigned in October of 2020.
I recently caught up with Greco to chat about putting down new roots in the Northeast, her experience at the Magic, and her hopes for the future of The Huntington. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Boston! Tell me about your history with the city. Have you traveled there much?
My sister went to BU and got a job with Ink Magazine right off the bat so I would always go up and visit here in Boston. We would go to the MFA and wander all around! To say I know the city would be a big fat lie. When I went back just recently, it was incredible though, so this is going to be me wrapping my arms around a new city. I mean, I know where to get a kind of good meal in the North End and I definitely know my way to the Symphony! I'm super stoked because it was always a fascinating city to me.
So 12 years at the Magic. What did your time there teach you?
Oh so many things. One is just say yes! Say yes, lead by saying yes — don't do a marketing survey, don't see what everybody's going to feel comfortable with. Trust your instincts and say yes to artists and pieces of art that you are excited by as an audience member! Another valuable lesson I learned is that it is very rare that the answer to a challenge is throwing more money at it. The Magic is a very small theater and we did big, ambitious work and it forced us to be creative in lots of new ways and to cross-pollinate ideas in the most exciting ways and to get big shit done. We're here to take big risks, to tell big stories; to tell the stories that need to be told.
You have really fostered some incredible relationships over the years with your collaborators from Taylor Mac to Mfoniso Udofia. Are you excited to bring those working relationships up to Boston?
I can't wait to get to know Kirsten [Greenidge], and I recently just met Melinda [Lopez] and Lydia Diamond, oh my goodness. I want to see how I can help left and elevate all of those beautiful relationships. And yes, Taylor is going to be a part of this place. Mfoniso is going to be a part of this place. All of those writers, it was about taking leaps of faith in people over time. You forge really deep relationships and they are so important — it's just been my absolute privilege and honor to work with them. They're not going to get over the fence that quickly! I'm not going to let any of them go, it's so great to watch them as artists pivot and do new things. What they have in common is that they dream big, they are all groundbreakers who aren't afraid to do something that hasn't been done before!
How do you define the role of an Artistic Director?
I see it as a thought leader, the person who, with the managing director, sets the culture for the organization and who walks the walk. You've got to model what your values are and lead. I really believe that an artistic director has to help prod the culture forward and that you can only do with great writers because it's their stories that's doing that. But you always have to make room for emerging, mid-career, and our statesmen to be able to tell those stories. You've got to be bold and willing to make space to sometimes share things that are uncomfortable that help us. I go to the theater to grow, I go to the theater to be stretched and you've got to be willing to do that. We've got to be bold in having faith in writers and artists.
How do you approach programming a season with everything you just mentioned? You are sitting down, clean slate, ready for your first in Boston, what goes through your mind.
I will say I have the great privilege of having a little bit of breathing room because Michael [Maso] and the artistic staff have put together just an incredible next season. I will say this, there is always alchemy when programming a season. You find a play that you love and then that becomes like an anchor and then things always just seem to fall into place. You realize that there's another play that’s just standing and speaking to that play and then another play. Some of it is about the zeitgeist, about where our heads are at. And some of it is just kind of chemical and serendipitous in terms of who you love and who's new to you and how those plays speak to one another.
Tell me one hope you have for The Huntington in your era as AD.
One of my many hopes for The Huntington is that more regularly the work we do is resonating all over the country. I don't tend to look at American theater as New York centric. I realize that that's the capital, but it's not the only place where great art is being made. I would like to see us impact the canon and to see theaters of all sizes all over the country doing some of the new work that we do and the reimagined classics that we will bring to the fore.
Are you already making your list of all the restaurants you can’t wait to try in Beantown?
I'm arriving in July. I have 14 years in the Bay. My husband has 30 years in the Bay. He raised two girls and I raised mine. So there's a lot of purging and packing, and there's going to be a lot of tears and emotions but I can't wait. I am certainly going to need a restaurant list for sure. Excited for this new adventure and chapter and can’t wait to get started!