Two of New York City’s longest-serving theatrical artistic directors will step down in the near future: Carole Rothman from Second Stage and André Bishop from Lincoln Center Theater.
Bishop announced Friday, September 22 that he plans to conclude his 33-year leadership in June 2025, which marks the close of Lincoln Center Theater’s 40th anniversary season. Rothman, who founded Second Stage and has led the company for 45 years, will end her tenure in the spring of 2024.
Both Rothman and Bishop have remarkable track records. Rothman has programmed Pulitzer Prize winners including Between Riverside and Crazy, Water by the Spoonful, Dear Evan Hansen, and Next to Normal, and has championed the works of writers like Anna Deavere Smith, Leslye Headland, Douglas Carter Beane, Young Jean Lee, and Tina Howe. Bishop’s tenure has included lauded revivals of South Pacific, The King and I, Carousel, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Awake and Sing!, as well as The Coast of Utopia, Oslo, Disgraced, The Light in the Piazza, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Contact, The Sisters Rosensweig, and Parade, among many others.
They also worked to expand their companies’ footprints, with Rothman’s Second Stage going from the McGinn/Cazale Theater on the Upper West Side (where it still programs work) to the empty bank on 43rd Street that became the Tony Kiser Theater, and now to the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway. Bishop, who programs Broadway productions in the VIvian Beaumont Theater and off-Broadway shows in Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, oversaw the creation of the Claire Tow Theater and the LCT3 program, which nurtures new writers and audiences.
Their respective retirements mark an ongoing sea change in the New York City theater ecosystem; Roundabout Theatre Company lost its artistic director, Todd Haimes, to cancer in April, while Andrew Leynse, the longtime artistic director of Primary Stages, died from an infection in January. Robert LuPone, one of the group of leaders at MCC Theater, passed from pancreatic cancer in August 2022. The transitions are similar across the country, with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney taking over stewardship of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, Stevie Walker-Webb coming in to lead Baltimore Central Stage, and Tim Bond joining Oregon Shakespeare Festival, among many other recent appointments.