Arts & Culture

A.R.T.’s Diane Borger to step down

After 12 years as executive producer, she will return to London

6 min read
Diane Borger.

Diane Borger joined the American Repertory Theater in the fall of 2009. She will step down in June.

Credit: Liza Voll Photography

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) announced today that Diane Borger will step down from her role as executive producer on June 30. Borger will  return to London where she spent the first 30 years of her career. She will join the A.R.T.’ Board of Advisers this summer.

“Diane Borger’s impact on the A.R.T. has been transformational, from the very first show she produced — the groundbreaking, immersive ‘Sleep No More’ — to her active mentoring of Harvard undergraduates into careers in the field,” said Diane Paulus, Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the A.R.T. “I have witnessed with awe and admiration her remarkable ability to build relationships with artists and provide conditions for bold, risk-taking work to flourish. As a director, I have experienced time and again her genius in understanding the creative process, from her dramaturgical insights to her steady guidance in delivering a production. I will forever cherish these last 12 years of our creative partnership.”

Borger and Paulus have worked closely to advance A.R.T.’s mission to expand the boundaries of theater, always including the audience as a central partner. Together, they have made A.R.T. a home for emerging and established artists from myriad disciplines to take risks as they create and incubate new work, drawing on the research opportunities afforded by the theater’s relationship with Harvard University. New plays and musicals developed in Cambridge over the past 12 years have gone on to reach audiences across the country, on Broadway, in London’s West End, and around the world, including at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.

“Diane Borger’s impact on the A.R.T. has been transformational,” said Diane Paulus (left). Paulus and Borger have collaborated at the A.R.T. for the past 12 years.

Credit: A Priori Photography

Diane Paulus and Diane Borger.

Prior to the A.R.T., Borger served as general manager of the Royal Court Theatre and the deputy head of the National Theatre Studio in London. Her longstanding relationships with British artists laid the foundation for numerous collaborations at the A.R.T. In 2011, John Tiffany used A.R.T.’s club theater Oberon to develop the stage adaptation of the film “Once.” The musical, featuring a set inspired by Oberon, won eight Tony Awards in 2012. Tiffany returned to A.R.T. to direct a new production of “The Glass Menagerie” that transferred to Broadway in 2013 and received six Tony Award nominations. Other collaborations with artists and theaters from the U.K. and Ireland include the world premiere production of “Wild Swans,” an adaptation of the book by Jung Chang and co-produced with the Young Vic Theatre of London.  In addition there were visiting productions of “The Plough and the Stars,” “1984,” and “Barber Shop Chronicles.”

As the A.R.T. liaison to the Harvard-Radcliffe Drama Club and the producing associate in Harvard’s concentration in Theater, Dance & Media, Borger has mentored and advised students working at the Loeb Drama Center and across Harvard’s campus, as well as those developing work in collaboration with the professional staff of the A.R.T. These projects have included A.R.T.’s family shows, which for the past three seasons have been written, composed, and performed entirely by Harvard undergraduate students (“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Thumbelina: A Little Musical,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure”). In the fall of 2020, Borger taught “Nonprofit Producing: Resourcing Creativity and Innovation,” the first producing course ever offered in Harvard’s Theater, Dance & Media concentration.

“Diane’s mentorship changed the lives of an entire generation of undergraduates, including my own, by giving us the confidence to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment,” says Kevin Lin ’12 who first met Borger as an A.R.T. intern when he was a biology concentrator at Harvard. He is now an agent and co-head of the Cultural Business Strategy Group at Creative Artists Agency. “For so many of my friends and colleagues in the theater industry, she guided us towards and helped us chase professional opportunities that otherwise would have felt impossible.”

The June 29 episode of A.R.T.’s virtual talk show “The Lunch Room” will feature Lin, Broadway producer Madeleine Foster Bersin ’14, former A.R.T. director of special projects/Oberon producer Ari Barbanell, and A.R.T. artistic producer Mark Lunsford in conversation about Borger’s mentorship and impact on their respective careers. “The Lunch Room” airs live Tuesdays at noon. Learn more at “The Lunch Room” website.

A.R.T.’s Spring Celebration in June will feature special appearances and performances from past and upcoming productions, and will include a tribute to Borger. For more information about the event to be held online on June 5 at 7:30 p.m., visit the website.

“It has been a privilege and a joy to serve as the executive producer of the A.R.T.,” says Borger. “When I agreed to come to Cambridge in 2009 to produce ‘Sleep No More,’ I never imagined it would be the start of 12 of the most extraordinary years of my career, and that I would land in such an incredible partnership with Diane Paulus. I am grateful to the staff, boards, volunteers, and esteemed Harvard colleagues with whom I’ve had the good fortune to work over the past decade. A producer’s work is rooted in relationships, and I have the most enormous appreciation for the remarkable students and artists with whom I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate.”

“All of us at the A.R.T. are grateful to Diane for her transformative leadership, artistic intuition, and ability to build meaningful strategic relationships,” says Andrew Ory, chair of the A.R.T. Board of Trustees. “We thank her for her stewardship of the theater through this year like no other and for helping to launch A.R.T.’s process of building anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice into our structure, culture, and governance, setting an important foundation for the institution’s next chapter.”

A search committee composed of A.R.T. staff and board members has been formed to select a search firm and lead the process to identify the theater’s new co-leader.