Brian B. Crowe, a Wright State University theatre graduate, was named the next artistic director of the acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, one of the leading Shakespeare theatre companies in the nation.
Crowe, the company’s director of education, will succeed Bonnie J. Monte, who has served as theatre’s artistic director for 34 years. Crowe will assume his new role on Jan. 1, 2024.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company whose Main Stage is located on the Drew University campus. It is New Jersey’s largest professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world classics.
Crowe joined The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in 1996 as a directing intern. Monte identified him as a young artist with tremendous promise, and he moved up through the company’s ranks in his first years with the company.
He played a key role in the creation of “Shakespeare LIVE!,” the organization’s flagship touring company. He also teaches classes, residencies and audition workshops and oversees the theatre’s Summer Professional Training Program, which provides hands-on training for early career theatre artists.
Crowe has distinguished himself as a talented stage director, mounting acclaimed productions known for their inventiveness and visual effects.
During his tenure with the company, Crowe has directed 27 plays in Shakespeare’s canon as well as numerous other plays, including his original works based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, “Nevermore: The Final Nightmares of Edgar Allan Poe,” and Lewis Carroll, “Wonderland … and What Was Found There.”
Crowe, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing and Acting at Wright State, said the university’s Theatre Program afforded him many important opportunities during his formative years as a theatre artist.
“The supportive faculty — especially Bruce Cromer, Mark Olsen and Robert Hetherington — encouraged me to find my unique voice and challenged me to go farther than I thought possible in the craft of making theatre,” he said. “The wonderful spaces in which students had a chance to work became the cauldron in which so many theatrical experiments were brought to life.”
Crowe accomplished many firsts as a Wright State student, including directing his first Shakespeare production, creating his first touring production, and writing and producing his first original works. Several of the pieces he started in the Celebration Black Box Theatre, which is now called the Herbst Theatre, eventually developed into full productions or tours.
“Having that supportive space in which students could try out new ideas and be safe to fail or fly nurtured confidence and boldness in the art I created years later,” he said. “So much of the theatre I create today has developed from the seeds planted in those early years at Wright State.”
Since graduating, Crowe has maintained an active relationship with Wright State Theatre, conducting workshops with students, recruiting actors and technicians for Shakespeare Theatre summer programs, and involving faculty and graduates in his productions.
“I’ve always thought of Brian as one of our most active partners in bringing grads into the earliest phases of their professions,” said Joe Deer, artistic director and distinguished professor of musical theatre at Wright State.
Crowe has worked with other theatre organizations throughout his career, including The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, where he was a resident company member, The Dayton Playhouse, Twelve Miles West Theatre Co. and the Mason Gross School for the Arts at Rutgers University.
He is an alumnus of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Summer Professional Training Program and was a fellow at the 2000 International Salzburg Shakespeare Seminar.
Crowe has conducted Shakespeare workshops at universities around the country and was an adjunct instructor at Drew University. He also served on the executive committee of the Shakespeare Theatre Association from 2019 to 2022.