A.R.T.'s Diane Paulus On Time's 100 Most Influential People List

Diane Paulus. (Courtesy Susan Lapides/American Repertory Theater)
Diane Paulus. (Courtesy Susan Lapides/American Repertory Theater)

Diane Paulus, artistic director of the American Repertory Theater, is one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time Magazine, which released its 2014 list today.

This does not necessarily mean that Paulus will be a candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination. According to Time: “The TIME 100 is not a list of the most powerful people in the world, it’s not a list of the smartest people in the world, it’s a list of the most influential people in the world. They’re scientists, they’re thinkers, they’re philosophers, they’re leaders, they’re icons, they’re artists, they’re visionaries. People who are using their ideas, their visions, their actions to transform the world and have an effect on a multitude of people.”

One of Paulus’s primary tenets since becoming head of the company in 2009 has been to expand the boundaries of theater, which she has certainly done (sometimes to the consternation of those who preferred the spikier Brustein-Woodruff aesthetic). This year alone, the A.R.T. has produced commercial and critical successes like “All the Way” (with Byran Cranston), “The Heart of Robin Hood,” and “The Shape She Makes” (currently at Oberon). “Witness Uganda” was enormously popular with audiences.

“All the Way” is the latest A.R.T. production that emigrated to New York after beginning here. “Pippin” and “Sleep No More” are still there, following in the footsteps of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “The Glass Menagerie.” A musical about the Boston Red Sox, “Johnny Baseball,” that shifted the legendary “curse” to former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey’s racist ways, had another incarnation at the Williamstown Theater Festival recently.

Audra McDonald, who starred in “Porgy and Bess,” wrote the Time piece on Paulus, saying, in part:

“She’s open to the whole experience that is theater. She’ll take a good idea from anyone, and she’s willing to try anything. It can be as wild and imaginative as possible — as long as it’s authentic … Diane won a Tony Award for her revival of the musical “Pippin." So many people think they know the piece, but she made it refreshingly new by staging it in a circus atmosphere. It comes from her sense of play — nothing is sacred and everything is sacred. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Paulus is also a sought-after director. Her revival of “Hair” won the Tony and Elliot Norton Awards. She also directed Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna,” which opens May 29 at Boston Marine Industrial Park on the waterfront.

Paulus said in a statement:

“I am deeply honored by this recognition, which for me, is a tribute to the incredible collaboration I have enjoyed over the last several years with the many artists, audiences, producers, and advocates of the arts that I have been lucky enough to work with, including the extraordinary team at the American Repertory Theater and Harvard University. It has always been my goal for theater to have an impact on the world we live in, as I know it can and should, and to be represented on this list is a thrilling sign that we are on our way.”

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Ed Siegel Critic-At-Large
Ed Siegel is critic-at-large for WBUR.



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