Merrimack Repertory Theatre is on a mission: become a national leader in new play production. Which is no small feat, since refining a new script to perfection might take years. And workshops for developing new plays are time consuming, expensive, and have tricky logistics.
Luckily, MRT has a secret weapon: Alexander Greenfield.
Alexander has come a long way since he first got hooked on theatre in 2nd grade, appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with his after-school Shakespeare club. He now boasts an eclectic and impressive director’s resume that includes work at theatres around the country and no fewer than eight Broadway credits as an associate/assistant director–mostly alongside his mentor, Tony-winning director, Doug Hughes (Doubt). Hughes has called Alex, “a prodigy; a great thinker with great heart who is wonderfully capable of translating bold ideas into richly entertaining and memorable theater.”
MRT’s Director of New Play Development since last summer, Alex has found that the connection to the community in Lowell has greatly enhanced his theatre-making in ways that his freelancer career based out of New York could not.
“As a freelance director, you spend a lot of time pitching plays,” Alex explains. “I’d read an amazing play, but then there would be a three-year process of reaching out to producers and saying ‘please read this script,’ and waiting in limbo. There can be a feeling of powerlessness.”
Now at MRT, that powerlessness is gone. Alexander spends his days working tirelessly on what we call our “pipeline” of new plays: works in various stages of development by some of the best artists working today. MRT invests in those plays and artists early, and gives them a home here in Lowell. Alexander’s MRT directing debut is Going to See the Kid, and it’s just the start; he’s already knee-deep in new projects with playwrights, composers, and actors that could land not just in the 2017-18 Season, but also the 2018-19 or even 2019-2020 Season.
Alexander doesn’t just direct new works; he walks them through their whole life’s journey, from hatchling writing stages to the productions that you’ll see on the MRT stage in the years to come. He finds the best talent in the American theatre scene, and gets that talent to our city—not just so we can see their work, but also so that those artists experience what a great town this is for theatre-making. From workshops in partnership with UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College, to enjoying dinner at one of our great downtown restaurants, to the free housing they enjoy at MRT: Lowell has a ton going for it from an artist’s point of view.
Raised in Atlanta, Alexander has been following Artistic Director Sean Daniels’ career from Sean’s early days as Artistic Director and co-Founder of Dad’s Garage. “When Sean took over at MRT, I was avidly following the press releases coming from the theatre,” Alexander remembers, “and think ‘Man, this is so smart… if I was taking over a theatre of this size, this is exactly what I’d be doing.’ It’s exciting and even moving to be able to champion these artists, to bring them here, to share their talent with the community, and to share the community with them.”
“I’m thrilled to do new plays,” Alex notes. “Here at MRT, we’re blessed with an audience that will come out and see a play no one’s heard of. At so many theatres, they’re doing classics, or something that was just a big hit in New York and already has buzz. All those shows are great—but how thrilling to be at an institution where the core and heart of what we’re doing is being the trendsetter.”
LOVES TO BINGE-WATCH: The Hannibal TV series: “If you’ve a strong stomach, it has fiendishly good acting and stunning art direction.”
FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL: Dublin, Ireland: “The scale of the city is so wonderful, the people are so great, and there’s an energy. I have no Irish heritage whatsoever, but I feel a sort of honorary kinship there because of the literary tradition. People there, in general, love the theatre. I’d get into a cab to go to rehearsal, and the cab driver would know the whole season at the theatre, knew the artistic director’s name, and wanted to talk to me about how rehearsals were going. I can’t imagine that ever happening in a cab in New York.”
(But Lowell? Maybe one day soon.)