We were in the closing moments of my talk with Michael Kahn, then in the midst of directing two Pinter one acts. Given his recent announcement that he will leave Shakespeare Theatre Company in July, 2019, after more than thirty years at its head, I asked how involved with the company he intends to be after leaving.
“When I leave the theater, I will leave it with great joy and great pride, but I’m leaving. And, who knows, if an artistic director, a successor, says they’d like me to come back and do a play, and it makes sense, I think I might do that. I will always know what’s going on with Shakespeare, but I think a new group of people coming in really need to be unencumbered with what was there before, certainly artistically.
“But, no, I won’t be one of those people who have a contract that calls you a consultant or something. I don’t believe in that.
“The reason that I announced when I was leaving, really three years before I was, was so that the Board would have time to find a new artistic director, and that they would have my last year in order to be able to plan their first season [2019-2020].
“And that was very important to me, that I would not be making a season for someone who would be stuck with having to do those plays. I wanted them to be able to say, ‘This is who I am, this is what I believe in, this is where I think the theatre should go,’ and be completely free to do that.
“And that’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to this year. The staff the other day said, ‘Well, you know, what are you really most excited about this year? Which of your plays?’ And I said, ‘Well, actually, the truth is, I’m most excited about the fact that the theater will be looking for someone else and making some very strong decisions about what they believe the theater is and where it should go.’
“That actually is rather fascinating to me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that transpires. So that, for me, is almost the most fun and the thing to look forward to this year, is that, by the end of this season, there will be somebody else.
“And then I’ll have some time; I’ll be able to make the transition easy.”