Psacharopoulos, Nikos, -1989

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Nikos Psacharopoulos was a Greek-born director best known for his long-term association with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

From the description of Nikos Psacharopoulos papers, 1925-1987. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122363902

Nikos Psacharopoulos was a Greek-born director best known for his long-term association with the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Born in Athens, Greece on January 18, 1928 Psacharopoulos claimed to have started his own theater troupe at the age of 15 in Nazi-occupied Greece. In 1947 he came to the United States to study at Oberlin College, where he directed several productions by the Oberlin Mummers. Then it was on to the Yale School of Drama, from which he received an MFA in directing in 1954.

In 1955 the fledgling Williamstown Summer Theatre invited the 27-year-old Psacharopoulos to be an Associate Director. He accepted, returning the next year as the Artistic and Executive Director - and establishing a benevolent dictatorship that would last for 44 years. He instituted a rigorous schedule of 10-12 shows per season, generally with 2-3 weeks rehearsal time for each show.

In the 1950s the Williamstown Summer Theatre performed mainly modern classics, for example, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Our Town . Widespread critical acclaim came in the early 1960s with a series of renowned Chekhov cycles. The later 1960s involved ambitious fare for summer theater, with epics like Iphigeneia at Aulis and Peer Gynt . The Williamstown Summer Theatre branched out in the 1970s: creating a touring, more experimental, Second Company (1972); a Cabaret ensemble (1973); and organizing regular Sunday Special Events (1974). Along with its new image came a new name - the Williamstown Summer Theatre officially became the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1974. The 1980s took the WTF outdoors with Free Theatre productions, and onto television through taped performances on PBS and HBO.

Throughout his tenure at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the irrepressible Nikos (as everyone called him) personally directed at least two shows per season. He was also involved in numerous outside projects. He taught acting steadily at Yale and Circle-in-the-Square. In the 1950s his revival of the Play of Daniel was first performed at The Cloisters and subsequently toured North America and Europe. During the 1960s and 1970s, Psacharopoulos directed several operas for the New York City Opera, Broadway shows (most notably, Langston Hughes’s Tambourines to Glory ), and Androcles and the Lion for the American Shakespeare Festival.

After surgery for cancer, Psacharopoulos and his fiancée Jean Hackett went on vacation to the Virgin Islands. He died there on January 12, 1989, six days before his 61st birthday.

From the guide to the Nikos Psacharopoulos papers, 1925-1987, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arbuzov, Alekseĭ Nikolaevich. person
associatedWith Danner, Blythe person
associatedWith Danner, Blythe. person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Reeve, Christopher, 1952-2004. person
associatedWith Williams, Tennessee, 1911-1983. person
associatedWith Williamstown Theatre Festival corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Summer theater
Williamstown Theatre Festival


Birth 1929-01-18

Death 1989-01-12



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SNAC ID: 40404277