But don’t expect the Huntington to turn into some hotbed of the avant-garde. “I feel like I really am standing on Nicky Martin’s shoulders,” says DuBois. “I’m not taking the theater in a radically different direction. We probably think about theater differently, because we grew up during different times. I get very inspired by the notion of connoisseurship, of people developing the same kind of passion for theater that they have for food. I’m a big fan of Barbara Lynch’s restaurants, and I love the way you come in and you know exactly where your ingredients come from. You’re watching the chef cook the meal. And I’m very interested in giving people insight into the theater-making process. We’ve already got a blog going, but we’re starting podcasts with the artists, so that audience members can learn about what’s going into the projects before they come through the doors.”
An unabashed “lover of language,” DuBois is probably more text-oriented than Paulus. He plans to expand the new-play-development program, already a strong arm of the Huntington, which every two years commissions four Playwriting Fellows and each spring presents a festival of new plays. “Our Breaking Ground festival is really starting to take off and develop an audience,” says DuBois. In the future, however, the five-play showdown will have what you might call a winner: one dramatist who gets a working Provincetown vacation complete with director, actors, and designers, as well as a firm commitment that the Huntington will then produce the work. “The great thing about that,” adds DuBois, “is that, when we head into rehearsals, we know we’ve got not only a better script but a community built around the play.”
Like Martin did before him, DuBois comes to his post with a bulging Rolodex. As associate producer at the Public, he oversaw all international collaborations. “So there’s relationships I developed at London’s Royal Court and at the Donmar Warehouse and at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin,” he says. He’s excited by the notion of company residencies and mentions New York–based LAByrinth Theater Company, whose co–artistic director, Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, he directed in Jack Goes Boating at the Public. He plans to bring more music and stand-up to the Huntington Presents series, and in January to turn the Deane Rehearsal Hall at the Calderwood into a cabaret. “I feel like I take a very eclectic approach to what theater can and should be,” DuBois says. “I also think I’m an ambitious guy, and I have strong ambitions for this theater."
It’s an ambition that extends across the water. Though you might think of DuBois and Paulus as friendly competitors, they act like two kids eyeing the sandbox that is the local Rialto. “Diane and I are committed to making Boston the hot scene in the country for artists to come to,” says DuBois. “I think we have missions that are different but complementary.” Eustis agrees. “Diane,” he says, “has one of the most fierce minds I’ve encountered in the American theater, and Peter has one of the greatest hearts and spirits. That these two together are taking on theater in Boston is very exciting.”
Carolyn Clay is the Phoenix’s theater critic. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.