Michael J. Bobbitt joins New Repertory Theatre as artistic director
On August 1, 2019, arts leader, director, choreographer and playwright Michael J. Bobbitt will join the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown as artistic director. Bobbitt has an extensive resume of work, most recently transforming the Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland into a hub for young art-lovers.
After 12 years with Adventure Theatre-MTC, Bobbitt is ready for a fresh challenge, he says. Continuing to connect with young audiences and to support diverse artists are high on his list of priorities for his New Rep tenure. “What New Rep does is already wonderful, especially with its community conversations,” he says. “I know they’re very committed to diversity and racial equity, so I think I can do a lot of work on that side. I think the whole world is becoming more equitable, and I believe that organizations that aren’t diversifying, in 10 years won’t be around.”
Bobbitt began his career in the artistic weeds as a director, choreographer and playwright. “I found my way to the arts at a very young age. I think the arts is a vocation and it sort of finds you,” he says. His national credits include La Jolla Playhouse, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Jefferson Performing Arts Center and the Olympics, among many others. But the more he became involved in the arts, the more Bobbitt realized how important the business side of things was. He says, “In my mid-30s, I decided I wanted to make art happen for myself instead of waiting for the phone to ring. And I started focusing on the other aspects of being an artist — the business side, the management side.”
Now, that wide range of skills will translate perfectly into leading a community-oriented theatre like New Rep. Bobbitt says he’s enjoyed playing more of a behind-the-scenes role, supporting artists and making space for their work. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be heavily involved in the 2019-2020 season. Bobbitt says he’ll be directing and perhaps also choreographing the production of “Oliver!” in November and December. He’s also looking forward to staging “Fences” by August Wilson, which will highlight black talent.
Bobbitt says, “The world is majority people of color. So beyond the social justice aspect and what’s right, from a business aspect it’s smart to serve the community that you’re in. I think the Boston area is such a diverse community, and our organizations need to look like that.”