LouisvilleKY’s Actors Theatre announces departure of Les Waters


Louisville, KY – Les Waters and the Board of Directors announced today that Mr. Waters will step down as Artistic Director after six seasons at the helm of the Tony Award-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville. Waters will depart in the summer of 2018, following the close of the 2017-2018 season, to pursue personal projects.

Les Waters said today, “It has been a privilege to lead, along with Jennifer Bielstein and lately Kevin E. Moore, one of America’s great artistic institutions. I am deeply grateful to the Board, staff, artists, volunteers and audiences for all their support. Together we have had considerable success and we’ve made many great shows during my tenure. Actors Theatre is the cornerstone of new American theatre, and I look forward to returning as both a guest artist and visitor to experience its continuing artistic excellence and growth. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of Actors Theatre.”

“The Board of Directors at Actors Theatre has been honored to work with such an innovative leader as Les Waters for the past six seasons, and on behalf of all of us, I wish him the best as he pursues new artistic adventures,” said Board President Elizabeth Rounsavall. “Thanks to his efforts, we are leaders in our field and are grateful to him for his influence locally, nationally and internationally. As was the case with our search for Les, we are committed to finding a leader who will continue to position Actors Theatre as a great home to art in the 21st century, keep us at the forefront of new play development through the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, and contribute to a culturally vibrant Greater Louisville community.”

Les Waters

Kevin E. Moore, Managing Director, added, “Les Waters’ artistic impact, both locally and nationally, is immeasurable. He has introduced an exciting and diverse array of new plays into the American repertoire. Les’s dedication to developing artists has changed the way Actors Theatre produces, deepening collaborative efforts throughout the organization. We will truly miss him and we are grateful for all he has done for Louisville and Actors Theatre.”

Waters’ artistic leadership invigorated the long-running Humana Festival of New American Plays. His decision to double Actors Theatre’s commissioning program resulted in Humana Festival-debuted plays being seen across the country, such as Lucas Hnath’s The Christians. Through Waters’ collaboration with playwrights of national significance, Actors Theatre has been the stage for remarkable productions including new works by Hnath, Sarah Ruhl, Naomi Iizuka, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Will Eno and Charles Mee, and others. During his tenure, he has worked to diversify both programming and artists represented on stage. In addition to his work in Louisville, Waters maintains a strong national presence, shepherding works from Actors Theatre’s Brown-Forman Mainstage Series and Humana Festival to audiences across the country, such as Playwrights Horizons, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Rep and the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

During Waters’ time with the company, he has directed such plays as Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday, Charles Mee’s The Glory of the World, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’s Recent Alien Abductions, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale, Naomi Iizuka’s At the Vanishing Point, Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, Will Eno’s Gnit, Todd Almond’s Girlfriend, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Programming for Actors Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season will be selected under Mr. Waters’ direction, with the lineup to be announced in February 2018.

The search for a new Artistic Director will commence under the guidance of a firm to be announced shortly.


About Les Waters

In his six seasons of leadership at Actors Theatre, Les Waters has produced 78 plays, 18 of which he directed in Louisville, and doubled Actors Theatre’s commissioning program. As Artistic Director, Waters’ Actors Theatre directing credits include Sarah Ruhl’s For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday, Charles Mee’s The Glory of the World, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas’s Recent Alien Abductions, Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale, Naomi Iizuka’s At the Vanishing Point, Lucas Hnath’s The Christians, Will Eno’s Gnit, Todd Almond’s Girlfriend, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. Waters made his Broadway debut with Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) in 2009, and has numerous credits in New York including Signature Theatre Company, Soho Rep., The Public Theater, Second Stage Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Classic Stage Company, Connelly Theater and Clubbed Thumb. Regional credits include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, American Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theatre.


About Actors Theatre of Louisville

Les Waters, Artistic Director
Kevin E. Moore, Managing Director

Now in its 54th Season, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the State Theatre of Kentucky, is the flagship arts organization in the Louisville community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Les Waters and Managing Director Kevin E. Moore, Actors Theatre serves to unlock human potential, build community, and enrich quality of life by engaging people in theatre that reflects the wonder and complexity of our time.

Actors Theatre presents almost 350 performances annually and delivers a broad range of programming, including classics and contemporary work through the Brown-Forman Series, holiday plays, a series of free theatrical events produced by the Professional Training Company, and the Humana Festival of New American Plays—the premier new play festival in the nation, which has introduced 450 plays into the American theatre repertoire over the past 41 years. In addition, Actors Theatre provides more than 15,000 arts experiences each year to students across the region through its Education Department, and boasts one of the nation’s most prestigious continuing pre-professional resident training companies, now in its 46th year.

Over the past half-century, Actors Theatre has also emerged as one of America’s most consistently innovative professional theatre companies, with an annual attendance of 140,000. Actors Theatre has been the recipient of some of the most prestigious awards bestowed on a regional theatre, including a Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement, the James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of Professional Theatre, and the Margo Jones Award for the Encouragement of New Plays. Actors Theatre has toured to 29 cities and 15 countries worldwide, totaling more than 1,400 appearances internationally. Currently, there are more than 50 published books of plays and criticism from Actors Theatre in circulation—including anthologies of Humana Festival plays, volumes of ten-minute plays and monologues, and essays, scripts and lectures from the Brown-Forman Classics in Context Festival. Numerous plays first produced at Actors Theatre have also been published as individual acting editions, and have been printed in many other anthologies, magazines and journals—making an enduring contribution to American dramatic literature.