Podcast Episode 110 – The Artistic Director of the Atlantic Theater Company, Neil Pepe

Spring AwakeningThe Lieutenant of Inishmorethis season’s (and next Broadway season’s, if the rumors are true) The Band’s Visit . . . these are just a few of the boundary-pushing titles that were born at The Atlantic Theater Company.

What I love about The Atlantic is that they do what great non-profits are supposed to do . . . do work that might not get produced otherwise . . . maybe because it deals with teen sex . . . or it’s too violent . . . whatever the reason, most folks (especially us commercial producers) would pass at first glance.  That’s when The Atlantic swoops in and shows that what we were afraid of, was something we desperately needed.

The man that does the swooping?  The superhero of an Artistic Director, Mr. Neil Pepe.  Neil has been at the helm of The Atlantic for over twenty years . . . so yeah, he’s responsible for all the picks I mentioned above, and all the rest.

In the midst of running a theater company that has garnered 12 Tony Awards, 19 Lucille Lortel Awards, 16 Obie Awards, 7 Drama Desk Awards, 6 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 3 Drama League Awards, 3 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Neil also directs on Broadway, including the infamous production of Speed-the-Plow that was stupendous, but got a case of mercury poisoning.

I grabbed Neil after a rehearsal for The Penitent, the latest Mamet play, which is premiering at The Atlantic in just a few days, and we chatted about what it’s like to run a major non-profit in the city, and . . .

  • The definition of a Director’s job . . . and an Artistic Director’s job.
  • Why he doesn’t fill one of his season’s slots on purpose.
  • The test he uses to determine if he should book a show or not.
  • How he finds new and emerging writing talent.
  • What he worries about with our current political administration.

Oh, and Neil also gives some great advice to anyone out there looking to start a theater company.  And if you are, you should listen in. You’d be lucky to establish a theater with half the rep of The Atlantic.

Click here for the link to my podcast with Mr. Pepe!

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Sorry about the sound issues in this podcast. We found the bug and fixed it in later episodes. It gets better, I promise 🙂


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.