Donald T. Sanders, Executive Artistic Director
Mr. Sanders is a founder of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) and has been its executive artistic director since 1993. As executive artistic director, Sanders has brought distinguished arts events to Massachusetts. These include: in dance, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Cuba’s Ballet National de Cuba; the actors Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, Prunella Scales, Hal Holbrook, and Paul Sorvino; musicians Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, and Eddie Palmieri; theater companies Dublin’s Gate Theatre, England’s Out of Joint, Complicite, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Comedie Francaise and France’s Olivier Py and Joel Pommerat. Operas include the Netherlands’ OT Rotterdam and National Reisopera. In 2002, Sanders was made a Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Republic of France. Under his leadership, MIFA is spearheading the restoration and reopening of the historic Victory Theatre in downtown Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Mr. Sanders is a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania (President, Penn Players, Thouron Scholar), University of Bristol, England, and the Yale School of Drama, where he was assistant to Nikos Psacharapoulos and drama master of Stiles College. As a director Sanders is known for his stage adaptations from novels, direction of new plays, and classics. His professional career began at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival/ Public Theater, which presented his Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs and Old New York by Edith Wharton. New Jazz at the Public presented his 33 Scenes on the Possibility of Human Happiness and Thomas Cole, A Waking Dream, two music theater works both with scores by Henry Threadgill, and Dubrovsky, the opera by William Russo, with a libretto by Sanders. Other New York Shakespeare Festival/Joseph Papp Public Theater credits include The America Pig, an Anti-Imperialist Vaudeville, and The Owl’s Story by Ted Hughes. Off-Broadway directing and producing credits include Aesop’s Fables, a rock opera by William Russo, book by Jon Swan, and The Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill, libretto by Berthold Brecht, and new plays From the Memoirs of Pontius Pilate by Eric Bentley, The Party by Arnold Weinstein, and The Red Robins by Kenneth Koch, with sets by Roy Lichtenstein, Red Grooms and Alex Katz. In 2009 Sanders directed Stella in the Bois De Boulogne by Tara Prem and Jane Wood with Paul Sorvino and Mira Sorvino.
In New York City, Sanders is director of theatrical productions for Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC). In 2011, Sanders directed Seduction, Smoke and Music by James Melo, starring Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack at the Tuscan Sun Festival, Cortona, Italy, and his productions of Jules Verne: From The Earth to the Moon, Anna Akhmatova: The Heart Is Not Made of Stone, Van Gogh’s Ear, and The Dreyfus Affair were New York Times critic’s picks in 2015 and 2016. Mr. Sanders has received awards from the NEA, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.