John C. Stark became the Artistic Director of the Festival in August of 2017. Stark has worked extensively at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, where he has produced 33 designs since 1993, including 20 from the Bard’s canon. He has designed professionally for Chicago theatre companies such as Victory Gardens, Drury Lane Theatre, The Next Theatre, and Famous Door Theatre, where his design of The Living won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Scenic Design in 1997. Regional credits include work at Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Garden Theatre (Winter Garden, FL), and Pennsylvania Center Stage.
Stark’s 2012 design for the production Falling , which originated at the Mustard Seed Theatre in St. Louis, was produced Off Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre that year. It received three Drama Desk Award nominations in 2013. His design of Way to Heaven at the New Jewish Theatre was nominated for a St. Louis Theatre Circle Award in 2013.
Stark is a member of the United Scenic Artists-829 and a Professor of Design in the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University. He is a native of Nebraska and received his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
For the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Robert has directed A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, RICHARD II, and MACBETH. He is also a member of the 8-Person Artistic Collective at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, where he has directed HENRY IV (PART ONE), HAMLET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and RICHARD III. Other directing credits include productions with Taproot Theatre (Seattle), Fire Exit Theatre (Calgary), Fifth House Ensemble (Chicago), Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore), and First Stage Children’s Theatre (Milwaukee). Robert is the Head of the MFA Directing Program at Illinois State University, having previously headed the Directing Program at Purdue University. For three seasons, he was the Associate Artistic Director and Casting Director for the Milwaukee Shakespeare Company. He is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Janet Wilson is also the Director of the School of Theatre and Dance. Prior to joining the acting faculty at Illinois State University in 2001, she was a professional actor in New York City where she worked on stage, television, and film and earned membership in the professional talent unions. After a move to Richmond, VA, she was a Founding member, Co-Artistic Director, and Director of Education for the Firehouse Theatre Project, a professional theatre in Richmond where she produced and directed numerous productions. While earning her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University, she developed a research interest in contemporary women playwrights. She has directed over 35 productions and is a published and produced playwright.
In February 2017, Janet was invited to serve as the lead facilitator for the University Resident Theatre Association (URTA) on their contract negotiation with Actors’ Equity Association in New York City. For the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), Janet has served as facilitator and/or presenter for the NAST Pre-Meeting Workshop for new Theatre Administrators in 2016 – 2018 and as a member of the NAST Committee on Ethics
Elena Hansen joined the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and the ISU School of Theatre and Dance as the Production Manager in 2017. She has worked and travelled all over the world and is happy to make Bloomington-Normal home. She holds an M.F.A. in Stage Management from University of Cincinnati’s College - Conservatory of Music (CCM) and a B.A. in Theatre Design/Production from Louisiana State University. Elena is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Nick Benson joined the Illinois Shakespeare Festival team in September of 2017 in the role of Box Office Manager. Nick brings a unique background to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business from Illinois State University and a MBA specializing in Marketing from Loyola University Chicago. His previous experience includes serving as the Box Office Manager at both Broadway In Chicago and Theatre Council Productions (TCP). Nick is excited to be a part of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and looks forward to assisting all of the patrons with their ticketing needs.
Jean M. K. Miller assumed the position of dean of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University July 1, 2015. Miller previously served as the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Prior to her time at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Miller served as associate dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design at the University of North Texas. She has held department chair positions at Towson University and Marshall University and faculty positions at East Tennessee State University. Miller received her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from California College of the Arts. "Jean M. K. Miller has a proven track record as an outstanding educator, scholar, artist and leader," said Illinois State University Provost Janet Krejci. "The College of Fine Arts will certainly benefit from her passion for the arts and her leadership experience.