Architect rendering of the John Drew Theater interior
It’s lights, camera, action as Nick Schwartz-Hall takes the stage as Guild Hall’s new director of performing arts. Before the curtains go up for summer, we sat down with Schwartz-Hall to hear more about his new role.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW ROLE! WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO BRING TO GUILD HALL? First and foremost, I hope to bring a lot of remarkable artists across a wide range of genres whom our community will be excited about. My intention is to build on the existing commitment to engagement with all the different communities on the East End, and I hope to connect what we do at Guild Hall with other arts institutions and practices across the country and even internationally.
WHAT DREW YOU TO GUILD HALL? For someone with my eclectic and long background in the arts, it’s almost unbelievable to arrive someplace where we get to imagine working with the fullest range of performing artists, both the more traditional and the innovative, and to program in an integrated way with the worlds of visual arts. Plus, the remarkable 92-year legacy of Guild Hall, combined with the thoughtful and committed leadership of Andrea Grover and the board and staff to be a truly interdisciplinary institution, is compelling and provides confidence that we can achieve a high level of work.
Guild Hall Director of Performing Arts Nick Schwartz-Hall.
WHAT PROGRAMS ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THIS SUMMER? I am looking forward to the reopening of our galleries and the work we will show in them, especially the first exhibition, Renee Cox: Woman of the Year, curated by Monique Long. We also have several dance residencies that will be exciting, including Hamptons Dance Project, which will once again be performing at Fireplace Lodge in East Hampton from Aug. 18 to 20. I’m also excited for the return of the Stirring the Pot culinary series with Florence Fabricant.
HOW DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR ARTISTIC LENS WILL ALTER THE THEATER? I have a lot of background as a producer, and I will be interested in adding to the mix of presentations at Guild Hall an occasional project that we will help initiate, hopefully in collaboration with other performing arts institutions.
I believe strongly in the value of sustained engagement with the communities in which I work and in being as inclusive as possible, so that is definitely a sensibility I will bring, although I do have to say knowing that value is already in the fabric of Guild Hall is part of what drew me join the team here. I will be very interested in what I can learn from becoming part of the community in the Hamptons.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING IN THE HAMPTONS ONCE YOU GET SETTLED? I love being near the ocean and cannot wait to walk regularly on the beach and occasionally go fishing. I’m excited to explore and get to know the different locales around East Hampton and become familiar with the different communities. Plus, I am an avid gardener, so I am hoping to find a little space to grow fruits and vegetables.
Guild Hall exterior design
WHAT INITIALLY MADE YOU ENTER THE THEATER WORLD? The primary person who is responsible for my getting into theater is my wife, Erica Schwartz. Although she is no longer very active in theater, for many years she was a very successful stage manager, and I rode her coattails into many exciting opportunities. I found working at that level meaningful and fully engaging and never wanted to give it up.
ANY OTHER INFORMATION WORTHY OF INCLUSION? I’m not entirely new to the Hamptons, having visited Montauk regularly during the summers when I still worked at [Brooklyn Academy of Music] for fishing trips with Karen Brooks Hopkins, former president of BAM. And also due to their connection with Bob Wilson, I have visited The Watermill Center. Well before I became involved in theater, I spent time studying painting and photography. Photography remains an interest of mine to this day. 158 Main St., East Hampton, 631.324.0806, guildhall.org
Photography by: THEATER RENDERING © PETER PENNOYER ARCHITECTS; NICK SCHWARTZ-HALL PHOTO BY OLIVIA EBERSTADT; PHOTOS © GUILD HALL, PETER PENNOYER ARCHITECTS AND HOLLANDER DESIGN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS, 2022