Donald T. Sanders
Executive Artistic Director
Mr. Sanders is the 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, The Ballet National de Cuba, and Compagnie Kafig; the actors Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, Prunella Scales, Hal Holbrook and Paul Sorvino; musicians Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, and Eddie Palmieri; theater companies such as Ireland’s Gate Theatre, England’s Out of Joint, Complicite and Shakespeare’s Globe and from France The Comedie Francaise, 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 of 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 adapted from William S. Burroughs and Old New York from Edith Wharton. New Jazz at the Public presented his 33 Scenes on the Possibility of Human Happiness and Thomas Cole, A Waking Dream, two new music theater works with scores by Henry Threadgill, and Dubrovsky, an opera by William Russo, with 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, 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.
Sanders is director of theatrical productions for the New York City based Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC). For ERC In 2011, Sanders directed Seduction, Smoke and Music starring Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack at the Tuscan Sun Festival, Cortona, Italy. His direction of ERC productions, Jules Verne: From The Earth to the Moon; Anna Akhmatova: The Heart Is Not Made of Stone; The Dreyfus Affair and Van Gogh’s Ear were New York Times critic’s picks in 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2020 Sanders directed the radio drama version of Akhmatova: The Heart is Not Made of Stone starring Vanessa Redgrave and Paul Hilton for 2021 release.
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.