Hailed in the press as a “wunderkind with a midas touch,” Ethan McSweeny made his break out debut with the New York premiere of John Logan’s Leopold and Loeb thriller NEVER THE SINNER receiving multiple Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards and nominations. That debut was followed by the 2000 Broadway revival Gore Vidal’s THE BEST MAN (Tony award nomination, Drama Desk & Outer Critic Circle Awards) and the off- Broadway premiere’s of Kate Fodor’s poignant 100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW and Jason Grote’s time-bending 1001, both of which, in a rare single-season double, were named to the Top Ten lists of TimeOut and Entertainment Weekly magazines.
A veteran of more than 75 productions of new plays, revivals, classics, and musicals, McSweeny has directed on most of the preeminent stages in the United States including The Guthrie, The Goodman, The Old Globe, the Arena, the Alley, the Denver Center, South Coast Rep, Pittsburgh Public, George Street Playhouse and The Shakespeare Theatre among many others.
Internationally, McSweeny has spent two seasons at the celebrated Stratford Festival in Canada where he directed Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. For the Gate theatre in Dublin he directed an acclaimed revival of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Lia Williams, which was recognized with multiple Irish Times Awards including Best Director. This season he returned to the Gate with AN IDEAL HUSBAND and was honored to be the first American director invited to stage a classic of the Anglo-Irish canon for the company. A student of the classics, in addition to more than 20 world premiere productions, McSweeny has directed important revivals of Shakespeare, Shaw, Miller, Williams, Wilde, Chekhov, Albee, Pinter, Euripides, and Aeschylus. His work has been recognized with multiple Helen Hayes, Jefferson, Barrymore, San Diego Critics Circle, Ovation, OCIE, Star-Tribune, and “Best Of” nominations, awards, and citations.
McSweeny’s recent stage directing includes the Broadway premiere of John Grisham’s A TIME TO KILL, revivals of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHIING, and MERCHANT OF VENICE in Washington, DC, Hampton’s TALES FROM HOLLYWOOD for the Guthrie, the world premieres of Fodor’s RX in New York and Regina Taylor’s TRINITY RIVER PLAYS in Chicago.
Committed to the development of new work and new artists, McSweeny was the co-artistic director of the Chautauqua Theatre Company from 2004-2011, a summer theatre on the grounds of the renowned Chautauqua Institution that under his leadership built a national reputation for the cultivation of the finest emerging theatre artists in the country and the development of exciting and relevant new work for the stage. A proud member of SDC, the union of Stage Director’s and Choreographers, he has served on the Executive Board of that organization since 2005 and as Treasurer since 2011. Originally from Washington, DC, McSweeny received the first degree in Theatre and Dramatic Arts ever conferred by Columbia University.