It may have been one of their first meetings, but it was as though Strathmore President and CEO Monica Jeffries Hazangeles and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes were old friends when the new leaders came together to discuss DC’s creative world. Hazangeles has risen through the ranks at the venue since 1994; Goyanes is formerly of NYC’s Public Theater; and they both recently took over at the iconic institutions (previously led by founders Eliot Pfanstiehl and Howard Shalwitz). Here, they steal the show.
MMG: Describe your leadership style in this new role.
MJH: The [approach] to sustaining an organization is different than establishing. ... The style of leadership needed to take it into its second life is often more collaborative, based on partnership and leverage of resources. It takes an open
heart and favors those of us
who are good listeners.
MMG: That speaks to the next generation at Woolly too.
MJH: How so?
MMG: I’m bringing a different perspective—my parents are immigrants [from the Dominican Republic and Spain]. I chose to use my middle name as soon as I had a position of power. I want to [help create] space for people of color. This has everything to do with the lens through which I’ll be picking plays. That’s not to say it will be an only Latinx season, but why not?
MJH: Wouldn’t that be cool?
MMG: I’m also interested in participatory theater—breaking boundaries. And Woolly is poised to do that.
MJH: My husband and I attend and are donors at Woolly; it is a good date night.
MMG: What’s on your must-see list?
MJH: What the Constitution Means to Me (April 1 to 28). … I was reading the description, and I had to look up the Ninth Amendment. I’m excited to see things that make me think.
MMG: Any goals this year?
MJH: Listening—it’s taught me so much already. And to ask the right questions. They lead us to innovation. So I should ask the same thing of you.
MMG: I’m thinking about strategies. … Woolly has a history of risk-taking, and I need to keep asking provocative questions [for the field].
MJH: Did you have the same experience in New York?
MMG: There’s such an array of work; that massive breadth was what was challenging about being there. Here, I can prioritize depth. I’m excited to have that rigorous interrogation into the kind of art that DC is looking for. And, I can hang out with you.
MJH: Is there anything you want to see at Strathmore?
MMG: I’m a huge Rufus Wainwright fan (Dec. 8). I can tell you every month what most excites me.