PRINCETON — Festival 56 has announced Princeton native and longtime festival volunteer and stage manager, Zach Fiste, is joining the staff as the festival’s production manager. In June, Festival 56, Illinois’ largest summer theatre festival, will launch its 10th anniversary season in Princeton.
In professional theatre, the production manager is responsible for overseeing the nuts and bolts of bringing each show to the stage, so that the artistic director can concentrate on the design and aesthetics of the production.
Fiste started with Festival 56 as a high school volunteer in 2004 and worked as a carpenter each summer until he left for college in 2008. He returned to the festival in 2011 after studying stage management at Webster University and has been a seasonal stage manager with the company since. In 2012, he was the first recipient of the Zearing-Phillips Award that recognizes outstanding contributions to Festival 56.
“When we started to look for someone who really understood the festival’s philosophy, pace and quirks, who could work closely with Dexter, Zach was the natural choice. He loves Princeton and he loves the festival,” said Maureen Droessler, president of the Princeton Theatre Group.
The addition of Fiste to the festival’s staff will allow Artistic Director Dexter Brigham to take on some new projects as well. While continuing his work to grow and develop the festival, Brigham will add a new title to his list of accomplishments. In April, he will begin splitting his time during the non-summer months between Princeton and Midland, Mich., where he will be the managing director of Centerstage Theatre and Choirs at the Midland Center for the Arts. During the summer months, Brigham will be in Princeton full-time directing the Festival 56 summer season.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to work with Zach on the Festival 56 10th season, and for such a wonderful organization as MCFTA to welcome me on board,” said Brigham. “I feel like my life just got twice as great. Festival 56 is a bedrock commitment in my life that will never go away. I look forward to many, many years living and working in Princeton.”