After founding and then serving for more than three decades as its Artistic Director, Paul
Daigneault will step down from his leadership role at SpeakEasy Stage Company on June 30, 2025, SpeakEasy Board Co-Chairs Andrew Fullem and Constance Gist Guindo announced today. The DeVos Institute will soon begin a national search for Mr. Daigneault’s successor.

“Paul Daigneault leaves an indelible mark on this city as an artist, pioneer, educator, mentor, and BostonTheatre champion,” said Fullem. “He has established a legacy of exceptional storytelling and community building that SpeakEasy will continue to embrace and foster in the years to come.”

Added Gist Guindo, “Paul has also dedicated himself to training the next generation of theatre artists and making Boston a sustainable home for local talent to live and work. In addition, he has been an early adopter and outspoken advocate for wide-ranging diversity in all aspects of Boston theatre and beyond.”

Born in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and raised in Sandwich, Paul studied theatre at Boston College before moving to New York City. As a young artist, he found himself unable to advance, as no one was willing to hire him without first seeing his work, and no one was willing to take a chance on an untested director. Before long, Paul realized he would have to create his own opportunities, so he moved back home to Boston to pursue his dream of starting a theatre company. With a few friends from Boston College, Paul founded SpeakEasy Stage Company in the winter of 1992. 

Under Daigneault’s artistic leadership, SpeakEasy Stage has produced over 160 theater productions, including 6 world premieres and over 60 musicals. The company’s work has reliably been among the city’s best, frequently taking home top honors at Boston’s annual theatre awards. Critics have praised SpeakEasy not only for the company’s high production values, but also for its commitment to local artists and to works that center community, equality, and social justice.

“My decision to step down comes after careful consideration and planning,” said Daigneault, “and I am proud that I will be leaving SpeakEasy in a position of strength and vitality. The board and I have made significant strides toward ensuring SpeakEasy’s future, including bringing on David Beardsley last July as our first-ever Executive Director. David has strengthened SpeakEasy’s foundation, preparing for a future filled with bold and impactful theatre. And, as the company begins its search for a new artistic leader, I am confident they will find someone who brings their own artistic vision, but shares SpeakEasy’s values and principles.”

“It has been a privilege to work with and learn from one of this city’s premier directors and producers,” said SpeakEasy Executive Director David Beardsley. “In his 30-plus years with SpeakEasy, Paul has built an incredibly strong institution, and the work we will all do over the coming year preparing for this transition will ensure that SpeakEasy remains Boston’s home for bold theatre for decades to come.”

Following his time at SpeakEasy, Paul will relocate to Connecticut, where his husband – the Right Reverend Jeffrey W. Mello — serves as the state’s Episcopal Bishop. They have one son, Ardani.

Paul plans to continue directing, teaching, and visiting all 63 US National Parks.

Paul Daigneault, the Founder and Artistic Director of SpeakEasy Stage Company, has focused his career on creating opportunities and telling stories.  
First, in response to his own experience, Paul made it an essential part of his life’s work to provide opportunities for young artists, whether they dream of being actors, directors, designers, playwrights, administrators, or crew.  “I take pride in the fact that my shows, and SpeakEasy in general, are places where theatre artists can stretch and grow their talents.”

As part of his commitment to nurturing the next generation of theatre artists, Paul has taught musical theatre and directing for years at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.  As he does in the rehearsal room, Paul works hard to make the classroom a brave space for creative exploration, challenge, and growth, where each individual can develop their artistic voice and do their best work.

One of the lessons that Paul shares with his students is to choose work that resonates deep within them, a show that they must stage and share with others. That principle has guided Paul’s own career, making SpeakEasy a place where the Boston audiences can enjoy and be challenged by high-quality productions that spark conversation and tackle important issues.  

As a gay man, Paul has had a particular affinity for bringing stories of his community to the stage, including plays about AIDS (Jeffrey; Love! Valour! Compassion!; Mothers and Sons), equality (Some Men), gay history (The View UpStairs, The Inheritance), coming out (Fun Home), and isolation (Take Me Out, Significant Other).  

In addition, SpeakEasy has won awards for producing plays about equity and anti-racism (The Scottsboro Boys; Caroline, or Change; Allegiance; The Color Purple); anti-Semitism (Parade); neurodivisity (Body Awareness, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime), mental illness (Next to Normal) and more.  “I’m proud that my directing work quickly evolved to ask big questions about social justice,” Paul has observed. “I gravitate toward telling stories about those whom society has traditionally marginalized, and doing so authentically with humor, heart, and inspired stagecraft.”  

Another important dimension of Paul’s work has been his commitment to the contemporary musical.  Paul has brought one or two musicals to Boston each season, shows as varied as In the Heights, A Strange Loop, The Band’s Visit, Violet, Passion, and A New Brain.  His 2001 production of Bat Boy: The Musical, for example, ran for over 100 performances, earned SpeakEasy its first major awards and established Paul as a major artist in the Boston Theatre Community.  “I always gravitate toward musicals that entertain yet have huge amounts of hurt and heart,” Daigneault notes.  “In addition, I enjoy ‘right-sizing’ shows to bring out the beauty that can sometimes be compromised in larger, commercial stagings.”

Finally, Paul has dedicated a big part of his work to maintaining the vibrancy and viability of the local theatre scene.  He strives to direct and produce local and regional premieres, and is committed to hiring, training, and developing theatre artists who make the Boston-area their home. 

For his talent and efforts, Daigneault was awarded the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence in 2014, the highest honor bestowed on Boston Theatre artists.  He has also received three Norton Awards for directing, including the 2024 Outstanding Director Award for his work on The Band’s Visit.

In addition, on May 6 of this year, Paul also received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Salem State University’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

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