July 26, 2023

The Board of Directors of SpeakEasy Stage, the award-winning, non-profit theatre company in residence at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, today announces an important expansion of its senior leadership and governance:

Following an extensive national search, SpeakEasy Stage is appointing David Beardsley, an experienced non-profit executive, to serve as the company’s inaugural Executive Director.

For over thirty years, SpeakEasy has been led by founder and Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault. In recent years, Daigneault and the Board of Directors have envisioned SpeakEasy’s impactful future, which will include a focus on efficient and innovative business operations, an amplified community engagement effort, and a diversified philanthropic effort. Recognizing that both the artistic and managerial roles have increased in scope and complexity as the company has evolved, Mr. Daigneault and the Board designed the inaugural executive director role to support SpeakEasy’s next stage of growth and evolution.

Beginning July 31, 2023, Mr. Beardsley, who most recently served as Chief of Marketing and Audience Engagement for The Trustees of Reservations, will manage the organization in partnership with Mr. Daigneault, who will now serve solely as the company’s Artistic Director. 

“I am thrilled to be joining the immensely talented team at SpeakEasy, which is producing some of the most exciting theatre in New England and introducing Boston audiences to the most important and entertaining plays and musicals of our time,” said Beardsley. “I find SpeakEasy’s commitments to equity, inclusion, and belonging, and to working with local talent, especially compelling, and I am honored to be given a chance to contribute to such urgent work.”

Said Mr. Daigneault, “We are so thrilled to welcome David to SpeakEasy, and are excited for this next chapter in the company’s history. We look forward to drawing on David’s extraordinary managerial skills, vision, and passion for theatre to help lead SpeakEasy into this new period of growth.” 

At The Trustees of Reservations, a conservation organization that ranks as one of Massachusetts’ largest non-profits, Mr. Beardsley oversaw Marketing, Membership, Public Programs and Events, and Visitor Experience.  Previously, he served as The Trustees’ Director of Enterprise, providing strategic direction and management for the organization while helping to generate $6-$8 million annually in support of program and mission.  From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Beardsley also served as the Executive Director of Boston’s Hill House, where he provided strategic vision, managed key partnerships, and directed fundraising, marketing, communications, finance, and operations for a community center offering extensive youth programming.

In support of the company’s new executive leader, Constance Gist Guindo has been elected to serve as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, ushering in a new era of joint Board leadership. An active member and leader on SpeakEasy’s Board of Directors for the past two years, Ms. Gist Guindo will join incumbent Board Chair Andrew Fullem.

“This new structure will allow the Board to provide in-depth support to the staff as it manages change and focuses on SpeakEasy’s future,” said Ms. Gist Guindo. “David’s background in marketing and audience development, combined with Paul’s experience and artistic vision, will provide SpeakEasy with the strategic leadership needed for continued growth and impact.”

Ms. Gist Guindo will work closely with the new Executive Director and the Board’s Finance and Development Committees, while Mr. Fullem prioritizes time with the Artistic Director and the Board’s Nominating and Community Engagement Committees.

“These are critical investments in SpeakEasy’s future,” said Mr. Fullem. “They will provide us with focused strategic leadership and the resources to test new models and approaches that will ensure SpeakEasy’s strength for years to come.”

In 1992, SpeakEasy Stage was born with a simple idea – to give emerging local artists an opportunity to hone their craft while building a thriving theatre scene in Boston. From its humble 40-seat beginnings to its 200+ intimate black box spaces at the Calderwood Pavilion, it has grown into a leading voice in Boston’s thriving theatre ecosystem. SpeakEasy’s driving force – which lies at the heart of its programming, administration, and Board leadership – is its unrivaled commitment to boldness.

Driven by a relentless calling to leverage the transformative power of theatre to connect us with ourselves and each other, it produces – and supports the development of – vital, timely stories that unearth the myriad of experiences, identities, and journeys that make us human. Its five-production mainstage season of contemporary plays and musicals and suite of curated community programs entertain us while being relevant and thought-provoking.

This historic expansion of its leadership comes at the launch of SpeakEasy’s exciting 33rd Season, which includes the Boston premieres of The Band’s Visit (a co-production with The Huntington); A Strange Loop (a co-production with the Front Porch Arts Collective); and POTUS; Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

The national search was led by Syrah Gunning, Director, Executive Development and Brett Egan, President of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, a leading provider of arts management services, training, and thought leadership for arts, cultural, and educational sectors worldwide.

In closing, Beardsley reflected, “Live theatre is being reshaped in ways that require innovation and bold action. Paul and the Board are leaning into this challenge in ways that make me excited for SpeakEasy’s future. I look forward to partnering with local and regional theatre leaders to reengage theatre lovers and welcome new audiences.”

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