Joseph Haj is the eighth artistic director of the Guthrie Theater. Within a year of his arrival, he announced the three-year Level Nine Initiative supported by a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This initiative emphasized the creation of theater that wrestles with urgent questions, inspires dynamic dialogue, and deeply engages the community. Haj has directed several productions at the Guthrie, including his own adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Romeo and Juliet, Sunday in the Park With George, King Lear, South Pacific, Pericles and West Side Story, which was the highest-grossing production in Guthrie history.
Prior to joining the Guthrie in 2015, Haj was the producing artistic director at PlayMakers Repertory Company where he presented the world premiere of Surviving Twin by Loudon Wainwright III, Mike Daisey’s The Story of the Gun, UNIVERSES’ Spring Training and The Parchman Hour by Mike Wiley. While at PlayMakers, Haj also directed The Tempest, Metamorphoses, Cabaret, Henry IV (Parts I and II), Henry V, Nicholas Nickleby, The Illusion, Amadeus, Pericles, Big River, As You Like It, Cyrano de Bergerac (Haj’s adaptation) and Into the Woods.
Other directing projects include Hamlet at the Folger Theatre (Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Production), Henry V at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pericles at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (also the Folger and the Guthrie) as well as directing maximum-security inmates in a production of Henry V, creating and directing Voices with the rural community of Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, and conducting workshops in the West Bank and Gaza.
Haj received an M.F.A. from The University of North Carolina before beginning a career in acting and working with many internationally known directors, including Garland Wright, JoAnne Akalaitis, Anne Bogart (as an original member of SITI Company), Peter Sellars, Sir Peter Hall and Robert Woodruff. He has been named one of 25 theater artists who will have a significant impact on the field over the next quarter-century by American Theatre magazine and is the recipient of the 2014 Zelda Fichandler Award (SDCF) and 2017 Rosetta LeNoire Award (AEA) as well as the NEA/White House Council Millennium Grant awarded to 50 of America’s finest artists. He currently serves on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and is a member of Directors Circle International.