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March 17, 1993|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Shakeup Debated: As expected, the New York Shakespeare festival fired artistic director JoAnne Akalaitis on Monday and replaced her with playwright and director George C. Wolfe ("The Colored Museum," "Jelly's Last Jam"). But a debate has reportedly emerged between Akalaitis' critics, who pressed for the change, and her supporters, who said the action was taken prematurely. According to the New York Times, many theater professionals thought Akalaitis had a narrow artistic perspective that alienated much of the theater's once-wide audience. But others suggested on Monday that the festival's board was "flexing muscles it never had a chance to flex" under the strong leadership of the late founder Joseph Papp, and that Akalaitis, who took the post in August, 1991, after Papp personally chose her as his successor, did not have time to establish control. Meanwhile, Wolfe's first management move was to announce that actor Kevin Kline, who has appeared in four festival productions, is set to come on board as artistic associate.

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