MacArthur Fellows Program

David Cromer

Theater Director | Class of 2010

Reinvigorating classic American plays with a spirit and urgency that eschews nostalgia and provides audiences with unexpectedly fresh and compelling theatrical experiences.

Theater Director
New York, New York
45 at time of award
Area of Focus
Theatrical Arts
Published September 28, 2010

About David's Work

David Cromer is a theater director and actor who is reinvigorating classic American plays and illuminating their relationship to the present. His incisive interpretations of the twentieth-century repertoire honor the original intention of each work while providing audiences with more psychologically complex performances than previous renderings. Eschewing nostalgia and period kitsch, Cromer reveals the dark truth and unexpected humor in William Inge’s Picnic, while his meticulous attention to the expressive power of simple objects transforms a musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine into a compelling portrait of a desperate office worker that reflects our time. Every element of his production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town—from set design, to costumes, to music, to the choice of actors—converges into a cohesive whole that evokes an immediate and powerful experience for viewers. Performing the role of the Stage Manager himself, Cromer adopts modern dress and a conversational tone and is simultaneously the omniscient, efficient director and a character in the play. The minimalist aesthetic of the production and his portrayal of the Stage Manager avoid the sentimentality characteristic of other versions of Our Town and, at the same time, increase the emotional force of the play’s exhortation to live in the present moment. From venues in Chicago to the theaters of New York, Cromer is re-staging earlier plays with a spirit and urgency that resonates with contemporary audiences.


David Cromer attended Columbia College, Chicago. He has directed and acted in plays presented at venues throughout the United States, including the Barrow Street Theatre (New York), Alley Theatre (Houston), Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago), and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among many others.

Select News Coverage of David Cromer
December 16, 2015
"David Cromer to Stage 'The Effect' at Barrow Street Theatre"
Chicago Tribune
David Cromer, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
October 18, 2014
"Our Town, Almeida Theatre"
The Arts Desk
David Cromer, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
September 5, 2014
"Director's Cuts: David Cromer on 'Our Town'"
KCUR Kansas City
David Cromer, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
November 11, 2013
"Timeline's The Normal Heart Proves a Sobering, Searing Reminder"
The Huffington Post
David Cromer, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
View all news

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Please credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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