Molly Smith to retire from Arena Stage in 2023

Molly Smith to retire from Arena Stage in 2023

Arena Phase at the Mead Centre for American Theater has introduced that Artistic Director Molly

Arena Phase at the Mead Centre for American Theater has introduced that Artistic Director Molly Smith has decided to retire in July of 2023. The Arena Phase Board of Trustees will perform a nationwide research to appoint a new Creative Director to establish on the groundbreaking legacy of Smith and Arena’s Founder Zelda Fichandler.

Smith took the helm of this historic, internationally identified theater—the initially built-in theater in Washington, D.C.—at a time when girls inventive administrators of leading theaters have been couple and significantly amongst. For 25 a long time and less than her leadership, Arena Phase has manufactured much more than 200 productions, championing the get the job done of many emerging and set up playwrights.

Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Phase at the Mead Center for American Theater

Smith regularly infused new lifetime into traditional American musicals these types of as South PacificNearly anything Goes, and Oklahoma!, when also producing and/or generating various Broadway successes, which includes Tony Award winners Pricey Evan Hansen and Subsequent to Regular. In addition, more than 150 new performs that originated at Arena, including The Originalist and Future of Want, have been created all over the United States.

“I arrived to Washington 25 yrs ago with an crucial mandate: we needed to focus Arena on American plays, American voices, and American artists,” says Smith. “In that procedure, we mined a rich vein of talent for our stages. It was a daring shift that led to our audiences and programming getting as diverse as The united states. And I was privileged to be equipped to do it with a remarkably proficient, thoroughly committed staff who excel at bringing desires to existence.”

Smith also drove the structure and growth of The Mead Heart for American Theater—one of the most unique buildings in Washington, D.C.—as a house for all American voices, previous, existing, and foreseeable future. “With its glass walls all around all 3 theaters and soaring 65’ roof, the Mead Heart is designed for American artists, who I constantly inform to ‘hit the roof’ with their performances,” said Smith. “In point, Zelda Fichandler identified as it the 8th Surprise of the Theater Globe. Nowadays, our groundbreaking Mead Center contributes to our local community lengthy soon after the phase lights have dimmed, as it continues to generate progress on D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront.”

Smith’s theatrical innovations included showcasing American history as a result of the formidable Power Plays Initiative which, by 2024, will have commissioned 25 plays over 10 several years. Arena’s Electricity Performs consist of works by Lawrence Wright (Camp David) Eduardo Machado (Celia and Fidel) Aaron Posner (JQA) John Strand (The Originalist) Craig Lucas (Improve Agent) Kenneth Lin (Exclusion in the future 2022/23 Season) and Nathan Alan Davis (The Superior Floor, also in the upcoming 2022/23 Time).

Edgar Dobie, Arena’s Executive Producer, has labored with Smith for 13 seasons, and calls their working day-to-day balance of ambition and capability “an astounding operate for any partnership, specifically when used with an artist and government like Molly who is familiar with her heart and head, and stays a pioneer.” He proceeds, “With her talent and innate intuition for making a legacy truly worth protecting but also sharing, Molly is nothing at all shorter of spectacular.”

Decker Anstrom, Chair of Arena’s Board of Trustees, proffered a touching salute to Smith: “Molly Smith has created an indelible legacy of excellence, creativeness, inclusion, and daring management through her outstanding 25 years as Arena Stage’s Creative Director. Arena Phase, our Greater D.C. group and, without a doubt, all of American theater will be eternally the better for what she has attained.”

Born into a loved ones of actors, Smith’s early years in the theater have long considering the fact that turn out to be industry lore. Following earning her undergraduate degree at Catholic University and her graduate diploma at American University in Washington, D.C., she launched Perseverance Theatre in her hometown of Juneau, Alaska. “At the age of 19, I was crazy enough to consider I could start off theater in Alaska. At 26, we dragged 50 applied theater seats across the place and, by sheer pressure of will, Perseverance Theatre was born.”

“When I imagine about Molly Smith, these text appear to thoughts: visionary, neighborhood builder, artist, provocative, influential, feminist, activist, and leader,” stated Tony Award-profitable playwright, performer, activist, and artist Eve Ensler. “Arena Phase is a design for American theater in the way it supports writers, actors, and artists and sustained working associations with them over time. She has constructed a outstanding community in Washington, D.C. by her bold strategies, diverse programming, and awe-inspiring threats. She imagined a grand new constructing and the Mead Centre for American Theater was born. She will be sorely missed!”

“Molly Smith literally changed my life and the lives of so several other people with her fantastic assistance, impeccable wisdom, infectious laughter, and real joy,” said theater, tv and movie artist Charles Randolph-Wright, recipient of Arena’s 2022 “American Artist” Award, and co-creator of Arena’s approaching entire world-premiere musical American Prophet, which will kick off its 2022/23 time. “Her affect is world, her loyalty is unwavering, and her coronary heart belongs in the Smithsonian for the adore she definitely has given the entire world with her exemplary artistry.”

Randolph-Wright continued, “The previous two years have witnessed a a great deal-wanted reckoning and ideally a seismic change culturally, but Molly has been at the forefront of inclusion her entire time at Arena and ahead of. She has always demanded varied, intriguing, difficult, and vital work, specially American function and voices and, in accomplishing so, she helmed a revolution. She forced us all to develop into braver and much better artists. Thank you for seeing, listening to, and loving us, Molly!”

A longtime citizen activist, Smith’s deep determination to the local community has touched more than a quarter of a million lives through resourceful programming, together with the Voices of Now Competition for young artists, and Camp Arena Phase. “Even throughout COVID-19, we ongoing to innovate, generating 5 films. These included Could 22, 2020, a time capsule of D.C. throughout a day in lifestyle of 10 men and women during COVID [sic], and The 51st Point out, a film about the Black Life Issue uprising in D.C. and a conversation about D.C. statehood.”

Smith’s numerous accolades and honors consist of getting a Resourceful Advisor to the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab multiple occasions concerning 1999 and 2004 named to American University’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2003 named “Washingtonian of the Year” in 2011 and awarded Director of Difference by The Academy of Arts, Cairo, Egypt, in November 2019. She made her Broadway debut in 2014 with The Velocity of Autumn, exactly where Estelle Parsons was nominated for a Tony Award.

Smith gained the Governor’s Award for the Arts from the Alaska Point out Legislature in 1998 and was inducted into the Washington, D.C., Hall of Fame Modern society in 2018. She holds honorary doctorates from the two American and Towson Universities. In addition to her quite a few inventive accomplishments, Smith and her spouse Suzanne Blue Star Boy, along with a group of Facebook good friends, arranged the March on Washington for Gun Control immediately after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Check out a video statement from Molly Smith on her selection to retire following her 25th Arena Phase period right here.

Read Molly Smith’s directing credits at Arena Stage right here.

The Mead Middle for American Theater

Arena Phase at the Mead Heart for American Theater, under the management of Creative Director Molly Smith and Government Producer Edgar Dobie, is a nationwide middle committed to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces performs of all that is passionate, profound, deep and hazardous in the American spirit, and offers diverse and groundbreaking work from some of the best artists around the region. Arena Phase is dedicated to commissioning and acquiring new performs and impacting the lives of above 10,000 pupils annually by its get the job done in neighborhood engagement. Now in its eighth 10 years, Arena Stage serves a assorted once-a-year audience of much more than 300,000.