The Arena Stage Board of Trustees has announced that it has renewed the contracts of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie for five additional years with the theater. Smith joined Arena Stage in 1998 as artistic director and will continue in that role, while Dobie accepts a new title as executive producer to better reflect the role he plays at Arena Stage, which he joined as managing director in 2009.
“It is clear to all of us on the Board that in the partnership of Molly and Edgar, we have the best leadership team possible to guide the theater and assure the long-term health and success of Arena Stage," shares Board Chair David E. Shiffrin. “Their successful completion and opening of the Mead Center for American Theater was a resounding artistic and financial success. It has propelled Arena Stage forward and positioned it as a national center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater."
“Arena Stage has had a wonderful rebirth in the past few years,” says Smith. “The artists, the staff, the audiences and the board have challenged us to create more exciting work for our community. Moving into the Mead Center and beginning to explore its potential has been a particular thrill. I am inspired by the talent and support in the theater community, and I look forward to exploring the next five years with my smart and savvy leadership partner Edgar.”
“Molly and I have built a great working relationship over the past seasons,” adds Dobie. “Our partnership is fueled by her prodigious artistic ambition that informs our exciting plans for the seasons to come here at Arena. I am thrilled to have built a trust and confidence with both Molly and our Trustees and will do my best to build upon the Arena legacy that has already been so lovingly established here in Greater Washington.”
Over the past 13 seasons, Molly Smith has been instrumental in leading the re-invention of Arena Stage. From the programming for the architecture to the envisioning of the Kogod Cradle, Smith has focused her creative life on the building of this new center for American theater. This re-invention has been part of a major artistic change as well, into the production, presentation, development and study of American Theater which leads Arena into the 21st Century.
Smith has been a passionate leader in new play development for the past 30 years while at Arena Stage as well as at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska, the theater she founded and led for 19 years. She has commissioned or championed numerous world premieres, including Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive and Mineola Twins; Tim Acito’s The Women of Brewster Place; Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations; Karen Zacarías’ Legacy of Light; Marcus Gardley’s every tongue confess; Passion Play, a cycle by Sarah Ruhl; Charles Randolph-Wright’s Blue; and Zora Neale Hurston’s lost American play, Polk County; some of which she has directed. She founded Arena’s downstairs series, which has read or workshopped some 60 plays, half of which have gone on to full productions. In 2009, two shows nurtured at Arena Stage (33 Variations and Next to Normal) moved to Broadway. Smith’s directorial work has also been seen at the Shaw Festival in Canada, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, and Centaur Theatre in Montreal and includes classics such as South Pacific, Mack and Mabel, Anna Christie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Smith has served as literary advisor to Sundance Theatre Lab and formed the Arena Stage Writers Council, composed of leading American Playwrights.