Molly Smith to speak on 25 years of theater direction

CHESTERTOWN — Molly Smith, recently retired as artistic director of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is coming to Washington College to talk about her 25 years at one of America’s most important theaters. 

The event — at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the college’s Gibson Center for the Arts — is free and open to the public.

The college’s Department of Theatre and Dance is hosting Smith, who is expected to share stories from decades backstage as well as her trials and successes as the first woman artistic director of a major regional theater in the United States.

A leader in new play development for more than 40 years, Smith’s storied career at the Arena spans from 1998 to 2023 when she fostered the works of new American plays, playwrights and voices, producing 200 works.

In addition, she helped originate 150 works by workshops and commissions at the Arena.

Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include large-scale musicals, new plays and classics, most recently “My Body No Choice,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Celia and Fidel” and “Newsies.”

Her directorial work also has been seen around the country and Canada, including on Broadway (2014, “The Velocity of Autumn”) and off-Broadway (2018, “The Originalist”), and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979 to 1998.

Smith is known as a great champion of new work.

She led the re-invention of Arena Stage through the creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. Arena’s Power Plays Cycle will commission 25 writers over 10 years on stories of American politics and power from 1776 to the present decade.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith developed the concept for two online films, “May 22, 2020” and “The 51st State,” overseeing the production direction as well as directing pieces within the films.

She also spearheaded a variety of other new online content, including a weekly talk show titled “Molly’s Salon” during the live performance hiatus.

Any related posts will be listed here:

Skip to content