Prewitt, who directed WSC’s recent production of “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” is a self-proclaimed longtime WSC fan. Henley will stay on as artistic director emeritus, directing one show a year, and as a member of the acting company.
When you’re the artistic director of a small company like WSC, said Henley, “you’ve got to just keep doing everything or you’re going to miss an opportunity and let people down. It was getting to the point, about a year ago, where I was just feeling that I never wanted to not be there for my family because I had obligations elsewhere.”
An artistic director “has to spend so much more time marketing and [doing] that kind of non-artistic activity. . . . I’ve just reached a point after doing it for over 16 years, the administrative managerial stuff just becomes more and more wearying and less enticing, so I was ready for a change.”
The passing of the baton has been “incredibly amicable,” Prewitt said. “It’s sort of the ideal situation to be coming into, in that respect.” That being said, “there’s no point in making a change unless there’s going to be a change. I’m hoping to bring new ideas and a fresh energy to the table.”
Prewitt added that he has “a real passion for planning, for sort of saying, ‘Okay, this is where we are now, and this is where we need or want to be, and how do we get from here to there?’ ”
Henley said WSC didn’t consider anyone but Prewitt for the job. Henley said he acknowledges that letting go of a gig he’s had for almost two decades won’t be easy. He’s hoping to “just find that right balance of being helpful without crossing the line and back-seat driving or being intrusive. It won’t be the easiest balance to strike, but who knows? Maybe it will be. So far it’s been a relatively easy fit.”
WSC was a resident theater company at Arlington County’s Artisphere for two years until December, when a change in the Artisphere’s business model left WSC in the market for a new place to perform.
This search for a space is arguably Prewitt’s biggest and most urgent challenge. Prewitt said locations in the District and Arlington are on the table, including the new Anacostia Playhouse. “We have looked at that space because, who wouldn’t?” he said. “It’s the perfect size, the location is terrific [and] accessible.” WSC is also looking at universities around the area and places such as the Atlas “that offer an intimate feel,” he said.
“On a more conceptual or visionary level,” Prewitt said, “the question is really not so much about finding a space as it is about deciding what kind of space or spaces we need and want moving forward. . . . Basically saying, what kind of theater do we want to be and, therefore, where do we want to be performing?”