Arena Stage's major players, offstage

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MOLLY SMITH As Arena Stage's artistic director for 12 seasons, Smith has attempted to put her stamp on the company with a concentration on American plays and musicals. Formerly the head of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, Smith is a director as well as an administrator; her production of "Oklahoma!" will reopen Arena's streamlined Fichandler space on Oct. 23.

ZELDA FICHANDLER Arena's co-founder and a recognized pioneer of the national regional theater movement, Fichandler ran the company for four decades, until she stepped down in 1991 to become chair of the graduate acting program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, a post she held until recently. As a life member of the board of trustees and guiding force for the theater, she has remained an active voice in Arena's transformation.

DAVID DOWER As associate artistic director at Arena, Dower is the in-house specialist for new play development and heads up a variety of initiatives aimed at helping playwrights create work for the company. That includes an innovative project that is giving five dramatists salaries and benefits for three years, as they develop new plays or rework old ones for production by Arena. Dower came to Arena in 2006 after 13 years at San Francisco's Z Space Studio, where he directed more than 20 world-premiere pieces.

EDGAR DOBIE The managing director of Arena Stage had a career in both the commercial and nonprofit worlds of theater before joining Arena to run its business side in 2009. For several years, he was executive director of Providence's Trinity Repertory Company, serving there with artistic director Oskar Eustis, who would go on to run the Joseph Papp Public Theater in Manhattan. Prior to that, he worked for six years as the New York-based president of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company.

MARK SHUGOLL The chairman of Shugoll Research, a Bethesda-based market research firm, Shugoll had been on the Arena board for several years when he took over as its chairman in 2006. A lifelong theater addict, he has a special expertise in the areas of sports and entertainment market research and an interest in arts education as well. His popular ArtSpeak! program has brought a score of Broadway musical actors into schools in Northern Virginia to perform and talk about their craft.

-- Peter Marks

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