Several months ago, Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, approached me with an intriguing offer: organizing and moderating a series of discussions, with theater people and topics of my choosing, onstage before an audience at her theater.

Out of that proposal has come “The Summit,” three Mondays in February, March and April, on which accomplished theater professionals will join me  at Arena to talk about their jobs, our shared passions, and the practical and philosophical issues that challenge, bedevil, invigorate and perplex the American theater. The events are open to the public and free of charge. You can read more about it, and find out how to attend, here:

I chose to populate these panels with artists who work on and around Washington’s stages. The first, on Feb. 17, will feature artistic directors. (In addition to Smith, Michael Kahn of Shakespeare Theatre Company; Ryan Rilette of Round House Theatre; Paul Tetreault of Ford’s Theatre; Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theatre and Eric Schaeffer of Signature Theatre.) The second, on March 24, will spotlight actors: Helen Carey, Richard Thomas, Tom Story, Nova Y. Payton and Kimberly Gilbert. And the third, on April 28, will showcase directors and playwrights: David Muse of Studio Theatre; playwrights Ari Roth (“Andy in the Shadows”)  Robert O’Hara (“Antebellum” and “Bootycandy”), Jacqueline Lawton (“The Hampton Years”) and Norman Allen (“Nijinsky’s Last Dance”)–all produced on DC stages–and Rachel Grossman of dogandponydc.

We’ll talk about a range of concerns, from the question of how to keep the pipeline of new plays open to what the trends portend for theatergoing in this country. We’ll attempt to answer your own questions. We’ll discuss the work of the people on the panels, what they like and don’t like about what they do–and maybe even what they think about critics. Please join us!