Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith announced on Friday that she will retire.
She said in a statement that she’ll guide the company through one more season, her 25th: Smith’s retirement is effective July 2023.
“This decision has been very difficult, because this has been a dream job for me,” Smith said in the statement. “I’ve loved being artistic director of one of the greatest theaters in the country.”
She added that “Before I came to Arena, I went around the world twice and it’s time to go again. I want to spend more real time with family and friends and perhaps direct a project or two. I realized the other day that I’ve been working steadily for over 50 years and it’s time to live life differently.”
Arena’s executive producer, Edgar Dobie, has worked with Smith for 13 years, and in a statement from the theater called that time “an amazing run for any partnership, especially when spent with an artist and executive like Molly who knows her heart and mind, and remains a pioneer.”
Decker Angstrom, the chair of Arena’s board of trustees, added, “Arena Stage, our Greater D.C. community and, indeed, all of American theater will be forever the better for what she has accomplished.”
Smith, a graduate of Catholic University and American University, grew up in Juneau, Alaska, where she started the Perseverance Theatre.
“Arena Stage and you will always be a part of my life,” Smith said. “I’ve been here for a third of Arena’s life and a third of my own life. This wonderful theater is in my blood, in my bones and in my heart.”