Ammerman Family Lecture September 16 Features Molly Smith

Friday, September 6, 2019
Molly Smith speaking in the Simon Theatre

Molly Smith, artistic director at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., gave the Ammerman Family Lecture at Mercersburg Academy September 16 in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre. The lecture officially kicked off the school’s 2019-2020 Monday Evening Lecture Series. 

Smith’s talk focused on activism and the arts. She has served as artistic director at Arena Stage since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits there include Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, South Pacific, and How I Learned to Drive. She most recently directed Our Town at Canada’s Shaw Festival. 

She has been a leader in new-play development for more than 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second, and third productions of new work, and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen.

Smith has worked alongside playwrights Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright, and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists.

During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions, and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Smith made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.

The Ammerman Family Lecture Series brings to the community speakers of national renown who have important perspectives on the significant issues of the day and the capacity to help young people understand the relevance of such issues to their lives. Endowed in 1999, the series was made possible through the generosity of Regent Emeritus Andrew R. Ammerman ’68 and his mother, the late Mrs. Josephine Ammerman, in memory of Andrew’s father, H. Max Ammerman, and his brother, Stephen C. Ammerman.