WSC Avant Bard has announced that Artistic Director Christopher Henley is changing his role at WSC Avant Bard. On Feb. 1, he officially left his post as the theater company’s artistic director. Henley will be succeeded by Tom Prewitt (shown), an experienced local director who’s helmed shows at WSC (including the recent Six Characters in Search of an Author), Woolly Mammoth, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre, Active Cultures, and the disbanded Theater of the First Amendment.
Henley, a founding company member who’s served as WSC Avant Bard’s artistic director for 16 years, says he plans to occasionally act and direct for the company when he can. He also says his decision has nothing to do with the troupe’s recent ejection from Artisphere; he just wants to spend more time with his husband and their young twins. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and particularly once we decided to have a family,” he says. “I didn’t want to do something that was going to intrude on parenting the way that leading a company does.” Though Henley says he deliberately delayed the announcement of his departure in order to avoid looking like he’s leaving in a huff. Artisphere’s ousting of the group in December—-a decision it attributed to budget pressures—-left the then-resident company with no stable performance space.
Now Prewitt has assumed the burden of finding a venue—-or more likely, venues—-for the company to present its forthcoming shows. He says tracking down a consistent, single performance space isn’t in the cards just yet; he’s more focused on finding suitable temporary places for individual shows. But this April’s production of Harold Pinter‘s No Man’s Land—-featuring Brian Hemmingsen and Henley himself—-will show at Arlington’s Theater on the Run, the small backup venue Arlington County helped arrange for the company.
Prewitt says one of his biggest jobs will be to find a place for Caesar and Dada, the new, Allyson Currin-penned work it’s been planning to premiere for months. Prewitt hopes a venue will be announced in the next week or two.
The new A.D. doesn’t seem completely overwhelmed by the laundry list of tasks before him; he says he’s elated. “For me, [WSC Avant Bard] has always been [a] kind of touchstone for D.C. theater just in the sense that it is so much about the classics, which are every theater person’s kind of measuring stick… and it’s so much the place that’s always been about finding new talent and nurturing new talent. I just cant say how thrilled I am, and scared and excited to be part of this and to be welcomed into this family.”