By Special Release
Baltimore Center Stage
altimore Center Stage announced today that Tony Award-nominated and Obie Award winning director Stevie Walker-Webb will join the company as artistic director. Walker-Webb will assume the role Oct. 1, 2023, succeeding Interim Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin. He joins Adam Frank, BCS’s Managing Director, to form the BCS leadership team.
“From the moment I stepped into the lobby of Baltimore Center Stage, I intuitively knew that I’d found a creative home,” said Walker-Webb. “The rich history and undeniable heart of this city is unmatched. Baltimore has long been a cultural beacon, and I’m excited to use my experience and national reach to amplify what makes Baltimore so special.”
Walker-Webb continued: “This theater sits at the precise intersection of all the things that matter to me both as an artist and as a civically engaged citizen. I am honored to be leading an institution that has over 60 years of proven commitment to its community and intend to deepen that commitment by working with the Baltimore Center Stage team to bring only the most exciting and cutting-edge art to our city. This theatre belongs to all of us, and my plan is to program plays that will make Baltimore fall in love with live performance again and again.”
“Stevie is a bold and thoughtful leader, who matches artistic brilliance and delight with a history of placing art at the center of the work to build healthier communities and a better world,” said Managing Director Adam Frank. “At this critical juncture in the American theatre, his passion, energy and commitment to Baltimore make him an inspired choice for a vibrant future for BCS. I can’t wait to work with him to realize a beautiful new chapter for this amazing company.”
“Baltimore Center Stage has a long and storied history of daring and courageous leaders, from Irene Lewis and Kwame Kwei-Armah, to Stephanie Ybarra and Ken-Matt Martin. We are thrilled to pass the torch of leadership to Stevie Walker-Webb,” said Sandy Liotta, Board President of BCS. “One of Stevie’s celebrated productions at BCS was Our Town, a story of community and life that Stevie staged as a compelling ode to the city of Baltimore and all its people. Stevie understands deeply the bond between the arts and our city, and with his and Adam’s leadership, BCS will strengthen that captivating bond for many years to come. It is a great day for Baltimore as we welcome Stevie back to our theater!”
Walker-Webb is a Tony Award nominated and Obie Award winning director, playwright, cultural worker and educator. His work has been commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union and National Black Theater, and he has been produced on and off Broadway. Select productions include Ain’t No Mo’ on Broadway and at the Public Theater, Gun & Powder at Paper Mill Playhouse, One In Two at The New Group, Black Odyssey at Classic Stage, and Fairview at Woolly Mammoth. For television, he has written for the Emmy Award nominated hit comedy, The Ms. Pat Show, on BET.
Walker-Webb is also the founder of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS, an arts and advocacy organization that makes visual the suffering and inhumane treatment of incarcerated mentally ill people. He is a recipient of the Princess Grace Award for Theatre; The Lily Award, awarded by the Dramatists Guild of America; and was a 2050 Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. He is an artist and lecturer at Harvard University and is the Founding Artistic Director of the Jubilee Theatre in Waco, Texas. He has created art and theatre all over the world – in Madagascar, South Africa, Mexico, and across America.
His productions at Baltimore Center Stage include Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, R. Eric Thomas’s The Folks At Home, and, this past season, Life Is A Dream, an adaptation of Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s play by María Irene Fornés.
Baltimore Center Stage’s 2023/24 season – which kicks off September 14th with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill – was programmed by former Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra. Walker-Webb will lead this season while deepening his relationship with Baltimore and the BCS community and gaining a better sense of where the company fits within the city’s landscape, as he prepares to share his vision for the theatre commencing with the 2024/25 season.
“When I think of the future of BCS, I envision a theater where we develop new works that are commercially successful in Baltimore, but also springboard to Broadway,” said Walker-Webb. “I envision a theater for all ages and cultures, where our programs and productions are filled to bursting. I envision a theater so successful that we become the leading regional theater in the nation. I feel a deep calling to this city and Baltimore Center Stage, and I am deeply proud to now call both home. I cannot wait for what’s next.”
BCS’s 2023/24 season begins this fall with Lanie Robertson’s Tony Award nominated play about the life of Billie Holiday, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, directed by Nikkole Salter (In the Continuum) and starring Baltimore native Tanea Renee. The season continues with the ArtsCentric production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Enchanted Edition), directed by Kevin McAllister (ArtsCentric Artistic Director).
The season continues in 2024 with a world premiere co-production with Mosaic Theater Company of Mexodus, written and performed by Brian Quijada (Where Did We Sit On The Bus) and Nygel D. Robinson (The Amen Corner), directed by David Mendizábal (Notes on Killing…), and Katori Hall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, The Hot Wing King, directed by Christopher D. Betts (Dreamgirls – The Paramount Theatre) and produced in association with Hartford Stage. The season will end with a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, directed and adapted by Jenny Koons (Men on Boats at BCS).
Designated the State Theater of Maryland in 1978, Baltimore Center Stage provides the highest quality theater and programming for all members of our communities, including youth and families. Baltimore Center Stage ignites conversations and imaginations by producing an eclectic season of professional productions across two mainstages, through engaging community programs, and with inspiring education programs. Everything we do at Baltimore Center Stage is led by our core values—chief among them being access for all. Our mission is heavily rooted in providing active and open accessibility for everyone, regardless of any and all barriers, to our mainstage performances, education initiatives, and community programming.