Washington Post's Peter Marks to Host Arena Stage's Summit Series of Panels

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces a rare opportunity for D.C.-area theatergoers to hear groups of distinguished actors, directors, playwrights and artistic directors discuss their work and the myriad challenges facing their art form, in a special series of three Monday evening panels entitled The Summit. Organized and moderated by The Washington Post Theater Critic Peter Marks, the three free installments will gather some of the region's most accomplished theater professionals to talk about everything from their passion for their craft to the problems of trying to lure new audiences to live theater.

Marks was approached last year by Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith with the idea of creating a series of evenings aimed at airing issues of particular concern to the American theater and its playgoers, in a convivial forum. "Out of Peter's own writing and through conversations with him it became clear that Washington is the perfect place to host in-depth discussions about the big issues we all face as a theater community," Smith shared.

"Nothing is more stimulating to me than conversations with smart theater people, and this feels like a great moment to talk about where Washington stands as a theater town," Marks added.

Joining Marks for the first edition of The Summit, Monday, February 17, will be some of the region's leading artistic directors. Along with Smith, participants will include Michael Kahn of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ryan Rilette of Round House Theatre, Eric Schaeffer of Signature Theatre, Paul R. Tetreault of Ford's Theatre and Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theater.

Monday, March 24, The Summit will focus on actors. Gathering in the Kogod Cradle will be veteran stage, film and TV actress Helen Carey; Shakespeare and Studio Theatre stalwart Tom Story; Woolly Mammoth company member Kimberly Gilbert; Signature Theatre sensation Nova Y. Payton, who will be starring in Arena Stage's upcoming Smokey Joe's Café; and theater and TV star Richard Thomas.

For the final installment, Monday, April 28, The Summit will turn to playwrights and directors. The panel that evening will include Rachel Grossman, ringleader of the District's innovative audience participation troupe, dog & pony dc; David Muse, Studio Theatre artistic director and director of Tribes; frequent Woolly Mammoth director/playwright Robert O'Hara (Antebellum and Bootycandy); Ari Roth, Theater J artistic director and author of last season's Andy in The Shadows; and D.C.-area playwrights and members of Arena Stage's inaugural Playwrights' Arena collaborative writing group Norman Allen (Nijinsky's Last Dance) and Jacqueline E. Lawton (The Hampton Years).

Peter Marks is the theater critic for The Washington Post. Prior to joining The Post in 2002, he worked for a decade at The New York Times, where he served as the Off-Broadway drama critic. At The Times, he also worked as a theater reporter and covered the national news media in the 2000 presidential campaign. He previously was a reporter for the Bergen Record and Newsday, where he was on a team of reporters that shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a New York subway accident. A graduate of Yale, he has also taught in the theater department and the honors program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Follow him on twitter @petermarksdrama.

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