Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Human Race Theatre Mourns Loss of Artistic Director Marsha Hanna Today, 1/3


Marsha Hanna, Artistic Director of The Human Race Theatre Company of Dayton, died today from complications from esophageal cancer. She was 59.

Ms. Hanna had been associated with The Human Race, Dayton's professional producing theatre company, since its inception in 1986, and the company's Artistic Director since 1990. An accomplished actress, she preferred to be behind the scenes. She produced more than 100 plays for the theatre and directed dozens for The Human Race, for local colleges, and for theatres in the Midwest. Her work included such distinguished productions as ANGELS IN AMERICA: Parts I and II and Copenhagen.

Ms. Hanna and Human Race Executive Director Kevin Moore received the 2010 Ohio Governor's Award for Arts Administration. They were cited for growing the company into an organization with a "wide range of community partnerships and stellar educational programs," one where "the joy of making theatre is apparent."

The Tiffin native's association with Moore and Human Race Resident Artist Scott Stoney goes back to their student days at Bowling Green in the 1970s. In 1978, the three formed Dayton's Illumination Theatre, which folded its resources into The Human Race in 1986. Prior to becoming the Human Race Artistic Director, Ms. Hanna served as drama specialist with the City of Dayton Recreation Department, which at the time ran the Dayton Playhouse.

"She has changed the face of theatre in this city," says Moore. "She has been a friend and a mentor and an artistic compatriot."

Ms. Hanna has also taught classes at numerous local colleges, and she was particularly active in establishing cooperative programs with other arts organizations, most recently with acclaimed productions of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY with Wright State University Theatre and BROTHER WOLF with Rhythm in Shoes. She worked annually on The Human Race's Theatre in Context collaboration with The Muse Machine.

Ms. Hanna will always be associated with Moore and Stoney. "The three of us have been called the triumvirate for a long time," says Stoney, "And that's over. I've always considered her my directorial mentor. I will sorely miss my best friend."

Ms. Hanna was elected to the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame in 2003, the citation citing such work as the Dayton Stories Project with CityFolk and the Adventures in Time radio project with WDPR, as well as her work producing and directing Human Race productions at The Loft Theatre and The Victoria. She was a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

Ms. Hanna is survived by her sister, Judith Smith of Tiffin, and nieces and nephews. Burial will be in Tiffin. A Dayton memorial service will be held at a later date.

For more information on Marsha Hanna or the Human Race Theatre Company, visit

Related Articles View More Dayton Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Sophie Schulman