Washington Stage Guild Founder Ann Norton Steps Down as Executive Director

Steven Carpenter named associate artistic director.

The Washington Stage Guild announced the stepping-down of Executive Director Ann Norton, one of WSG’s Founding Members. Norton’s 32 years in leadership roles helped nurture the Washington Stage Guild into one of the area’s most respected and enduring theatre companies.

Washington Stage Guild Founder Ann Norton
Ann Norton. Photo courtesy of Washington Stage Guild.

Her accomplishments will be celebrated at the Washington Stage Guild’s 2018 gala, to be held at the Arts Club of Washington on Thursday, November 8. The theme of the gala, “An Affair to Remember,” celebrates the Golden Age of Hollywood, the setting for the upcoming World Premiere of All Save One by area playwright Greg Jones Ellis, set in Los Angeles 1950.

Dubbed “the matriarch of one of the city’s proudest small theater companies” by the Washington Post, Norton co-founded the Washington Stage Guild in 1986 with a group of artists that included her husband, the late John MacDonald. With MacDonald as Artistic Director and Norton as Executive Director, the fledgling company was comprised largely of colleagues and classmates from Catholic University’s Drama Department (where Norton and MacDonald met). In the following decades, Norton and a dedicated company have staged more than 120 full productions as well as dozens of staged readings. The company has inhabited five performance spaces over the years. Their current home is the Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church.

Norton has accepted the position of Performance Manager for George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.

“Ann is truly the secret of our success,” says actor/director Laura Giannarelli, currently the company’s Board President. “It takes a leader of Ann’s charisma, combined with boundless energy, to effectively run a theatre company. Ann has kept the doors open through political shifts, varying budget pressures and a myriad of challenges. Through it all, she has maintained wonderful relationships with everyone from foundation sponsors to private donors.” Adds Artistic Director Bill Largess, “Ann’s ability to make audiences feel like ‘part of the family’ has played a big part in establishing the Stage Guild’s place in the theatre community. Her long tenure as president of The League of Washington Theatres and her membership on the board of the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive, WAPAVA, made her an indispensable resource on theatre in the DC region.”

Norton will remain on the Washington Stage Guild Board of Directors. The duties of the Executive Director will be assumed by various Board members as the company prepares to initiate a search for a permanent replacement.

Steven Carpenter. Photo courtesy of Washington Stage Guild.

In additional staffing news, actor/director Steven Carpenter has been named Associate Artistic Director of the WSG. In this capacity, Carter, a three-time Helen Hayes Award nominee who recently appeared as Joseph Tooker in this season’s opener, Summerland, has a long association with the WSG, beginning in 1998 with his role as Vronsky in Anna Karenina, opposite the late Tricia McCauley.

Since then, Carpenter has appeared in more than a dozen WSG productions and directed a dozen more, alongside work at other professional theatres in the area. “Steve is a mainstay of our company, and this official position is an acknowledgment of his integral role in our past, present and most importantly, future,” noted Largess.

Tickets for the 2018 Gala, “An Affair to Remember,” can be purchased via the Washington Stage Guild website. A part of the ticket price is a tax-deductible contribution. For more information, go online.