After the double blow of the pandemic and the death of Artistic Director Tom Prewitt in November, Arlington’s Avant Bard Theatre is moving ahead under a new model of artistic partnership.
The Avant Bard board of directors was expecting that the company would have to shut its doors. But a group of artists associated with the company came together after Prewitt’s memorial service in December to brainstorm ways to save the company. The result is a new artistic management structure of five “producing partners”: DeMone Seraphin, director of Avant Bard’s recent Helen Hayes Award–winning production of Topdog/Underdog and lead actor in Avant Bard’s Gospel at Colonus; Megan Behm, director of Avant Bard’s Helen Hayes award–nominated A Misanthrope and the prematurely closed (due to the pandemic) Ada and the Engine; Dina Soltan, DC-based actor who played Ada in Ada and the Engine; Alyssa Sanders, DC-based actor involved in numerous Avant Bard productions; and Sara Barker, DC-based actor and longtime Avant Bard Acting Company member.
“It is such a great joy to announce that AVANT BARD IS HERE TO STAY!” said Seraphin upon hearing the board’s agreement to move forward under this new model. “As we honor our late leader, Tom Prewitt, we are MOVING FORWARD with a renewed vigor and commitment to bringing exciting, challenging, progressive, and entertaining programming to Arlington and throughout the DMV area. Follow us on social media, join us in the virtual space, and, when the time is right…meet us in the theater!”
Added Barker: “It’s thrilling to be a part of this strong, thoughtful group of artistic creators coming together to propel Avant Bard Theatre and Tom’s vision forward.”
The news comes on the heels of the recent announcement from the family of Tom Prewitt and Arlington’s Embracing Arlington Arts nonprofit of the launch of the Tom Prewitt Fund for Theatre Arts, managed through the Arlington Community Foundation. The fund “will foster Tom’s lifelong passion for mentoring aspiring young theater artists and nurturing theater/community partnership.”
First up for Avant Bard Theatre is a virtual panel discussion February 26 on putting words to action in light of the reawakened call for equity, diversity, and inclusion. The discussion will not only center on EDI issues in the theater but will also challenge participants to detail actionable steps that will foster a more equitable and inclusive theater in Arlington, the DC-area, and around the country.
Panelists will include Helen Hayes Award–winning Artistic Director of Arena Stage Molly Smith; Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre MTC and former Co-Artistic Director of the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble Chil Kong; Tony Award–winning composer/performer (Passing Strange, The Total Bent) and educator Stew Stewart; award-winning director/choreographer and performer (upcoming Broadway revivals of 1776 and Violet; choreographer for Beyoncé) and Philadelphia Theatre Company resident artist Jeffrey L. Page; and DC-based performer/educator and activist Jjana Valentiner. Avant Bard Theatre Producing Partner DeMone Seraphin will moderate the panel. The panel event is Friday, February 26, 2021, at 7 p.m. and free but requires registration. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Avant Bard Theatre is an Arlington-based performing arts organization dedicated primarily to producing classic works both time-tested and contemporary; emphasizing a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the region, mentored by seasoned, professional theater artists. Avant Bard’s mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, developing talent, and promoting educational and social outreach. Learn more here and find Avant Bard on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.