Donald R. Seawell, founder and chairman of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), announced that Thompson, producing artistic director of Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), will succeed Donovan Marley as artistic director of the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC) effective July 1, 2005.
"The nationwide search for a new artistic director has been long and intensive," Seawell said, "and it has paid off. Kent is an ideal choice."
Thompson has been producing artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival for nearly 16 years, during which time he staged nearly half of the Shakespearean canon, among a wide variety of other productions. His recent staging of Macbeth was selected by Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), to tour to 13 military bases throughout the United States in fall 2004.
In 1991 Thompson created the Southern Writers' Project (SWP), a program designed to commission and develop new plays. SWP has presented 16 world premieres since its inception. He said he's interested in expanding DCTC's new plays program, which was cut back in recent years.
"I look forward to building upon the many strengths and talents of this organization, while bringing a new artistic vision and perspective, including a major expansion of DCTC's new play program," Thompson said in a statement. "This company has had considerable artistic and institutional success; with the help of the people of Denver and Colorado, I believe we can create a theatre of even greater national and international significance." A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary and a Draper's Company Scholar to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, Thompson has directed for Signature Theatre Company (New York), Goodspeed Musicals, the Cleveland Play House, Studio Arena Theatre, StageWest, Utah Shakespearean Festival, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and the Boston Shakespeare Company.
"Kent is already working on the 2005-06 season," said Seawell. "I promise it will be an exciting one."
Among world premieres presented through ASF's Southern Writers' Project are Craig Warner's Disguises, James McLure's Iago, Kia Corthron's The Venus de Milo is Armed, Romulus Linney's A Lesson Before Dying, Keith Glover's Thunder Knocking on the Door, Carlyle Brown's The Negro of Peter the Great, Barbara Lebow's Lurleen, Regina Taylor's A Night in Tunisia and Doris Baizley's Shiloh Rules. In February 2005, SWP's Festival of New Plays, will feature a world premiere of Regina Taylor's The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove (about the life and times of African-American entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker), and readings of four other works, including Javon Johnson and Ron Metcalfe's new gospel musical, Sanctifide, and a stage adaptation of Sena Jeter Naslund's novel, Four Spirits.
The Southern Writers Project has workshopped and developed scripts by dozens of playwrights, including Rebecca Gilman, Samm-Art Williams, Ona Faida Lampley, Charlene Hall-Reddick, John Henry Redwood, Syd Rushing, John MacNicholas, Keith Josef Adkins, Vincent Delaney, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, and Eric Coble.