Michael Kahn, who has been artistic director of the Washington, D.C., Shakespeare Theatre Company since its founding in 1986, has announced his retirement, effective July 2019.
Under his stewardship, the STC, which specializes in revivals of classical works, moved from the Folger Shakespeare Library to the Harman Center for the Arts, and won the 2012 Tony Award as Outstanding Regional Theatre. Kahn himself was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre in New York in 2013.
Before taking the helm at the STC, he directed eight shows on Broadway, including the 1983 revival of Show Boat (which earned him a Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Musical), the 1974 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Keir Dullea and Elizabeth Ashley, and the 1968 musical Here’s Where I Belong.
Kahn released a statement saying: “From the day I arrived in Washington, I have been determined to make this city a destination for lovers of theatre and performing arts. I wanted to make STC accessible to all and introduce new audiences to classic theatre. Thanks to the work of many great artists and collaborators, I believe I’ve achieved these goals. After three fruitful and challenging decades I feel it’s time to step down and let a new energy and creative talent take the Shakespeare Theatre Company into the next era.”
In 2003, he directed The Oedipus Plays at the Athens Festival in Greece. In summer of 2006, the SRT took Kahn’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Complete Works Festival” in Stratford-upon-Avon. In May 2016 the Free For All 25th Anniversary production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Ethan McSweeny, traveled to China to perform Shakespeare’s comedy at the 27th annual celebration of the Macao Arts Festival (MAF).
In addition to leading Shakespeare Theatre Company, Kahn is also the founder of the Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University, which has helped develop and disseminate an American style of classical acting, bearing Kahn’s imprint. He is the former Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard in New York, and still teaches at the school.
SRT Executive Director Chris Jennings said, “Michael is an extraordinary talent and we are profoundly grateful to him for his passion, leadership and dedication. Over three decades, he has built STC into an internationally acclaimed home for classic theatre and has cultivated a wonderful community of artists, patrons and supporters. Shakespeare Theatre Company would not exist without his vision and artistry. We're excited to have enough time to find his successor, but also plenty of time for us to celebrate his achievements and legacy.”
A national search for a successor will begin later this year, with hopes that the new AD will be announced in July 2018, according to a statement from the company.