Michael Kahn Inducted as Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Lindsay Tolar


Michael Kahn: Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Michael Kahn: Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Photo by Kevin Allen.

Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, has been inducted as an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a national order of chivalry for British nationals and people who impact the United Kingdom. Kahn was invested into the order by the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter Westmacott, during a private ceremony at the Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire recognizes distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organizations of all kinds. Past Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from the United States include New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and New York Fire Department Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. There are more than 100,000 living members of the Order throughout the world.

According to the British Embassy, British Honors are awarded on merit for exceptional achievement or service and recipients are chosen by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II based on the advice of the Prime Minister and other ministers to the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs recommends honorary awards to citizens from other countries for services rendered to the United Kingdom. Recent American recipients of Honors include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and film director Steven Spielberg (Knights Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (Knights Grand Cross of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath).

In anticipation of the award, Kahn said, “I am very grateful and humbled by this honor from the British government and most particularly since it is being given to an American for their work on Shakespeare.”

The British Ambassador and Lady Westamacott hosted a fundraising event in conjunction with the celebration of Kahn’s achievement. The program for the evening, themed an Artistic Salute to England on the occasion of Shakespeare’s birthday and St. George’s Day, featured performances by esteemed American actors and veterans of the STC stages Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Stacy Keach and Patrick Page. STC Associate Director Alan Paul directed the program.

Guests attending the event included  Adrienne Arsht, Richard and Pamela Hanlon, Helen Lee Henderson, John W. Hill, Jr., Fred P. Hochberg, Kay Kendall, Dr. Maxine Isaacs, Abbe Lowell, Melissa Moss, The Honorable William and Mrs. Ann Nitze, Gene Procknow, Glenn and Suzanne Youngkin and Jane Harman.

Michael Kahn. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin /The Washington Post.
Michael Kahn. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin /The Washington Post.


Artistic Director Michael Kahn was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame by the American Theater Critics Association earlier this year after leading the Shakespeare Theatre Company to become a Regional Theatre Tony Award® recipient in 2012. Kahn’s numerous honors and awards include seven Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Director, the 2007 Mayor’s Arts Award Special Recognition for Shakespeare in Washington, the 2007 Sir John Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts, 2005 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference and a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway production of Show Boat.In addition to leading STC, he is also the founder of the Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University and the former Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard. In 1991, he created STC’s Free For All, a beloved Washington tradition which brings an STC production to audiences completely free of charge every year. The Free For All has reached more than 642,000 people to date.

Kahn is currently directing the world premiere adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein as part of STC’s Hero/Traitor Repertory and recently staged a hit production of Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector. He has directed a wide variety of Shakespearean and classical works for STC, including Strange InterludeThe Heir Apparent, Old Times, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Liar, Richard II, The Alchemist, Design for Living and The Way of the World, among many others. Since the 1960s, Kahn’s work has been seen by audiences across the country and the world: in New York City, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at both the American Shakespeare Theatre and the McCarter Theatre where he served as Artistic Director concurrently. In 2003, STC performed his production of The Oedipus Plays at the Athens Festival in Greece, where it received standing ovations and critical acclaim. In the summer of 2006, the Company took Kahn’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Complete Works Festival” in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has become one of the nation’s leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Managing Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation’s premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company’s artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights’ language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and acting classes to discussion series as well as accessible programs like the annual Free For All, one of STC’s most beloved annual traditions, allowing audiences to experience Shakespeare at no charge.

Michael Kahn accepts Shakespeare Theatre Company's Tony Award. Photo courtesy of The Tony Awards.
Michael Kahn accepts Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2012 Regional Tony Award. Photo courtesy of The Tony Awards.

Located in our nation’s capital, STC performs in two theatres, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C., creating a dynamic, cultural hub of activity that showcases STC as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC moved into the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in March 1992, after six years in residency in the Folger Library’s Elizabethan theatre. At that time the Penn Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many; since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization. The 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall opened in October 2007.


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