Avant Bard sets 2023/24 season with Kathleen Akerley as new partner

Akerley joins Sara Barker and Alyssa Sanders on leadership team. Next up: Scripts in Play festival, a co-production with Longacre Lea, and a DC premiere.

Avant Bard Theatre is thrilled to announce that Kathleen Akerley has joined Sara Barker
and Alyssa Sanders as a third Producing Partner on its shared leadership team. Akerley
is the founder and Artistic Director of Longacre Lea and has collaborated with Avant
Bard numerous times as an actor (in Caligula, Macbeth, Juno and the Paycock, Medea, Every Young Woman’s Desire, Hedda Gabler, and Hapgood, for which she received a Mary Goldwater Theater Lobby Award) and director (2023’s Julius Caesar in addition to The Tooth of Crime, Jumpers, and Macbett, which was co-directed with founding company member Christopher Henley).

“Sara and I were over the moon when Kathleen shared interest in leading Avant Bard
with us,” stated Producing Partner Alyssa Sanders. “With our history as actors, we were
aware of the need to bring a director’s viewpoint to the team, and Kathleen’s experience,
knowledge of the company, and keen eye will undoubtedly serve Avant Bard well.”

Kathleen Akerley

Akerley stated, “I’m particularly excited by how the company is situated to engage their
community with education outreach.” Since 2019, Akerley has been the Film teacher at
Arlington’s HB Woodlawn Secondary Program, “which has increased my awareness of
and commitment to creating theatrical experiences that echo and support the content students are mastering in school.”

With the three Producing Partners at the helm, Avant Bard will begin its season with its
8th annual free Scripts in Play staged reading festival, which both develops and
showcases new works by playwrights from the DC area and beyond. The festival will again be co-hosted by Arlington art galleries, including Arlington’s Museum of
Contemporary Art (MoCA). The festival will take place Friday evenings and Sunday
afternoons in the latter half of January and early February.

For its first full production of the season, Avant Bard will present a co-production, with
Longacre Lea, of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, to be directed by Longacre Lea Managing Director Séamus Miller. “Inspired by video games, virtual reality, and our cultural embrace of ultra-violence, the production will reframe our understanding of the protagonist through a trauma-informed lens,” Miller explains. “The audience will be directly involved and implicated in the conditioning of a man who is bred into, even celebrated for, antisocial brutality—and then punished for his learned inability to ‘play nice.’” Longacre Lea will bring its signature video presence to the co-production. Previews begin Thursday, February 29. Opening Matinee is Sunday, March 3.

The final production of the season is the DC-area premiere of Homeless Garden by
Matthew Minnicino, a playwright known to area audiences for his Helen Hayes–nominated adaptation of The Misanthrope for Avant Bard in 2019. Homeless Garden modernizes and deconstructs Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard with an eye on the interconnection of environmental and class issues. Kathleen Akerley will direct Avant Bard’s production. Previews begin Thursday, May 2. Opening Matinee is Sunday, May 5.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, Avant Bard produces thought-provoking theater. Avant Bard dedicates itself to productions of classic works—both time-tested and contemporary—that take provocative, bold approaches in intimate settings. Since 1990, Avant Bard has delivered high-quality, diverse, and accessible arts to the Washington, DC, region. Avant Bard’s mission includes a commitment to talent development, equity, inclusion, and programmatic excellence. Learn more at avantbard.org. Information about Scripts in Play Festival script submission is here.


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