Expect Hana Sharif to continue Molly Smith’s trailblazing legacy.
Hana Sharif, the new artistic director at Arena Stage
Edgar Dobie, Arena Stage’s (arenastage.org) executive producer, recently summed up the arrival of Hana Sharif as the theater’s new artistic director by speaking about her utter happiness. “It’s a great day when human values, grace and authenticity—which Hana owns in abundance—rhyme with the rich opportunities available [here],” he said. “Hana brings joy with her, and our arms, minds and hearts are wide open to that joy.”
Sharif has colossal shoes to fill with the retirement of Molly Smith, who guided Arena for the past 25 years, including renovating its space in Southwest—long before anyone even envisioned The Wharf. Given her CV, including playwright, director and producer at Hartford Stage and, more recently, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Sharif is up for the challenge. We caught up with her amid the frenzy of a new gig and plans for the fall season.
Best career advice you ever received?
Be clear about why you do the work. If your why is valued-centered, even the hard days will be worth it.
Your biggest artistic influence?
I pull from world music, installation art and great poetry and channel through my exploration and experience of the world. There is magic in the smallest moments.
First play you ever saw that made you want to pursue this career?
When I was young, I saw Porgy & Bess at The Miller’s Outdoor Theatre and fell in love with storytelling onstage. I remember sitting on a picnic blanket with fireflies overhead and being riveted by the show’s music and passion.
Rumor has it you work well with actors.
I love actors’ brilliance and vulnerability and how great actors muscle their way to the truth at the center of the play. I love the depth of their questioning and their willingnes s to activate the whole of themselves to excavate the essential threads of our humanity on stage.
Biggest DC discovery so far?
It’s a city filled with many amazing communities, pockets of culture with idiosyncrasies that I find fascinating and can’t wait to explore with my family.