An important announcement from Howard Shalwitz


I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly four decades since Roger Brady and I wrote Woolly Mammoth’s founding manifesto and, together with Linda Reinisch, launched the company in Washington, DC. In that time, with the help of many talented and dedicated friends, Woolly has come farther than I could have dreamed.

Our simple proposition has been that it's possible to advance the art of theatre through innovative, provocative new work and, at the same time, to build energetic new audiences. It’s never been easy, but Woolly has thrived in the miraculous downtown home we opened in 2005: a testament to this community's adventurous theatre lovers and many generous supporters both here and around the country. I’m immensely proud that Woolly has stayed true to its risk-taking mission, built a company of remarkable artists, launched dozens of path-breaking plays, and set a standard for organizational creativity that has inspired others.

I've always felt my career would have a second act, and this feels like the right time to give up the daily responsibility of running the company and expand my own horizons as an artist, teacher, and advocate for theatre.  So today I am announcing that the 2017-18 season will be my final year as artistic director of Woolly Mammoth.

Along with Woolly's board and senior staff, I have been planning for this inevitable day for several months, and we have taken many steps to ensure an effective transition to a new artistic leader over the coming year. Our search will begin in the fall and we expect to complete it by next spring. Fortunately, because of the reputation Woolly has achieved, we are well positioned to attract a superb new leader. I am incredibly excited to be part of the search process and watch the next artistic director take Woolly Mammoth to new heights.

In the meantime, we have a remarkable season coming up—including  the re-mount of An Octoroon this summer and my own return to the stage in The Arsonists this fall—and Woolly's pipeline of future projects is more ambitious than ever.

I’m filled with gratitude for all those who have helped Woolly Mammoth reach this moment, taking the vision of a few idealistic dreamers and building it into one of the most influential theatres in America. They include thousands of artists, staff members, board members, supporters, and audience members who have taken a chance on Woolly from day one, believing that we had an important role to play in the growing cultural scene of Washington, DC. I'm equally grateful for all those who will carry the torch forward, including the many dedicated leaders of Woolly's board, staff, and company who have helped me plan for this step. 

The legacy of a theatre company lies in its sense of purpose and in the values and standards and skills that it reinforces over time.  This legacy begins with the theatre's founders, but ultimately resides in everyone who lends their talent and commitment to push the work forward.  Every day that I come to work, I am surrounded by dozens of remarkable colleagues, and they give me confidence that Woolly's mission will continue to be in exceptionally good hands. It's a huge honor for me to know that the Woolly community's determination to innovate and grow will remain as strong as ever.

Sincere thanks to all of you—for your enthusiasm and commitment to Woolly’s unique mission, now and in the future.