DETROIT: Detroit Repertory Theatre has named Kendra Ann Flournoy to be its new managing artistic director. Flournoy will work alongside the theatre’s new executive artistic director, Leah Smith, in running the organization’s business operations and artistic programming.
The new change in leadership comes after founding artistic directors and fiscal officers Bruce Millan and Barbara Busby decided to step down from their roles and name Smith their successor. This year marks the 65th anniversary of Detroit Rep and Smith’s first year in the position. Her first task was to locate a leadership partner who could help usher in the theatre’s new artistic vision.
“The Detroit Rep has thrived for so long due to the collective artistic creation and support of many people,” said Smith in a statement. “My predecessors, the founders of this theatre, were a team. It was imperative that I too find a partner who knows the power of diversity-centered theatre, and that theatre can create and sustain community, uplift us, and inspire us to be better human beings. Kendra herself is an inspiration. She is an artist and an innovative leader, and I am honored to have her by my side as we move the Rep forward together.”
Flournoy, also a Detroit native, brings with her a decorated résumé. She has also worked as a playwright, educator, and theatre administrator. Her plays have been staged in Kalamazoo, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Her work 50in50: Letters to Our Daughters was presented by the Billie Holiday Theatre and Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in 2019, and her play Behind Maceo’s Eyes was in the Black Lady Theatre’s 2019 Foundation: New Writings Series. She also co-founded Face Off Theatre Company, a theatre dedicated to providing thought-provoking Black theatre and professional development to local artists of color. For three seasons, she worked at the Lark Theatre and collaborated with the artistic and operations teams, serving as director of alumni programs and overseeing three of the organization’s generative programs. Flournoy received her B.A. and MFA in creative writing from Western Michigan University.
“This is a full-circle moment for me,” said Flournoy in a statement. “It’s a dream fulfilled to be back in my hometown doing what I love. I’m honored to have an opportunity to serve my city and work alongside Leah in shaping the next iteration of the Detroit Rep. I’m excited to help raise the visibility of this legendary theatre, an institution that fought to bring professional theatre and community service to the inner city. It means so much to ensure the growth and longevity of this theatre and to contribute to the revitalization of Detroit’s theatre scene.”
The Detroit Repertory Theatre was founded in 1957 and is Michigan’s longest-running nonprofit professional union theatre. The 194-seat theatre produces four major productions a season giving 180 or more performances a year. As of 2019, Detroit Rep had a budget of approximately $500,000.
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