I am delighted to pen my first note as your new Artistic Director at Arena Stage! I’m looking forward to getting to know you over the coming days, weeks, and months, and I wanted to take a moment to say hello. I am so grateful for the incredibly warm welcome I’ve received since joining the iconic Arena Stage family.

It has been a whirlwind settling into this extraordinary city. There is an unparalleled beauty, electricity, and an indomitable spirit to our nation’s capital. The palpable energy that promises infinite possibility was teeming through the Mead Center for American Theater as I was welcomed with open arms by Edgar and the entire company. I am so inspired by the talent, passion, and dedication of Arena’s world-class staff. 

Molly once told me the magic and power of Arena is its people. Over the last week, I’ve had the opportunity to begin to get to know this phenomenal team of artists, artisans, technicians, support personnel, and administrators. Their collective resolve to deliver exceptional, transformative, thought-provoking theater is galvanizing. I am buoyed by their dreams for the future of Arena Stage.

My eldest daughter and my father joined me for the stunning closing performance of Cambodian Rock Band. We laughed, cried, and danced alongside 510 of you. Three generations connecting through the reality of a family a world away… that is the power of great theater.

Backstage, I got to raise a glass to celebrate the artists, crew, stage management, and creative teams and felt a flood of gratitude. I also raised a glass to the inimitable Molly Smith, who courageously and faithfully believed in the possibility of a theater that could nurture, honor, and hold the full spectrum of the American Spirit with all its beauty and complexity.  

Equally inspiring is your unwavering support. Your enthusiasm for theater and your loyalty to Arena Stage are extraordinary. I have been overwhelmed by the notes and emails welcoming me to your city. Thank you for continuing to be a part of the Arena Stage family and entrusting me with the privilege of leading this remarkable institution.

It’s clear that the fabric of Arena Stage is woven together by myriad threads of those who hold a genuine love for the arts and a deep understanding of the role that theater plays in shaping society. As Edgar and I chart the future of Arena Stage, building on its history of fearless exploration and artistic innovation, I look forward to deepening our commitment to bold, ambitious voices that define our evolving nation.

Thank you all for the joyful welcome.  I can’t wait to see you at the theater!



Hana S. Sharif

Arena Stage Artistic Director