Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Seema Sueko Named Arena Stage’s New Deputy Artistic Director

Seema Sueko. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Seema Sueko. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Congratulations to accomplished leader, director and artist Seema Sueko, the new Deputy Artistic Director Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington D.C.

Sueko joins Arena Stage from The Pasadena Playhouse, where she served as Associate Artistic Director since January 2014.

“We are lucky indeed to have Seema join us at Arena Stage,” shares Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. “Seema first came to Arena through the Leadership (U) program as part of the Theatre Communications Group in 2013, and it was a superb experience. She is driven about artists and communities, and is a wonderful artist and strategic leader. She made a major impact on the staff and community, making a point to meet everyone and participate in the life of Arena and D.C. Seema is a real leader in the American Theater, and I’m thrilled to have her work side by side with me on the artistic life of Arena Stage.”

As deputy artistic director, Sueko reports directly to Smith and is responsible leading the efforts of Arena Stage’s Artistic Development department, which includes the American Voices New Play Institute, dramaturgy, casting, consensus organizing and audience enrichment activities, as well as implementing of the artistic vision of the theater by assisting in the development of strategy and programming focuses on advancing the theater’s position as a center for American theater. She is fulfilling a new position created following the departure of Robert Barry Fleming to Cleveland Playhouse.

“Throughout my career I have focused on two overarching goals: artistic excellence that creates space for all communities to engage with our art form and pioneering new methodologies and models of theater to build thriving organizations,” comments Sueko. “So it is especially exciting to have the opportunity to work closely with the visionary, and trailblazing, Molly Smith and join the pre-eminent team at Arena Stage. I come ready to find ways to contribute to this outstanding organization’s track record of advancing American artists and our field.”

Prior to her role at Pasadena Playhouse, Sueko was the co-founder and executive artistic director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego. Seema pioneered the consensus organizing for theater methodology, created the green theater choices toolkit, which has been used by theaters and universities on five continents, and is currently engaged in research on the neuroscience of theater. Her directing and acting credits include The Pasadena Playhouse, People’s Light, The Old Globe, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Native Voices, Mo`olelo, among others. Sueko makes her Arena Stage directing debut with Lydia Diamond’s Smart People in April 2017.

As a playwright, she received commissions from Mixed Blood Theatre Company and Center Stage. Her work has been recognized by the California State Assembly, NAACP San Diego Branch, San Diego Theater Critics Circle, Chicago Jeff Awards, and American Theatre magazine named her one of 25 artists from across the country “…who have demonstrated something special in their approach to the art and craft of theatremaking that convinced us they have not only vision and foresight about the field they’ve chosen, but the tenacity and commitment it will take to realize their aspirations over time. Our artistic future, we figure, belongs to people like these.” In 2013 Seema received the inaugural Theatre Communications Group/Andrew Mellon Foundation Leadership U[niversity] grant which brought her to Arena Stage as a Visiting Artistic Associate. She is honored to return.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Arena Stage impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.

Thom Sesma, Brian Lee Huynh, Jeanne Sakata, Graham Smith, Greg Watanabe and more in A SINGLE SHARD at People’s Light through May 29

Video: HIDE AND SEEK Starring Lia Chang and Garth Kravits to Screen in 2016 Katra Film Series in New York on May 14; Complete Lineup

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and


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