Arena Stage The Mead Center for American Theater MY ACCOUNT

We'll miss you Chuck Fox


Peter Markstheater critic

Peter MarksIf you love taking in the bracing air of the American theater, you have Zelda Fichandler to thank. Because she supplied the oxygen. The dream she saw fulfilled, of a dynamic environment in which actors, playwrights and audiences could share in her passion for great drama, gave the breath of life to an art form, one that was struggling at the time.- for the Washington Post

Rainn Wilsonactor

Rainn WilsonZelda essentially founded the regional theater movement that brought great theater to every corner of America. She slept, ate and bled theater. She worshiped playwrights, promoted directors and devoted her life to the development of young actors. Thousands were entertained by her work. Hundreds benefited from her training. Zelda died late last month. I want to shout out to the world: “Thank you, Zelda! If not for you, I would not be an actor. You made the world rich with stories, rich with heart. You will be missed.”- for the Washington Post

Douglas C. Wagerformer artistic director of Arena Stage

Douglas WagerOur world has lost a blessed, powerful, tenacious, inspired visionary. Zelda gave so many of us the chance to live and grow within the encouraging embrace of an amazing creative community of possibility. She worked from a deeply feminine understanding of the importance of allowing people working at every level of the organization to feel they could speak up and contribute, but you always knew she held the reins; you were working for an incredibly strong, willful, prodigiously gifted visionary leader.- for American Theatre

Joe Dowlingformer artistic director of the Guthrie Theater

Joe DowlingZelda was one of that amazing generation of artists who, seeing a huge vacuum in theatre outside New York, resolved to change matters themselves. The courage Zelda and her contemporaries showed is hard to imagine now, with the resident theatre movement spread from coast to coast. When Zelda, Tom Fichandler, and Ed Magnum began Arena in the early ’50s, there was no map and very little precedent to follow.- for American Theatre

Tazewell Thompsonplaywright and director

Tazewell ThompsonZelda: complex, tough, tender, inspiring, imaginative, inventive, erudite, difficult, unique, caring, loving, political, brilliant, brave, bold, tenacious, remarkable, renegade, witty, relentless, stylish, classy, resilient, empathetic, fallible, uncompromising, vulnerable, visionary, vain, genius, magician, phoenix, soulful, radiant, transcendent, splendid.- for American Theatre

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton(D-DC)

Eleanor Holmes NortonThe passing of Zelda Fichandler, a co-founder of Arena Stage in the 1950s, reminds us of how much we owe to Fichandler and the pioneers of theater and performing arts here…We celebrate Zelda Fichandler, who was not content to leave her city in the backwater of American culture and dared to use the stage to lead us to become today’s cosmopolitan D.C.

Todd Londonexecutive director/professor at University of Washington School of Drama

Todd LondonIt may be too much to say that without Zelda the nonprofit theatre community wouldn’t be here; it’s possible, though, that without her leadership we wouldn’t know what we are here for.- for American Theatre

Andrew Weemsactor and teacher

Andrew WeemsShe spent her life making people fly through the air, making sure there was someone to catch them, and making sure there were people to witness it all, so we could all live through it together. Thanks to Zelda and a few other pioneers, the American theatre—the American national theatre—is busy doing its work, and making itself known all over the country in big venues and small, pushing and prodding and striving every day to reveal and celebrate the essential, aggravating, joyous, sad, exalted truth of our collective humanity. Zelda strove her whole life to illuminate that humanity.- for American Theatre

Gordon Davidsonfounding artistic director of Center Theatre Group

Gordon DavidsonZelda was a pioneer and an artist of deep resources. She was special to my life and I am grateful for her wisdom and her caring. We were good friends, but she was much more than that to me: inspirational and brave.- for American Theatre

James Nicolaartistic director of New York Theater Workshop

James NicolaIt’s hard to accept that my own personal sun, my Zelda, has set with some ultimate finality. I will have to believe that some of her essence radiates on still, and enlightens the dark world, in and by the many, many of us who were shaped by her, who must live on now without her.- for American Theatre

Jaan Whiteheadtrustee emeritus and former board chair of SITI Company

Jaan WhiteheadZelda revolutionized the field of theatre and led it forward for many decades as our most articulate spokesperson. But she also touched peoples’ lives in very personal ways, inspiring students, sustaining artists, and engaging audiences. We have all been deeply enriched by her.- for American Theatre