Actors Arena

Mission Statement

Actors Arena provides dedicated, experienced local professional actors a forum in which to hone and develop skills, facilitate substantive artistic exploration and nourish the artistic spirit.

Through hands-on workshops, invited personal perspectives and roundtable conversations, we create a space for dialogue and artistic growth in order to inspire, rejuvenate and strengthen our D.C. theater community.

“When we opened the Mead Center for American Theater, we wanted to be a part of the Washington theater community and open our doors to artists as well as audiences. This program is completely driven by actors in our community. The program has grown by leaps and bounds, giving actors what they want—they decide the direction and where they would like to improve. It’s exciting to have that energy in our artistic home. I know most of these talented artists personally and am proud that we can offer this professional development to our local acting community.” – Molly Smith, Arena Stage's Artistic Director

What is Actors Arena?

Actors Arena is a professional development program that offers free workshops to a membership of local Washington, D.C. professional actors. Through hands-on workshops, invited perspectives and roundtable conversations, members of Actors Arena engage in dialogue that encourages artistic growth in order to inspire, rejuvenate and strengthen the D.C. theater community.

This season, Actors Arena is exploring the themes of “Coming to Mastery” and “Mastering your Artistry.” Some of the featured presenters this season include: Molly Smith, Erika Rose, Kara-Tamekia Smith, Colin Hovde, Naomi Jacobson, Dody DiSanto, Steven Dietz, Deborah Tannen, Jenna Duncan, Patrick Pearson, Kelly D’Amboise, Victor Vazquez and Caleen Jennings.

Whether it comes in a flash or late in the process, character is the essential lens through which actors shine, illuminating recognizable, fascinating, potentially outrageous, three-dimensional human beings with memories, experiences, tensions, opinions and a unique perspective and point of view. Some of us grind this lens from outside ourselves; others find the lens within. Join us to create and develop character.

For a membership application, please email

2018/19 Schedule

This season, Actors Arena is exploring the theme of “Making the Community the COMPANY.” Featured presenters include renowned local theater artists such as Jennifer Nelson, Caleen Sinnette Jennings and more. We will engage in workshops, master classes, and greenroom discussions to enlighten members with skills that will challenge, support and cultivate their artistry.

All times 6:30 – 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted.


September 2018 

Season Party
Guest artist and founding member Nancy Robinett returns to Actors Arena to help set off the 2018/19 season!

October 2019 

Building and Becoming an On-Stage Character
Join us for a workshop with Director Jennifer Nelson as she kicks off our first workshop of the 2018/19 season.

November 2019

Bard's not Hard: Fun and Skills...
Join local playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings for an incredible workshop about fun skills building with Shakespeare.


March 2019

Kabuki Shipoopi
Straight Plays and Musical Theater: Dancing Between Both Worlds
Panel Discussion
Join us as we discuss working within the worlds of both straight plays and musical theater. Local will discuss their audition preparations and a local director with discuss the art of casting actors between both worlds.

The Other Side of the Table
Panel Discussion
Ever thought about crossing over to the other side of the table in the rehearsal hall? Join us as several local actors who have ventured into playwrighting and directing discuss the journey of working on and off the stage.

May 2019

Meeting a New Artistic Local Leader
Join us as we meet a newly hired artistic leader within our community who is leading one of our primer D.C. theaters. Learn about this artist journey into the D.C. theater scene and hear about what their vision is as they begin their leadership and how they see the D.C. theater community growing in the coming years.

During the 2019/20 Season, Actors Arena will celebrate ten years of providing an artistic and safe space for dedicated, experienced and professional actors to hone their skills, explore relevant issues and deepen their artistry. Please check back for special details on the tenth anniversary schedule.


Actors Arena is generously sponsored in part by the Actors' Equity Foundation.

Steering Committee

Kelly Armstrong
Naomi Jacobson
Sean-Maurice Lynch
Larry Redmond
Jefferson Russell
Dorea Schmidt
Stephen F. Schmidt
Kimberly Schraf
Jjana Valentiner