We are thrilled to announce that Hana S. Sharif, Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, has been appointed Arena Stage's next Artistic Director, succeeding Molly Smith, who will retire at the end of June after 25 years with the company. Joining Executive Producer Edgar Dobie at the helm of the landmark regional theater, the trailblazing Sharif will be only the fourth artistic director in the company's history.

“We set out to find the best artistic director in America to write the next chapter of Arena Stage's story, and we did.”

Decker Anstrom, Chair of Arena Stage's Board of Trustees

“I have the honor of following three visionary leaders, two of whom are women who have led the organization for 65 of its almost 75 years,” said Hana. “It is a gift to follow Molly Smith's outstanding tenure and join the Arena Stage family. There are many theaters, but there's only one Arena, and I can't wait to begin the journey.”

Here's a special video message from Hana:

As Augustin Family Artistic Director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep), Hana shepherded the organization through a cultural transformation also after the retirement of an iconic leader. Her directorial debut at The Rep was with an adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, which turned out to be the highest grossing show in the company's history. She expanded the theater's commitment to produce world premieres each season, including Dreaming Zenzile, Feeding Beatrice, and House of Joy, and her production of Ken Ludwig's stage adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express in The Rep's recently concluded 2022/23 season received rave reviews.

Hana has many other firsts and successes to her credit; read more in our press release here. She also chatted with Molly in 2021 for a special edition of “Molly's Salon" you can view that episode here.

“Hana's embrace of Arena's mission, vision and values is wonderfully ambitious, and I have no doubt she will fill our theaters and communal spaces with deep, meaningful, and joyful artistry.”

Catherine Guttman-McCabe, Arena Stage Board Chair-Elect and Search Committee Chair

This is what Edgar had to say: “Hana's own origin story has prepared her like no other artist for this moment at Arena.“It's a great day when human values, grace, and authenticity—which Hana owns in abundance—rhyme with the rich opportunities available at our about-to-be 75-year-young enterprise. Hana brings joy with her, and our arms, minds, and hearts are wide open to that joy.”

As usual, Molly put it perfectly: “For the last 25 years, I have held magic in my hands. “From that first moment 25 years ago, when I came to Arena, I was blessed with a top-notch production staff and dynamic administration. We can create anything, and we have; and we’ve changed America along the way. Now, it’s time to pass that magic on to the next generation—to Hana. I know her magic will be mesmerizing and I, for one, will be cheering from the audience.”

Hana Through the Years

Photo of Hana Sharif by Cheshire Isaac
Hana Sharif at First Rehearsal image for The Rep’s 2019 production of Pride & Prejudice, courtesy Hana Sharif
Hana Sharif with her family at the 2019 Deluxe Magazine Power 100 Awards, courtesy Hana Sharif
Photo of Hana Sharif by Matt Marcinkowski
Hana Sharif at the EmcArts Innovation Lab Retreat, courtesy Hana Sharif
Hana Sharif & Meredith Baxter discussing Angels In America on STL LIVE with host Jade Harrell, courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Press Release

Arena Stage Names Hana Sharif as its New Artistic Director

Header Photo of Hana Sharif by Cheshire Isaac