After 12 seasons, just as many Colorado New Play Summits, and more than 20 director credits, Kent Thompson will step down as artistic director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company.
“I really feel like I accomplished what I set out to do here in many ways,” Thompson said after he made the announcement. “It’s time to step into a new chapter.”
Thompson will leave March 3, which is well before the 2016-17 season ends in late-May. That decision gives the theater company more time to prepare for its next season under a new leader, he said.
“We’re well down the road of season selection and hiring creative teams,” Thompson said. “It seemed like now was the right time (to announce the resignation) because, frankly, the season closes and we’re in design conference, we’re in casting and we’re in high-gear for the next season.”
The departure allows Thompson to focus on writing a book he started more than a year ago.
“It’s about professional directing, something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time,” he said. “And it’s a great opportunity that I just can’t let slip by.”
The DCPA has two stage divisions: One for travelling Broadway shows and the other for regionally produced theater. Thompson oversaw the latter, and under his vision the Theatre Company also emphasized emerging voices.
“The Denver Center Theatre Company for a long time had a record of new play development, and it had kind of fallen by the wayside in the few years before I came here,” he said.
So Thompson worked to bring it back. He started the Colorado New Play Summit, which features readings of new scripts from around the country every February. Some scripts get commissioned and then later premiere in Denver as full productions. That includes “The Whale” and “The Legend Of Georgia McBride,” which later had their own off-Broadway runs in New York City.
Thompson also launched other initiatives like the Women’s Voices Fund to highlight diverse talent. As artistic director, he recently had a hand in creating immersive experiences aimed at younger theatergoers like 2016’s “Sweet & Lucky.”
Thompson’s departure is the latest in a string of staff changes at the DCPA. Janice Sinden took over as president and CEO after her predecessor held the job for only 13 months. The organization has also welcomed a new associate artistic director, Nataki Garrett, whom Thompson hired.
The Denver Center will conduct a national search for its next producing artistic director later in 2017.