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Charlene V. Smith

Director, Actor, Scholar

Feminist Arts Leader



I find meaning in keeping my hands and mind busy. The place I most want to be is in a rehearsal room collaborating with a group of actors. When that is not possible, I practice needlepoint, crochet, journaling, calligraphy, and any other hobby of the week. I love lighthouses and succulents and am obsessed with Margaret of Anjou. 

I am currently located in Cleveland, Ohio, and prior to that made the Washington, DC, area my home for fifteen years. While there, I was the co-founder and artistic director of Brave Spirits Theatre, which staged visceral and intimate productions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries with a focus on female artists and feminist perspectives. I am one of the few women in the world to have directed a full cycle of Shakespeare’s Henriad. During the pandemic, I directed both of Shakespeare’s history tetralogies as audio productions, to be released soon. 

I have an MLitt and MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University. My scholarship includes essays in The Palgrave Handbook of Shakespeare’s Queens (winner of the Royal Studies Journal Book Prize for 2020) and Arden Shakespeare’s The Changeling: The State of Play, as well as being the head editor of Rogue Shakespeare: Stagecraft and Scholarship in an Ensemble-Based MFA Company. Advancing justice and equity in the theatre industry is important to me; I was part of the working committee for Not In Our House DC and I currently serve as co-chair of the IDEAA committee for the Shakespeare Theatre Association.


This year, I directed A Midsummer Night's Dream for Hathaway Brown Upper School and guest taught the second semester of an acting class.  I completed Module 1 training with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium. I also wrote two pieces that will be published in the coming months: Claire Kimball and I collaborated on a process paper about Brave Spirits Theatre's 2015 production of The Bloody Banquet for The Theatrical Legacy of Thomas Middleton and I reviewed Trinity Rep's production of By the Queen for Shakespeare Bulletin. Next year I will appear as Woman 1 in Women of Lockerbie with Seat of the Pants Productions, directed by Craig Joseph.

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