Director

The King's Shadow

 

"Theatre that forces you to work your mind at multiple levels" -- Andrew White

"Y'all are in for a helluva ride this time. Just sayin'."

-- Andrew White, Broadway World, on Henry the Fourth, Part 1

"Richard the Second is a resounding success."

-- Sophia Howes, DC Metro Theater Arts

"Leading off this ambitious project is Charlene V. Smith's razor-sharp production of "Richard II," ... Director Smith has assembled a cast that is assured in its understanding of Shakespeare's language; more importantly, she has nurtured some of the most creative, nuanced readings of the Bard's famous speeches I have ever heard."

-- Andrew White, Broadway World

The Changeling

 

"Brave New Spirits’ staging of The Changeling is a compassionate approach to theater, with a reparative update to an epilogue that was overdue for it. It is also a reminder of the potential for storytelling to suggest ways forward for reckoning with the crimes and hypocrisies of the past and of our own era."

-- Lydia Zoells, Electric Eel

"Brave Spirits Theatre’s The Changeling is a moving tale of the devastation both seen and felt in the trauma inflicted upon women. Smith’s creativity for telling the story of that trauma in a compelling and brutal way without subjecting its audience to scenes of sexual assault is a masterful work of art and is not to be missed."

-- Claudia Back, Theatre Bloom

Coriolanus

 

"Director Charlene V. Smith gives Coriolanus a powerful impact using immersive theatre techniques.  Without spoiling all the surprises, the ensemble swirls around the audience with music and motion that give new energy to a play that can be static, even stagnant, in less skillful hands. ... This reviewer has seen a half-dozen productions of this Coriolanus, but the Brave Spirits Theatre rendition is the most enthralling of the bunch.  Even if you have seen the play before, you haven’t seen Coriolanus in its full, dark glory unless you see this production."

--Steven McKnight, DC Theatre Scene

"This is an extraordinary Coriolanus: insightful, gripping, and painfully timely. It pulses with energy and powerful, immensely skilled performances. It’s very much a Coriolanus for right now, and must be experienced."

-- Joshua Engel, Theatre Bloom

"Director Charlene V. Smith has teased out a coherent, transcendent narrative which does not provide any easy answers, yet feels complete and profound."

-- Darby DeJarnette, DC Metro Theater Arts

"[Smith] explores Shakespeare's texts with both a trust and openness that results in some of the most theatrically stimulating Shakespearean experiences I've known."

-- Eric Minton, Shakespeareances.com

'Tis Pity She's a Whore

 

"If you have not relished in Ford’s poetic diction, austere beauty, and unbridled human passions, Brave Spirits Theatre offers a superb introduction with this production. Under the detailed and sensitive direction of BST artistic director Charlene V. Smith, ‘Tis Pity gallops along at a brisk pace while never losing the crisp and expansive language that lays bare the tortured souls of Ford’s imagined Italian city of Parma."

-- Jeffrey Walker, DC Theatre Scene

"Director Charlene V. Smith (Brave Spirits’ artistic director) nicely hones the comedy in a subplot about a ninny named Bergetto (Kennedy), who in this production is seen sucking on a series of lollipops. The drollery serves to emphasize the intensity of the broader play, which centers on a secret love affair between siblings Giovanni (Cackley) and Annabella (Jenna Berk)."

-- Celia Wren, The Washington Post

"Brave Spirits' staging is my third exposure to 'Tis Pity and the first I fully appreciated. Smith, the company's producing artistic director, embraces the hyperdramatic nature of Ford's script and gets the whole company to play the characters' emotions broadly while maintaining disciplined gestures and movement."

-- Eric Minton, Shakespeareances.com

"Between the talent of the creative team and the acting strength of the cast, this is one stellar production. The rich and poetic language is beautifully spoken and carries the audience through this tragic tale of doomed love, vengeance, and duplicity. Steel your heart and go see this production."

-- Kendall Mostafavi, DC Metro Theater Arts

Antony and Cleopatra

 

"Charlene V. Smith is one of my favorite young directors of Shakespeare plays. The artistic director of Brave Spirits Theatre based in Alexandria, Virginia, brings textual respect and theatrical wonder to her productions while layering in her own visionary staging skills. Most of all, she brings audacity to her work, a youthful exuberance, brash confidence, and a sense of adventure as she tackles both tried-and-true and obscure titles with small casts and small budgets in small spaces before small audiences."

-- Eric Minton, Shakespeareances.com

"[Charlene V.] Smith, [Jessica] Lefkow, [Joe] Carlson, and the cast stage a surreal, ecstatic drawing up of Antony’s body to Cleopatra’s monument. It’s a magnificent use of the space, the kind of spectacle one might expect in an enormous theater, staged in the intimacy of a tiny room with the audience drawn close to the action. Brave Spirits Theatre has crafted an inspiring, amazing production. It is insightful and entertaining, not just for fans of Shakespeare but for anybody who wants to see powerful human emotions, lifelike and larger-than-life."

-- Joshua Engel, Theatre Bloom

"... an ambitious, beautifully wrought, and passionate production of a classic play. ... this Brave Spirits production is done in what some may see as an unlikely location – a small repurposed building near a suburban church on the borderline between Arlington’s Fairlington and Alexandria’s Parkfairfax. Don’t be put off, for inside that non-descript building is all the theater magic you could ever want."

-- David Siegel, DC Metro Theater Arts

The Bloody Banquet

 

"For nearly four centuries, the theater world has been overlooking a crowd-pleaser, to judge by Brave Spirits Theatre’s diverting take on the revenge tragedy 'The Bloody Banquet.' ... Co-directors Casey Kaleba (a veteran fight director) and Charlene V. Smith keep the mayhem moving at a brisk pace in the Anacostia Arts Center’s black-box venue."

-- Celia Wren, The Washington Post

 

The Two Noble Kinsmen

 

"Both productions turn out to be delightfully comic, particularly—wait for it—The Two Noble Kinsmen. It is a play so rarely staged that the fact Brave Spirits is mounting it would be reason enough for DC-area Shakespeare geeks to see it; the fact that it is staged so intelligently and acted so deftly is reason for everybody else to check it out, too. ... How the Jailer's Daughter's story plays out in the context of the rest of this play's archaic plot is a credit to Smith, whose sure-handed direction lifts Kinsmen's plodding narrative to life by, counterintuitively, focusing on the play's ceremonial structure.”

--Eric Minton, Shakespeareances.com

 

“There is much to admire about the Brave Spirits troupe under the direction of Charlene V. Smith — their eager ambition, the quality and passion of their performances, and the talent that has many of them double as backstage musicians.”

-- Roget Catlin, MD Theatre Guide

 

“Director Charlene V. Smith sensitively charges Kinsmen with gender insight into the play’s men and women alike. … Smith is especially strong with the women, from the robbed-of-power, pleading queens of the opening scene, to Hippolyta’s solidarity with them, to Emilia’s doubts and pressure from the complex role she has in the men’s conflict and survival, to a subplot involving an unnamed Jailer’s Daughter (Jenna Berk) who assists Palamon in his escape from prison and falls in love with him for her trouble. ... Her story flies forward, barreling towards its inevitable conclusion, and you never doubt for a second the complex arc of emotions played out by Berk, or the confidence with which Smith uses the storyline thematically. Between both shows, the Jailer’s Daughter is the best reason to visit these productions.”

-- John Dellaporta, DC Theatre Scene

 

Richard III

 

A production "where you can discover clarity of vision and superb talent flourishing under the mainstream radar. ... [Director Charlene V. Smith] captures the play’s rambunctiousness with a constant movement of cast members and scenes crowding one upon the other. ... [The production has] the most beautifully effective haunting I’ve ever seen, an example of how a visionary director and a cast playing in precise unison of voice and movement can do so much more with less. ... [The cast gives] their all in a small, bare space in the service of Shakespeare, unencumbered by a big-budget set, guided by a director with a vision as keen and a hand as sure as any in the business."

-- Eric Minton, Shakespeareances.com

 

A " jaunty production" with "crisp blocking and strong character acting." "Smith’s precise staging leaves audiences free to enjoy the writing, and the show’s clever ferris wheel of props and toys spotlights a host of minor characters with a lot of personality."

-- Robert Duffley, DC Theatre Scene

 

The Spanish Tragedy

 

"Beautiful, strange, and violent, "The Spanish Tragedy" is a feast of revenge. ... The troupe — anchored by David Dubov as the aggrieved Hieronimo and Brian Harrington Moors as the nefarious Lorenzo — meets the challenge, delivering the antique verses with skill. ... "Tragedy" conveys a timeless message: Revenge is a dish best not served."

-- Tim Follos, Express Night Out