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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. 

Previously, 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 have been directing both of Shakespeare’s history tetralogies as audio productions. The resulting twenty-four episodes will be released in 2024.

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 served two years as co-chair of the IDEAA committee for the Shakespeare Theatre Association.


This summer I trained with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium and am appearing as Woman 1 in Women of Lockerbie with Seat of the Pants Productions, directed by Craig Joseph. My academic review of Trinity Rep's production of By the Queen was published by Shakespeare Bulletin last November. 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, published in April.

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