New Century Theatre Company (NCTC) is changing directions. Darragh Kennan has chosen to step down from his leadership role as artistic director of the company to make room for new voices. NCTC has also chosen to leave its resident partnership status at 12th Ave. Arts. Washington Ensemble Theatre, another resident of 12th Ave. Arts, plans to stay in the space.
Kennan’s reasons for leaving the company are multi-faceted. “I’ve always loved being the artistic director of New Century, it’s a company that I helped found with friends and it’s been this incredible labor of love,” Kennan says. With two kids, a full-time job with the Seattle Rep, and a move to Vashon Island, transitioning out of his position felt natural. “I was seeing people that had their own vision and ambition of what they wanted the company to become [and] it just felt like the perfect time to step away.” The company has always spent a considerable amount of time in deep discussion when it comes to choosing programming, time that Kennan sees burgeoning leaders in the company having more of than he. “It’s not a mystery—they [new company members] want to be more thoughtful in their programming, they want to be more considerate in having more conversations and meeting more often and talk, and I was just like— that’s great, and you should do that,” Kennan says.
The decision to leave 12th Ave. Arts echoes that desire for more time, as well as flexibility. The structure of Black Box Operations, the non-profit that runs the theatre spaces at 12th Ave. Arts, requires planning a season months in advance, scheduling that NCTC no longer wants to be tied to. In general, the company wishes to be a “little bit more thoughtful about play first, then space,” Kennan says. This emphasis on “play first” may take the form of more site-specific work in the future, pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre. NCTC has continually valued making theatre that is relevant to the Seattle community, and taking this shift towards finding the most relevant site to be placing the story is an extension of that value and goal.
Samie Spring Detzer, artistic director of Washington Ensemble Theatre, says WET will miss working in the same building as NCTC. In comparison to NCTC, WET finds that they “ha[ve] always benefitted from having a central home. I don’t see us going anywhere else in the near future.”