Actor’s Express named Nan Barnett its new executive director this week, capping a national search, and she’s already on the job. She fills the vacancy created when managing director Lara Smith moved to a similar position at Dad’s Garage Theater Company.
Barnett is the former managing director of Florida Stage in Palm Beach County, a company she co-founded and helped run for 24 years. It closed in 2011. She is known as a new play advocate, developer and producer, and has made a career of nurturing theater artists and the art they create.
Barnett has known Actor’s Express’ Artistic Director Freddie Ashley for about five years through the National New Play Network. She is a former president of the organization, which develops new works.
Her “executive director” title is new for the Express. It’s a nod to Barnett’s experience, Ashley said, and the fact that with a full-time staff of only four, she’ll be doing many things that don’t fit under the managing director umbrella.
Ashley describes her as “fiercely smart.”
Kate Warner, formerly of Theatrical Outfit and Dad’s Garage, and recently back from the Northeast, has been assisting the Express as interim managing producer. She and Barnett will overlap for several weeks to smooth the transition.
Barnett, a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, is well-known on the national scene. In addition to her work with NNPN, she’s been on committees and/or panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Alliance of Musical Theatres, the League of Resident Theatres, the Theatre Communications Group, the Shakespeare Theatre Association and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others.