In his new role as artistic director of the Olney Theatre Center, Jason Loewith sees a lot of potential.
“I’m so fortunate to have found Olney Theatre Center at this moment, just days away from opening its 75th anniversary season,” said Loewith in a press release. “This is an organization with deep challenges and deeper potential. With the help of the DC theater community I’ve come to love, with the passion and talent of the Olney Theatre Center staff and with the wisdom and commitment of Managing Director Amy Marshall, all we can do is succeed. That’s going to pay benefits for the community around us, Montgomery County and the DC-Baltimore arts corridor.”
Loewith, 44, started Feb. 4.
He is executive director of the National New Play Network, an alliance of theaters that champions the development and production of new plays. He will work at Olney part time through the end of this month, when he will assume the position full-time.
Former Artistic Director Martin Platt resigned in December after seven months. Prior to Platt’s brief tenure, Jim Petosa had the position for 18 years.
Loewith said he walked in the Olney Theatre and fell in love with its spirit and history. He was in the Crawford House, where the administrative offices are and where the interns live.
“The interns were sitting around eating and watching a Redskins game,” he said in an interview. “I thought ‘how cool is this?’ There is a sense of mentorship and apprenticeship, which sadly is disappearing from our field with the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next.”
He said he was instantly drawn to the campus.
“The incredible facilities offer such an opportunity to present a great, spectacular, diverse amount of work,” Loewith said. “Musicals, outdoor Shakespeare, challenging new plays — there’s just so much potential here, so it is a perfect match for me.”
He has seen a musical on Olney’s new main stage and has watched a play in the Theatre Lab.
“I am so excited to learn that the Olney audience is up for such a variety of experiences,” Loewith said.
Because he has been in the D.C. area since 2009, “I knew of the Olney Theatre, but I didn’t know what it’s identity was, and I think other local theater professionals feel the same way,” Loewith said. “The challenge ahead is to rally all the constituents to buy into a new vision for the company, which leads us forward. There’s so much untapped passion to take us on that journey.”
Stepping into a season that someone else planned is challenging in many ways, he said.
“I and Olney both believe strongly in honoring the commitment to our artists, so we will rally to produce work with great artistic integrity, and will provide as much context to patrons while also planning feverishly our 2014 season,” Loewith said. “All I can say is that it will have a very different feel.”
Loewith has worked as an award-winning producer, director, and playwright in cities Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Marshall is thrilled to have Loewith join the Olney Theatre during this momentous anniversary year.
“I am excited about all he brings to the Theatre and look forward to working with him as we move into a new chapter at Olney,” she said in a press release.
Loewith said he is eager to get to know the Olney audience.
“I have always prided myself on building relationships with my audiences,” he said. “I’d love to hear from people and can be reached at Jason@olneytheatre.org.”