Zelda Fichandler, co-founder of Arena Stage, died this morning at her home in Washington, DC, of congestive heart failure. She was 91.
Arena Stage released the following statement:
“Arena Stage is deeply saddened to announce that visionary leader and pioneer of the regional theater movement Zelda Fichandler. She was co-founder and the first Artistic Director of Arena Stage. A public memorial service at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will be announced at a later time.
“Arena Stage was founded August 16, 1950 in Washington, D.C. by Zelda Fichandler, Tom Fichandler, and Edward Mangum. Zelda Fichandler dedicated her early career to the establishment of America’s resident theater movement. When she co-founded Arena Stage, there were few non-commercial theaters in the United States and fewer theaters committed to providing a full range of world-class drama to its community with a resident company of professional actors.
“Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage, added this: “Zelda Fichandler is the mother of us all in the American theater. It was her thinking as a seminal artist and architect of the not-for-profit resident theater that imagined resident theaters creating brilliant theater in our own communities. A revolutionary idea. Her thinking and her writing have forged the way we were created and the resident nature of our movement. She is irreplaceable but lives on in every single not-for-profit theater in America—now over 1,500 strong. Her legacy stretches from coast to coast.”
Upcoming: Look for Christopher Henley’s memorial tribute to Zelda Fichandler next week.