Zelda Fichandler, co-founder of Arena Stage, died July 29th 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 has died at the age of 91. 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. More than 65 later, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists, serving a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.
Molly Smith, Arena Stage Artistic Director, said: “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. Arthur Miller wrote in the preface to Arena’s 40th anniversary keepsake book (The Arena Adventure) that Arena was the makings of a national theater for the U.S. Without Zelda and Margo Jones and Nina Vance there would not be this robust American theater landscape. So, it was a vision like Zelda’s that could lead to a time where my vision at Arena for American work can thrive. She had a remarkable openness to new ideas and most of all, to always, always support the artist.”
Click HERE for Arena’s Stage’s “Remembering Zelda” page.