Detroit Repertory Theatre Taps Kendra Ann Flournoy as Managing Artistic Director

After 64 years, the founding artistic director and fiscal officer, Bruce Millan and Barbara Busby have passed the baton to fresh new leadership. Smith, a longtime DRT artist and staffer, began her training and succession of Millan back in 2018. This year, the theatre’s 65th anniversary, is Smith’s inaugural season in the role. Her first order of business was finding a leadership partner who would help reimagine the legendary theatre.

“The Detroit Rep has thrived for so long due to the collective artistic creation and support of many people. My predecessors, the founders of this Theatre, were a team. It was imperative that I too find a partner who knows the power of diversity-centered theatre, and that theatre can create and sustain community, uplift us, and inspire us to be better human beings. Kendra herself is an inspiration. She is an artist and an innovative leader, and I am honored to have her by my side as we move the Rep forward, together.”

Flournoy, a Detroit native, is a playwright, educator, and theatre administrator. Her plays have been staged in Kalamazoo, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Her work was featured in the 2019 50in50: Letters to Our Daughters showcase presented by The Billie Holiday Theatre and Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop.

Her play Behind Maceo’s Eyes was in The Black Lady Theatre’s 2019 Foundation: New Writings Series. Flournoy taught for six years in Kalamazoo, MI. While there, she co-founded Face Off Theatre Company, a theatre dedicated to providing thought-provoking Black theatre and professional development to local artists of color.

For three seasons, she worked at The Lark Theatre and collaborated with the artistic and operations teams. She served as director of alumni programs and oversaw three of the organization’s generative programs and also held the role of operations manager. Flournoy received her BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University.

“This is a full-circle moment for me. It’s a dream fulfilled to be back in my hometown doing what I love. I’m honored to have an opportunity to serve my city and work alongside Leah in shaping the next iteration of The Detroit Rep. I’m excited to help raise the visibility of this legendary theatre, an institution that fought to bring professional theatre and community service to the inner city. It means so much to ensure the growth and longevity of this theatre and to contribute to the revitalization of Detroit’s theatre scene.”

The Detroit Repertory Theatre was founded in 1957 and is Michigan’s longest-running, nonprofit, professional, union theatre. The 194-seat theatre produces four major productions a season giving 180 or more performances a year. As of 2019, Detroit Rep had a budget of approximately $500,000 providing jobs to skilled Detroit area actors and technicians, and maintaining its commitment to a
vital neighborhood in the heart of the city.

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