Childsplay founder and artistic director David Saar announced in a press release on Wednesday, April 22, that he will retire at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Saar started the acclaimed professional children's theater company in 1977 as a graduate thesis project. Its aim has been to engage children with thought-provoking material presented in schools and onstage. Based at Tempe Center for the Arts, productions have dealt with such topics as the Holocaust and HIV. Both Saar and the company have won numerous awards and grants.
See also: Childsplay's The Color of Stars: A Moral Lesson Without the Pandering
Childsplay's board of trustees has named Dwayne Hartford as Saar's successor. Hartford has been with the company since 1990 and has performed in, written, and directed plays.
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"While nobody can replace David Saar, I am ready to be his successor, carrying on and expanding his original mission, while securing a place for professionally-created theatre in our rapidly changing world," Hartford writes in the announcement.
Hartford will work closely with Saar through the next season as Hartford prepares to take the reins. Once he does, Saar will move on to the role of artistic director emeritus.
"It is with absolute joy that I look back on the last four decades of strikingly original theatre. When I started Childsplay, I could never have imagined what it would become," Saar writes in the announcement. "One of the things I am most proud of is the home for artists that we have built. I am so pleased that one of those artists, Dwayne Hartford, will be leading Childsplay into the future. His vision, artistry and passion for the mission make him the ideal leader for the ensemble."