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Virginia native Brandon Carter says goodbye to American Shakespeare Center

Rebecca Barnabi
Courtesy of American Shakespeare Center.

After nearly four years of dedicated service, the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) announces the departure of Brandon Carter, Artistic Director. Carter, who made history as the first person of color to hold an executive position at ASC.

Carter served as ASC’s third artistic director and leaves a legacy of visionary leadership and groundbreaking initiatives.

“Serving as Artistic Director of the American Shakespeare Center has been a profound honor and a significant milestone in my early career. The Board of Trustees and I shared a clear objective, and I have fulfilled my role. Approaching the conclusion of my contract with ASC, I, alongside my beautiful family, made the thoughtful decision to transition back to my roots as an actor. I extend my heartfelt gratitude and continued support to ASC’s dedicated staff, ushers, talented artists, esteemed Board members, and the Shenandoah Valley. I’m proud of the work we have accomplished together,” Carter said.

Carter produced 32 productions, including two world premieres, a revival and the introduction of ASC’s first playwrights of color. He acted in residence for six years in 30 productions, notably portraying Prince Hal and King Henry in the “Henry IV” and “Henry V” cycle. Post-pandemic, he played a pivotal role in restoring equity relationships, attaining LORT-D status and guiding ASC to full-capacity seating. His leadership fostered groundbreaking programming initiatives, with more than 70 percent of staff and actors representing diverse communities. Carter revitalized key positions and introduced innovative concepts such as ASC’s 7-Actor rep, DEI Training, flexible workweeks, intimacy choreography and the revival of the Artist’s Renaissance Season.

“We have the greatest respect for Carter. He kept our lights burning brightly in a dark time, and he will always be an important part of our story. This leave-taking is a goodbye to that time, and a hello to a bright future for him and the ASC,” Kimberly West said on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the ASC.

Carter, a native Virginian, is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and holds a master’s from Penn State University. He is an original cast member, production manager and producer of Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root, which won the Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation Prize for its promotion of human rights. Carter is a former Artistic Associate with the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

“Carter’s leadership has been nothing short of inspirational, especially during such challenging times as the pandemic. His dedication and vision have been instrumental in not only ensuring the ASC’s survival but also in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization. Carter’s commitment to Shakespeare and the arts is truly commendable. His passion has not only enriched our understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare but have also fostered a more inclusive and vibrant artistic community,” Tynisha Willingham, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, said.

Vanessa Morosco, ASC Executive Director, highlighted that Carter’s “courageous artistic leadership has carried the ASC through a challenging time in our theater industry. His passion and unwavering commitment have been crucial in setting up the ASC for a brighter future. He will always be a welcome part of the ASC family, and we wish him every success in this next stage of his career.”

American Shakespeare Center is at 20 S. New Street, Staunton.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.