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Movers and Shakers: Founder of Tampa's Longest Running Theatre to Retire


Anna Brennen

(photo: Stageworks)

TAMPA – As Stageworks Theatre begins the second half of a triumphant celebration of its 30th season, Founder/Producing Artistic Director, Anna Brennen, winner of Tampa’s 2006 Artist of the Year Award, announces that she will retire at the end of 2013.

Brennen came to Tampa after a career in New York as an actor and playwright where she had studied with Sanford Meisner, but it was her years in London, working with Sir Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook, and Peter Hall that formed her sense of the power that can be exerted by theatre. She arrived in Tampa in 1979 with an unflinching vision, expressed in Stageworks’ mission, “to provide the highest quality professional theatre which respects, ignites and celebrates the human spirit while challenging the thresholds of intolerance and insensitivity.” In a field dominated by men, and in a region accustomed to populist programming, Brennen led Stageworks to break new ground. The company produced “volatile” plays championing themes for women, LGBT, religious minorities, and people of color. Brennen takes great pride in Stageworks’ development and production of new works by Florida playwrights and The Rainbow Tribe: nationally recognized, unparalleled educational outreach programs for the area’s most vulnerable and underserved youth at risk, seniors, and incarcerated juveniles. 

After decades as a “gypsy” company moving from venue to venue around central Tampa, Stageworks moved into an impressive new state-of-the-art theatre in Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District in 2011, thanks to the tireless efforts of Brennen, the board and its past Chair, Andrea Graham. 

Brennen announced that Associate Artistic Director, Karla Hartley will succeed her as Producing Artistic Director at the end of 2013. “Karla is ready to lead Stageworks to even greater heights over the next 30 years,” proclaims Brennen. Ms. Hartley, an award-winning artist whose proven versatility as a director, designer and actor has made her a “go-to” individual at professional theatres across Tampa Bay, has been collaborating with Brennen for years. 

Simone Barefield, in her capacity as Board President praises Brennen’s uncompromising standards and says “the Board is energized and excited about supporting Stageworks’ artists as Karla continues the legacy created by Anna Brennen.”


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