CONTACT Homepage - Kent Thompson

Kent ThompsonTheatre leader

“Kent Thompson is a man who builds things. He builds stories into plays and theatres into institutions.”

Playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder

Playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder

Artistic Director

In 30 years, Kent has:

  • Led two major LORT theatres
  • Produced nearly 300 productions, including 48 world premieres
  • Become a recognized leader in Equity, Diversity and Inclusions
  • Commissioned 60+ plays from emerging playwrights

Theatre Director

  • Acclaimed director of Shakespeare/classics and new plays
  • Known for directing large-scale, complex productions
  • Accomplished at directing in all stage configurations
  • Experience in wide variety of productions, genres and styles

Arts Consultant

  • Transition of theatre leadership and management
  • Strategic planning for growth
  • Development of artistic vision and sustainable revenue
  • New Initiatives: New plays, musicals, Immersive Theatre and nurturing new audiences
  • Executive coaching

Theatre Advocate

Kent helps theatre companies and professionals:

  • Raise their national profile through active participation in field service organizations and media
  • Develop the leadership skills required for industry, foundation board and committee service
  • Create and sustain funds that empower unique voices in American Theatre

Theatre Educator

Having led two major MFA training programs, Kent is:

  • a highly experienced instructor and program administrator
  • a leader of MFA programs committed to classical actor training, providing a strong base of approaches, methods, and transformative techniques, combined with expectations and practices of working within the professional theatre.

Why Kent Thompson is a Theatre Industry Leader

He increases audience engagement

While he served as Producing Artistic Director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the annual budget increased more than 117 percent, and geographic reach grew to attract audiences from 19 states. And in 12 years, Kent brought the Denver Center Theatre Company to new heights with the theatres running at 80+% of capacity, and due to audience demand, a second week of the Colorado New Play summit had to be added.

Kent with Theresa Rebeck.

“It’s no accident that Kent’s choice of writers represents underserved interests: women, ethnic minorities and plays of local interest. Is that calculated or common sense? I think it’s common sense and brilliant because I think common sense often is. The continuing discrepancy in the national numbers is just stupid and poor business at the same time. That’s why it was electrifying for me to hear Kent stand up two years ago and say, ‘It’s ridiculous that half the community is not being represented here in any meaningful way.’ That is what makes the scope of Kent’s vision not only ambitious, but intellectually ambitious.”

Theresa Rebeck

Award-winning playwright, television and film writer (Bernhardt/Hamlet, Smash)

He increases financial support

Kent’s drive to innovate, relentless pursuit of new community partners and commitment to promoting new plays, women and artists of color have won major grants from an array of foundations.

Kent with Jim Steinberg.

“Kent has always been a forward thinker and innovator. Seeing the need to help develop new audiences, he went to the Doris Duke Foundation and convinced them to fund a grant to look into innovative programs that might bring in younger audiences. This led to the Off-Center program and a major grant from the Wallace Foundation to bring it to reality. Today because of its success, this program is recognized as a leader in the field and looked to as a model.”

Jim Steinberg

The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust

He develops top talent

Kent created the Colorado New Play Summit and the Southern Writer’s Project, giving fresh, new voices to American theatre. His mentoring and conservatory work have nurtured the next generation of leaders and artists.

Kent with Robert Schenkkan.

“Kent Thompson’s creation of the Colorado New Play Summit has had a national impact for the Denver Center Theatre Company. He created the Women’s Voices Fund, which directly challenges the problem of parity in the American Theatre by supporting the commissioning and development of plays by women. And he created Off-Center, dedicated to creating the next generation of artists, audiences and theatrical performances. In short, Kent Thompson is one of the most visionary, successful and admired artistic directors in the country.”

Robert Schenkkan

Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright (All The Way, The Kentucky Cycle)

Kent has a great book out. You should read it.

American theatre is still catching up with Kent’s vision

Karen Zacarías

“Under Kent Thompson’s leadership, the DCPA Theatre Company has become nationally renowned for commissioning and producing vibrant, new stories that shed light on the stories often ignored by other theatres. Kent gave me, and so many other playwrights, the gift of opportunity and artistic support because he cares deeply about the role of the artist, as he cares deeply about his audience.”
Karen Zacarías, Helen Hayes Award winner (Just Like Us, Native Gardens, Destiny of Desire)

Kent Gash

“[Kent’s] hiring me [as associate artistic director] was so important to me because very few of us African American directors get opportunities to stage full-blown productions of the classics. He made sure I got to direct one Shakespeare every year as well as big musicals like ‘Godspell.’ Hiring actors and directors of color is a really exciting part of his legacy in Alabama.”

Kent Gash, Founding Director of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio on Broadway

Lauren Yee

“Kent Thompson is a masterful shepherd of new work with a genuine love for ambitious, diverse voices that rigorously interrogate the world we live in as well as move and inspire. He’s been a true and generous believer in my potential as an artist, and he’s provided critical support to me as well as countless others at key moments in our careers. I find his enthusiasm and storytelling spirit endlessly delightful.”

Lauren Yee, Horton Foote Prize winner (Cambodian Rock Band, The Great Leap)

Carl Cofield

Carl Cofield“There are few artistic leaders in the American theater with a more holistic and knowledgeable view than Kent Thompson. Artistic leader, theater advocate, educator are only a few of his titles. As the artistic director of two of the largest, most well-respected theatres in the country, Kent not only brought world-class theater to the regions, he cultivated valuable relationships between playwrights and the communities the theatres served. This is the benchmark of outstanding artistic leadership — how one uses the art to have meaningful conversations about the human condition within our communities. No one exemplifies this more than Kent Thompson.”

Carl Cofield, Associate Artistic Director, Classic Theatre of Harlem

“Terms like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are tossed around often in the arts, but finding artistic leaders truly willing to forgo tokenism and take the difficult steps needed to invite new voices into the theatre is more difficult than one would imagine.

Kent has been one of those rare people who not only opens doors for new voices, but he actively goes on the road in search of them. That’s what he did when he found me, a first-time black playwright whose debut work was running at a small black box theatre 1,000 miles away. Not only did he decide to produce my new piece at this theatre, but he took the daring double gamble of programming my unproven work in one of his larger theaters (600 seats) and commissioned me to write another new work. Kent’s actions showed me that the only thing stopping theatre leaders from making the dramatic changes the American theater needs to evolve … are themselves. And I am forever grateful that he showed so much faith in me at an early and important time in my own career.”

Kemp Powers
Oliver Award nominee (One Night in Miami)

Let's Start a Conversation

Call Kent at (303) 257-2385 or send him a message with the form below: