Human Race passes artistic leadership to Wells


Staff report

DAYTON — The Human Race Theatre Company Board of Trustees, the Artistic Director Search Committee and Executive Director, Kappy Kilburn, are pleased to announce the appointment of Emily N. Wells as The Human Race’s next Artistic Director. The Search Committee, comprised of artists, community leaders, Board members and Human Race staff voted unanimously to appoint Wells after a thorough nationwide search that began last summer.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are so excited that Emily N. Wells will be leading The Human Race as the next Artistic Director,” said Board Chair Jaresha Moore Smith. “Emily is an extraordinary artist, an advocate for inclusiveness and community engagement, and has a strong vision for The Human Race’s future while embracing the success of the past. We are excited to see the innovation, the artistry, and excellence she will bring to The Human Race both on stage and off.”

Emily N. Wells is an award-winning theatre director, creative producer and educator with over 25 years experience including a significant emphasis on new plays and musicals. Joining Human Race Theatre Company as the new Artistic Director realizes a dream come true for Emily, as the company’s mission echoes her own: to open the doors of art and creativity to all people through stories that reflect our shared humanity.

While a senior producer for Houston Grand Opera, Emily focused on community building through new work development of pieces with significance to the third-largest Metro in the U.S. Her role at HGO encompassed producing a vast scale of works, including the Telly Award-winning Star-cross’d opera web series. Emily will direct the 2023 HGO world premiere of Another City, a new opera that tells the true stories of un-housed Houstonians and those who aid them. She also served as guest director and adjunct faculty at Houston’s prestigious Rice University, and led several fundraising efforts for congenital heart disease.

Prior to living in Houston, Emily’s other directing credits include Gulfshore Playhouse, Circuit Playhouse, Theatreworks/USA among others. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Memphis, a BA in Theatre from Washington University in St. Louis, and is an SDC and AEA Member. In her early career, Emily stage managed on and off Broadway, regionally and on national tours – including a week for The Human Race’s production of Green Gables while in development in East Hampton during the summer of 2004.

Wells will join The Human Race staff remotely in January while she finishes some projects. After spending the last five and a half years in Houston, she looks forward to enjoying all four changing seasons in Dayton with her husband and daughter. She plans to be full-time by the beginning of March, when she and Kevin Moore, founding member and retiring Artistic Director, will spend time together making a seamless transition into the “next act” while finalizing the 2022-2023 Loft Theatre season.

Emily Wells will be the fourth Artistic Director in the company’s 35 years, following founding Artistic Director Suzy Bassani in 1986, who passed the torch to founding member Marsha Hanna in 1993. After Marsha’s untimely passing in 2011, founding Executive Director Kevin Moore became Artistic Director. Moore will officially leave the company in June, 2022.

The company is working on plans for several community introductions and engagement events with Emily and Kevin. Stay tuned.

The Human Race acknowledges its gratitude for the public and private support which makes these productions possible: Loft Season support: The Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation of The Dayton Foundation; Additional Season support: Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts; Organizational support: Culture Works, Montgomery County, Ohio Arts Council, The Shubert Foundation, Erma R. Catterton Trust Fund, The Virginia W. Kettering Foundation; Sustainability support: Anne F. Johnson, Steve and Lou Mason and Morris Home.

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