After 35 years at the helm of a theater and acting school she built from scratch in a once blighted, now thriving city neighborhood, Joy Zinoman is doing what many thought she never would: Leave as artistic director of Studio Theatre.
Her departure from Studio -- a venture that grew from a tiny acting conservatory into a powerhouse complex of theaters occupying much of a block of 14th Street NW -- augurs one of the most significant changes in years at the top of a Washington performing arts organization. In a city notable for the stability of the leadership at its major theaters, many of which are still run by their founders, Zinoman's decision to step down is at once a stunning development, and the first sign that turnover at other major companies is inevitable.
Zinoman announced her retirement Wednesday evening at a gathering at the theater, attended by friends, family and colleagues. Her resignation is effective next Sept. 1, and though she plans to continue teaching at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory, she says she will not remain a member of Studio's board of trustees, or participate after that date in company decision-making. That responsibility is to fall to her successor, who will be recruited in a nationwide search conducted by an outside headhunting firm.