Seattle Children’s Theatre Announces Departure of Artistic Director Courtney Sale

The Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) Board of Trustees and Managing Director Kevin Malgesini announced today that Courtney Sale, Artistic Director, will step down from her role in February 2020 and assume the Nancy L. Donahue Artistic Director position at The Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, MA.  Sale will lead the production of seven new plays each season.

Through the development of numerous partnerships and new work specifically focused on building equity among SCT’s artists and programming, Sale’s leadership has enlivened the Theatre and propelled it towards its mission of providing all children access to professional theatre, with a focus on new works, and theatre education.

“Courtney has used her leadership and artistry as SCT’s Artistic Director to forge thoughtful new relationships with organizations and artists throughout our region, and has partnered with the board to expand our position as a national leader for theatre for young audiences,” said Laura Smith, SCT Board President. “It has been an exciting time in the history of our organization.”

In a recent report published by Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA), SCT leads the field in 2019/20 with nine SCT commissioned plays currently on stage at 15 theatres across the nation. Sale’s leadership has produced six SCT commissions and world premieres (Fire Station 7, The Lamp is the Moon, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: the Rock Experience, Ghosted, Above Between Below, Black Beauty) and brought international works such as Mr. Poppers Penguins and The Velveteen Rabbit to the mainstage.

Many of these works were developed through writers Sale commissioned including Idris Goodwin, Cheryl West, Allison Gregory, Karen Hartman, Trista Baldwin, Ramon Esquivel, and James Still—an effort to expand the portfolio of artists and position SCT as a platform for diverse voices to share their stories with youth in the region.

Of the 23 mainstage works produced throughout her tenure, 18 have been written or directed by women and/or persons of color, with three directed by Sale herself. Through her guidance, these productions have both embodied and emboldened inclusive storytelling, a passion of hers and a mission SCT will continue.

Sale’s passion reverberates throughout SCT—particularly where voices are amplified in productions like And in this Corner: Cassius Clay and The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559—and yet it is her work beyond the stage that has inspired staff to reimagine the profound impact SCT has on the community.

Most notable, the 2020-2021 season will mark the third year that the Theatre will collaborate with King County Juvenile Detention Facility, where SCT artists and educators bring readings of mainstage productions and theatre education to justice-involved youth, inspiring conversation, comradery and understanding through storytelling. Additionally, Sale’s artistic leadership ushered in SCT’s arts-based learning program (ABL), which travels Washington State, bringing new, relevant theatre works to middle and high school students at no cost to the school.

Carried out in partnership with Kaiser Permanente NW, ABL has allowed the Theatre to connect with 53,000 new young people since 2016, and supports SCT’s mission to make theatre accessible for young persons and families. Now in its second year, Ghosted, which supports conversation around mental health, depression and suicide, has expanded and is being produced by KP and their partners nationwide.


“It has been a privilege to serve SCT for the last three and half years. I am deeply proud of the Theatre’s continued commitment to new work, the robust community partnerships we fostered, and our movement toward a more equitable and inclusive organization."

—  Courtney Sale, outgoing Artistic Director of Seattle Children's Theatre

“It has been a privilege to serve SCT for the last three and half years. I am deeply proud of the Theatre’s continued commitment to new work, the robust community partnerships we fostered, and our movement toward a more equitable and inclusive organization. These efforts are the result of care and attention of the dynamo staff, the dedicated Board of Trustees, and our beloved community,” said Sale, reflecting on her tenure. “I will deeply miss all the generous folks here and I leave the organization with full confidence in its position to thrive in all of its artistic and education programs.”

Sale’s career move to the East Coast will see her become the first female to hold the position of Artistic Director at MRT, but her influence will continue through the 2020-2021 season that brings three SCT commissions and world premieres to stage.

“We wish Courtney much success during this new chapter in her career,” said Smith. “While we seek to hire an Interim Artistic Director, we are excited to continue collaborating with Managing Director Kevin Malgesini to complete our strategic plan, while working alongside a national search firm to find the next Artistic Director to see us through our 50th Anniversary and beyond.”