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June 16, 2012

Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah on Queen's honors list

Kwame Kwei-Armah, the British-born playwright, director and actor who just wrapped up his first season as artistic director of Baltimore's Center Stage, has received an OBE -- Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire -- from Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen's Birthday Honors List for 2012, released Saturday, recognizes achievement and service in a variety of fields, from government and journalism to philanthropy and the arts.

Kwei-Armah's, whose plays have been produced in London's Wets End to considerable acclaim, received the OBE "for services to Drama."  He will be presented with the honor at Buckingham Palace later this year. (An OBE is a couple steps below the top honor of knighthood, so he will not be known as Sir Kwame.)

UPDATE: In a statement released Monday, Kwei-Armah said: "My mother came from a tiny village in a small island in the Caribbean. If she were here today on this announcement, I perceive that it may have validated much of the pain, suffering and self-sacrifice she, my father, and many other family members of the Windrush generation went through to give their children a shot of living what I would of course call the West Indian dream, but what is in fact, the immigrant’s dream.

"A dream that although far from complete, has made our country a warmer, more equitable place than it was when they first arrived on its shores. It is with this narrative at the forefront of my mind that I say I am truly humbled to have been given this award."

His plays include "Elmina's Kithcen" and "Let There Be Love," both of which were produced at Center Stage, where Kwei-Armah's latest work will be premiered next season.

He was named artistic director of the company in 2010, succeeding Irene Lewis.Among those from the arts and culture world on the 2012 Queens Birthday Honors List receiving knighthoods are ...

actor Kenneth Branagh, Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd, and opera director David McVicar.

Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet received a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Jean Marsh, co-creator of the beloved TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" received an OBE, as did English National Opera music director Edward Gardner.


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:27 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


Congrats Sir Kwame!....:-)

Remember, I said he would NOT be Sir Kwame. He has to climb a few more steps in the British pecking order for that title. But it's not to early to practice, I guess, just in case. TS

According to your article, Kwame has been artistic director of Center Stage for 11 years. Pretty impressive for someone who's been on the job for one year.

Doesn't anybody proof copy before going to press? Spellcheck doesn't substitute for an editor.

Doesn't anybody give an overworked, occasionally dyslexic journalist a break? Correction made to the blog. TS

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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