A.d. takes leave of Schmeater

SEATTLE — One of Seattle’s leading fringe outfits lost its artistic director of six years Sept. 19 when Theater Schmeater’s Rob West announced his resignation.

Under West, “the Schmee,” as it’s affectionately called, became known as an incubator of new, topical plays — often with a darkly comic bent.

West first worked at Schmeater in 1999 as a sound designer and director. He assumed artistic leadership from Sheila Daniels in 2001. A year later he founded the Northwest Playwright Competition, which helped develop a number of stageworthy new works, including Yussef El Gindi’s dissection of the Patriot Act, “Back of the Throat.”

Other Schmeater highlights during West’s tenure: Josh Beerman’s “Miss America: A Fugue Born in 1969,” which took on the WTO riots, and Vincent Delaney’s “Kuwait,” which revisited Desert Storm.

West also produced novelist Denis Johnson’s three-part Cassandra Cycle, whose third installment — “Soul of a Whore” — recently opened to good notices here.

West leaves the theater on good terms. “This decision was not made lightly,” he said in a prepared statement. “My time with Theater Schmeater has been absolutely incredible.” He’ll step down Nov. 1, after which he plans to “get married and make a film.”

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