Although ending 17 years of service there in varying capacities, Devlin will join the non-profit’s board of directors and continue her involvement in growth and fund-raising activities, it added. The board said it intends to launch a search “soon” for a new executive director.
Devlin joined the organization during 2007, before its move to East High Street. “In 2014, she stepped into a leadership position following the exit of Steel River Playhouse’s founders Marta Kiesling and Deborah Stimson-Snow, the playhouse media release noted, and later dealt with a variety of challenges. They included the impact of the COVID pandemic on the building and its programs.
“For years, Leena has been the artistic, and operational, heart of Steel River Playhouse,” Scott Bentley, co-president of Steel River’s board, said. “Working more than full time on a part-time salary, she has collaborated with Steel River’s staff, performers, patrons, and donors to bring people together to enjoy productions on High Street.”
The board’s other co-president, Cathy Skitko, observed Devlin is “passionate about generating Steel River performances that are innovative, thought-provoking, beautifully re-imagined, and highly entertaining. She is equally focused on providing performance arts training to area youths, regardless of their backgrounds and family income levels.”
Devlin says she is particularly proud of her role as creator and owner of The Refinery Workshop at Steel River Playhouse, a project she originated in 2019. The Refinery sought submission of full-length, non-musical, unpublished, and previously unperformed plays. Competition to be part of the program resulted in more than 700 submissions of new works.
Of those, six ultimately were selected for workshops with a dramaturg, public readings, and, for the finalist, a full production in Steel River’s 2019-2020 season. The Refinery was put on hold during the pandemic and the theater’s subsequent recovery. Devlin anticipates reviving it while serving on the board.
Performing arts have been “a central part of Devlin’s life since childhood,” the playhouse reported. Her first theatrical experiences occurred at People’s Light in Malvern, in a summer camp much like what Steel River now provides in locally.
Devlin later attended Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester VA, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
In addition to overseeing theater operations, Devlin also directed several Steel River productions. They include “I and You,” “Fun Home,” and most recently “The Cake,” which will open Feb. 9 at the theater. She also has acted onstage, most recently during 2023 as the witch in “Into The Woods.”
Leena Devlin photos (top by John Daggett),
provided to Travels With The Post by Steel River Playhouse