Moxie’s new artistic chief is Desireé Clarke

Moxie Theatre's new artistic director Desireé Clarke.
(Courtesy of Moxie Theatre)

Desireé Clarke, a prolific actor, director and educator who moved to San Diego during the pandemic, has been named the new executive artistic director of Moxie Theatre.

Following a national search, the women-driven theater company in Rolando selected Clarke to “carry the flame” that was lit 18 years ago by four women theater artists: Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, Jennifer Eve Thorn, Jo Anne Glover and Liv Kellgren. Over the years, Kellgren, Glover and Turner Sonnenberg left the company to pursue other interests, while Thorn has carried on as executive artistic director for the past five years. She announced in November that’s she’s ready to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.

Clarke will begin working at Moxie this month alongside Thorn and will fully step into her new role in May.

In just 18 months, the Boston native found work at many San Diego County theaters, from Diversionary to the Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse

“Desireé embodies our mission, and her vision for where the company will go next has the whole team excited,” Thorn said. “I’m honored she’s chosen to lead this next chapter in Moxie’s history.”

Edith Benkov, Moxie’s board president-elect said that while the board was impressed with all the finalists for the position, “it was clear that Desireé would be a perfect fit for Moxie’s next phase, and (we) are so thrilled she agreed to lead it.”

And Dea Hurston, a longtime Moxie supporter and playwright who was involved in the interviewing process, said: “I was impressed with her plans to elevate the organization while staying true to its feminist mission.”

Clarke said she’s excited to be stepping into the job as Moxie “reaches her adult age of 18. Moxie is ready for her roaring ‘20s and it is an honor to guide her there.”

Clarke made her directorial debut at Moxie Theatre in 2022 with “Mother of the Maid,” which starred Thorn, who said she was able to see first-hand Clarke’s leadership style and approach to theater-making. Clarke will be directing the final production of Moxie’s 18th season, “The Chronicles of Kalki” next month.

Clarke, 35, was born in Boston and raised mostly in the Coachella Valley where she discovered theater in middle school and later co-founded a trauma-informed theater program where children and teens could turn their grief stories into theater pieces. Clarke just finished directing “Monsters of the American Cinema” at Diversionary Theatre and has worked for the past 18 months as a teaching artist for the Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse. She also understudied the lead role in the Old Globe’s 2022 production of “Trouble in Mind.”

Besides taking on the lead role at Moxie next month, Clarke will also get married to her fiancé, Jonathan Miller, and officially become a stepmom to his daughter, Isabelle.

In an interview with me earlier this year, Clarke talked about her passion for immersive theater and her desire to help diversity San Diego theater audiences. She also talked about her goal of running her own theater someday.

“Right now,” she said, “I would say the universe is guiding me toward this path of directing and exploring what artistic planning looks like, and I’m really enjoying that.”