In addition to his administrative duties at Center Stage, Kwei-Armah says he expects to direct one play each year and to write one new work. But he grimaces when asked whether audiences can expect to see his newest offerings in the theater he heads.

"Center Stage should not be expected to green-light a production of a play just because I wrote it," he says.

In addition, he has already promised two dozen of Baltimore's small theater troupes that he will attend at least one of each of their shows in his first six months on the job.

It's no wonder that when Kwei-Armah is asked to identify his weaknesses, he says, "I can't organize my diary, and I don't always say no to things I should say no to."

By the time he leaves town Monday, Kwei-Armah will have convinced a lot of people that he can work magic, though he seems to have mixed feelings about that perception.

Why else would he express an awareness of the dangers of creating excessive expectations at the exact same moment that he nudges up the bar?

"I do not wish to be judged after the first 100 days," he says, drawing an implicit comparison between his administration and that of the president of the United States.

"After three years, it will be time to assess how I'm doing. I was going to say five years. But no — five years is too long."

He thinks about it for a minute.

"Toward the end of my second year," he says, "that's when you can start judging me."

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Age: 45

Job: Becomes Center Stage's Artistic Director on July 1.

Residence: Moving to Baltimore from London this summer.

Birthplace: London

Education: Bachelor's degree in African civilization, 1987, The Open University, London. Master's degree in classical narrative, 2001, The University of the Arts, London.

Other accomplishments: Author of several plays, including the award-winning, "Elmina's Kitchen." Has acted in two television shows that made him a celebrity in Britain. Released a pop album. Served as artistic director of the month-long World Festival of Black Arts in Senegal.

Family: Married, with three sons and a daughter aged 6 to 19.

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