The Cliff Smith Award for Outstanding Direction was established in 1989.
Cliff Smith was a native of Pittsburg, where he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. He came to the Washington area in 1968. Cliff worked as an actor, director and designer with many of the area community theatres, including Cedar Lane Stage, Greenbelt Arts Center, Sandy Spring Theatre Group, Silver Spring Stage, Rockville Little Theatre, Rockville Musical Theatre and Prince Georges Little Theatre.
Cliff believed in taking chances. He maintained the integrity of the playwrite's vision while challenging the audience as well as the actors and crew he worked with. His shows were beautiful to see. He directed more than 60 productions and won many awards. His many theatre talents included designing sets, lights, costuming and poster art.
Throughout his life Cliff fought a rare form of Sickle Cell Anemia. Despite it's painful treatments, he rarely missed rehearsals or performances and was an inspiration to many area theatre people. Following his death in 1988, the Best Director Award was renamed in his honor.