In Washington, DC, noses are glued to grindstones. That’s the image. It’s a boring, wonky town. But Washington’s big secret (one that isn’t classified, anyway) is its vastly diverse, excellent, and thriving theater scene. Per capita, Washington theaters produce more plays annually than any city in the country except New York. The Washington area is home to large numbers of African Americans, immigrants from all over the world, and diplomats from nearly every country on the globe. The population of the area is also the most educated in the country. Washington-area theaters reflect this diversity and fine-tune their productions for smart, intense audiences who want to engage deeply with issues or badly need to be entertained.
The impressive mainstays of DC theater are well known — the Shakespeare Theater Company; the Kennedy Center; Woolly Mammoth, which produces world premieres and second and third runs of edgy, boundary-pushing plays; Arena, which is devoted to producing new and well-established American plays; and Studio Theater, with its three stages and broad appeal. But lesser known theaters are equal in quality, and part of the excitement of attending theater in DC is discovering them. Want to see a play? You have 82 professional producing theater organizations to choose from. If the streets of DC seem empty, open the door to any theater. The action is onstage. (Patricia Davis)