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Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.: Theater

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)

Washington DC Theater: Theater Around Washington DC

Below are our Washington DC Theater recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, theater history and other points of interest in Washington DC Art.

African Continuum Theatre

African Continuum is the only professional black theatre company in the nation’s capital. It began in 1989 as a coalition to assist the various small black community theatres improve the quality and visibility of their work. In 1995, the coalition transitioned into a theatre company whose primary goal was to offer professional-caliber productions of plays that would entertain, enlighten, and educate general audiences from an African American prospective.

The theatre …more…

Arena Stage

There is rich variety in every Arena Stage season, which has just been expanded to include an incredibly ambitious 10 productions. Golden Age and contemporary musicals, new plays and classics, solo shows and intimate musical revues – everything has a place here.

The Mead Center for American Theater, opened in October 2010, has three stages. The Fichandler Stage is a 683 seat theatre-in-the-round; the Kreeger Theater is a 514 seat fan-shaped …more…

Folger Theatre

The Folger Theatre is a component of the Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art.

The theater annually offers a three-play season designed to forge strong connections with modern audiences while continuing the legacy of Shakespearean stagecraft.  In addition to the masterpieces …more…

Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theater is the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and Lincoln’s legacy is celebrated with a museum and educational programming, but that is only part of the story.  Since the theater reopened in 1968, it has become one of the most popular sites in the nation’s capital, attracting nearly one million visitors annually.

In recent years, the institution has renewed its commitment …more…

GALA Hispanic Theatre

One of the country’s leading Spanish-language theaters, GALA presents plays in Spanish and English and provides a diverse program of theater, poetry, music, and dance to a wide audience. The company has cultivated relationships with actors in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela, and a number of other Latin American countries while serving as a cultural focal point for the growing Hispanic …more…

Olney Theatre Center

Though it is located well outside the Beltway, the Olney Theatre Center is one of the premiere venues for theatrical productions and education in the Washington D.C. area.  It is one of two state theaters in Maryland, and occupies a 14-acre property that includes three stages, the Historic Stage, Mainstage, and Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab.  The Olney offers a full season of dramatic productions, from popular Broadway musicals to Off-Broadway plays …more…

Round House Theatre

The Round House Theatre produces plenty of new plays, but the company’s true love is the literary adaptation, as evidenced by its Helen Hayes Award-nominated Literary Works Project. Through this project, Round House has produced numerous stage versions of classics as varied as Camille and Crime and Punishment, adaptations of contemporary novels like A Prayer for Owen Meany, and both dramatic …more…

Shakespeare Theatre Company

Hailed as “one of the world’s three great Shakespearean theatres” by The Economist and as “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company” by The Wall Street Journal, STC won more than 50 Helen Hayes Awards in the 1990s and 2000s, including seven awards to artistic director Michael Kahn. The long list of notable actors who have appeared with the company includes Elizabeth Ashley, …more…

Signature Theatre

Few theaters have shown as much dedication to modern musical theater as Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theatre. The Signature first became known for its frequent and innovative productions of Stephen Sondheim musicals, going on to produce works by the celebrated “new guard” of musical theater writers that includes such notables as Adam Guettel and Michael John LaChiusa. Most Signature seasons …more…

The Studio Theatre

At this company’s four-theater performance complex, the accent is on contemporary works. Founded in 1978, The Studio Theatre has garnered praise for its productions of plays by Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Tom Stoppard, and Caryl Churchill, along with musicals ranging from March of the Falsettos to Caroline, or Change.

The Studio 2ndStage presents “edgy” fare that …more…

Theater J

A program of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, Theater J’s diverse body of work features thematically linked festivals, including its ongoing “Voices From a Changing Middle East” series. It has produced world premieres by such authors as Wendy Wasserstein, Richard Greenberg, Thomas Keneally, Robert Brustein, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ariel Dorfman, as well as works by Stefanie Zadravec, …more…

Washington Savoyards

The Washington Savoyards present comic and light opera, operetta, and musical theatre, mounting at least four Gilbert and Sullivan works each season. Committed to non-traditional casting, the company draws on D.C.’s pool of talented performing artists, and each production features a full, live orchestra.

The troupe was formed in 1972 as the Montgomery Savoyards by founding director Audrey Shipp, and productions …more…

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The brainchild of two young New York actors, Howard Shalwitz and Roger Brady, Wooly Mammoth opened in 1980 in a church hall near Metro Center. At a time when most regional theaters were producing only classics, tried-and-true hits, and recent New York successes, this company took risks, presenting works by Wallace Shawn, Harold Pinter, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Karel Capek, and other …more…