Have you noticed the creative promotions for theatreWeek in Metro stations around the area or in your newspaper this week and wondered what it was? Well, it’s nothing short of one of the biggest theater promotions ever held in our area, with an emphasis on showcasing the multitude of professional theaters in our area by creating countless opportunities for theater newbies and theater lovers alike. The weeklong event will be held from April 14-20 and is thanks to the efforts of a joint venture between theatreWashington, presenting sponsor The Washington Post and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
“People go to the theatre for any range of reasons. They also don’t go for a range of reasons, often because they just don’t know how affordable, how accessible, how diverse, and how compelling Washington theatre is,” Linda Levy, theatreWashington’s president & CEO, says. “We’re trying to break down those barriers. Live theatre has something for everyone. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. And, chances are, there’s one fairly close by.”
For those who might remember the theatreWeek of 2012—the first time one was held—this year’s event is going to be much different, and much bigger.
“That one was focused more on small events in different places, but this one is a unified campaign to promote Washington DC theater as a brand and specifically direct traffic to the theaters and what they are already doing,” says Jen Clements, communications & development manager for theatreWashington. “Something like this is necessary to draw attention to those who already love theater to those new to the region or new to the theater world; there really is something for everyone.”
“Most hear that and say, ‘Wow,’ even the regular theatergoers themselves,” Clements says. “This is an opportunity for them to step outside the theaters they normally frequent and look to some of the other theaters that maybe they haven’t explored.”
As a bonus to those making the rounds during theaterWeek, a special raffle will be held for anyone who sees three shows during the week and takes a photo with a Playbill and enters at theatreWashington’s website.
That goes for newbies too. The whole idea behind the event is to introduce the notion of making theater a part of one’s life and that it is affordable for everyone.
“Many people think it’s too expensive to go to the theater, but there are ‘pay what you can’ performances throughout town; special discounts for students, those in the military or other groups; and many theaters offer other promotions all the time,” Clements says. “Fear of the unknown is another barrier that might keep people from trying something, but we hope this week will remover the deterrents and people will try something outside their comfort zone and find they love it.”
Currently, 25 theaters will be taking part in theatreWeek, and that number is growing by the day.
The National Theater is doing day-long backstage tours and will hold an open house with coffee in their lobby throughout the week. The Kennedy Center will also hold complimentary guided tours at various times throughout theatreWeek.
Folger Theatre is offering discounted tickets to see the upcoming production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona staged by New York’s inventive and highly acclaimed Fiasco Theater.
“DC is an exciting and flourishing theater community with so many wonderful venues doing thrilling work,” says Peter Eramo, Jr., events publicity & marketing manager for Folger Shakespeare Library. “theatreWeek is yet another means to show the DC region and the theater world in general what fantastic theater there is going on in the nation’s capital.”
Many other theaters are offering discounts and this is a great chance to see wonderful productions like Arena Stage’s Camp David, Ford’ Theatre’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and MetroStage’s The Thousandth Night, to name a few.
Even those theaters without a production currently running are getting in on the act, with many offering discounts for productions to be staged later this spring and summer.
Washington Improv Theater is not only offering a discount on its Foundations of Improv class through theatreWeek, it’s also sponsoring two free workshops in conjunction with the event, held from 7-9 p.m. on April 18 and 19.
“These workshops can give anyone the chance to have a taste of the skills improvisers need to develop,” says Dan Miller, external relations director for the WIT. “theatreWeek is helping publicize all of the great work done by DC’s theater artists. There are all sorts of theater companies in DC and we’re happy to include our unique art form of unscripted theater in this event.”
The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is also providing a free workshop entitled “Creating Characters of the Commedia dell’Arte” with actor Ray Ficca, held at 7 p.m., April 17.
Families looking for something to do during spring week will also have some great theatrical opportunities. The Faction of Fools Theatre Company will present its “5th Annual Fools for All-Tales of Heros and Gyros” at 7 p.m., April 13; and the Folger Shakespeare Library will offer a Shakespeare in Action workshop for families from 9:30 a.m. to noon on April 19.
There are no shortages of talkbacks and meet the artists during theatreWeek, as many of the theaters in the area will put you up close and personal with the performers and production teams behind the shows.
Round House Theatre will have a post-show discussion following its 3 p.m. staging of Two Trains Running on April 13; MetroStage will offer a post-show discussion after its 7:30 p.m. performance of The Thousandth Night on April 16; and the Olney Theatre Center will have a talk after its 1:30 p.m. performance of Once on the Island on April 19.
Molly Winston, community outreach and creative director for Theater J, says the theater will be producing Golda’’s Balcony starring Tovah Feldshuh during theatreWeek and are providing a talkback and post-show discussion on April 16 with four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh and open caption performances at noon and 7:30 p.m. on April 17.
The Pointless Theatre will have a real treat for kids as it will hold a “Meet the Puppets of Sleeping Beauty: A Puppet Ballet” following its 8 p.m. performance on April 17 and its 2 p.m. show on April 19.
theatreWeek will culminate with the 30th Annual Helen Hayes Awards on April 21 at the National Building Museum.
“This is a celebration of all of theater in Washington and we will have a special audience-level ticket for $150, which is the lowest we have ever offered it for,” Clements says. “We want this to make the week even more special than it is and have the people who are theaters’ biggest supporters get to celebrate with the theater community.”
For more information, visit theatreWashington.org.
Participating theatres include:
Adventure Theatre MTC*
American Century Theater
Annapolis Shakespeare Company
Arcturus Theater Company
Compass Rose Theater
Constellation Theatre Company*
Faction of Fools Theatre Company*
GALA Hispanic Theatre
The Kennedy Center*
The National Theatre*
The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts
NextStop Theatre Company*
Olney Theatre Center
Round House Theatre*
Shakespeare Theatre Company*
Teatro de la Luna
Washington Improv Theater
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company*
Young Playwrights’ Theater*
* theatreWeek sponsoring theatres