You’ve been to the monuments 5,000 times with everyone from your roommate to your grandmother - now you need something new to do. You’re left cashless and uneducated in your dorm while Hollywood hordes its worthwhile flicks for Thanksgiving and your roommate tunes into yet another “Rush Hour” marathon on cable. What you don’t know is that D.C. has the fastest-growing theater community in the nation, with dozens of professional companies garnering attention from New York to San Francisco. Here is a guide to a handful of the best theaters in the District and tips on how to attend for cheap.
THE LATEST: Arena Stage is the source for the best of past and present American theater. Their 2008-2009 season kicks off with “Resurrection,” a world premiere from Obie award-winning writer and performer Daniel Beaty. The play, which won the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, looks at the identity of the black man in different stages of his life, as influenced by his culture and his history. The show opens on Aug. 29.
Coming up in September, Arena Stage has booked the one-character wonder Carrie Fisher, known to most as Princess Leia, in her one-woman show “Wishful Drinking.” Fisher takes aim at the world of Hollywood as she sees it.
LOCATIONS: Lincoln Theater, 1215 U St. N.W.; Arena Stage in Crystal City, 1800 S. Bell St. Arlington, Va.
METRO: U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (yellow and green lines); Crystal City (blue and yellow lines)
WEB SITE: http://www.arenastage.org
HOW TO HACK IT: Arena Stage sells a limited number of $10 tickets every week. If you miss out on that then you can make good on their 35 percent student discount.
Round House Theatre
THE LATEST: Located in downtown Bethesda, just a couple of Metro stops from AU, Round House predominantly features literary adaptations for the stage. A world premiere directed by Artistic Director Blake Edwards entitled “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” is coming up in September. Based on the novel by Julia Alvarez, the play follows the four Garcia sisters as they start their life anew in New York City in the 1960s.
Also of interest, the world premiere of “Alice,” an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” starting Nov. 26.
LOCATION: 4545 East West Highway, Bethesda, Md.
METRO: Bethesda (red line)
WEB SITE: http://www.roundhousetheatre.org
HOW TO HACK IT: Round House offers $25 tickets to patrons ages 25 and under, but the cheaper option is to find out when their pay-what-you-can performances are. Pay-what-you-cans are just as the name suggests. Round House offers two pay-what-you-can performances per show.
Shakespeare Theatre Company
THE LATEST: Offering up the masterpieces of classic theater, this big-production venue takes the dialogue off the page in fantastic ways. Their season premiere features the 10th-grade standard fare English lesson “Romeo and Juliet” starting Sept. 9 featuring an all male cast.
If Shakespeare makes you yawn but sex humor makes you laugh, Shakespeare Theatre will also present William Congreve’s restoration comedy “The Way of the World,” featuring famous D.C. actress Nancy Robinette, starting Sept. 30.
LOCATIONS: Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. N.W.; Sidney Harmon Hall, 610 F St. N.W.
METRO: Gallery Place-Chinatown (red, yellow and green lines)
WEB SITE: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org
HOW TO HACK IT: Shakespeare offers a bundle of discounts depending on when you want to see a show. $10 tickets are available to students during a new performance’s preview week. Later in the run, students can receive a 50 percent discount on tickets purchased within an hour before the start of the show. If you like to plan ahead a little more, then Shakespeare’s “35 and Under” program offers 20 pairs of $10 tickets to the first ten callers starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
THE LATEST: Classic verse not your thing? Perhaps lyrical verse strikes your fancy. Akin to the Kennedy Center and The National Theater but without the staggering prices, Signature Theatre is a great venue for affordable musical theater. Starting Aug. 26 is the premier of a new musical, “Ace,” about a 10-year-old who travels back in time to the skies of World War I and World War II. “Ace” is directed by Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer with music by Richard Oberacker.
Following “Ace,” is a production said to be reminiscent of “Sweeney Todd” entitled “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” The story delves into the hypocrisy of violence as its main character seeks revenge against the man that killed his cat.
LOCATION(S): 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.
METRO: Check http://www.wmata.com to figure out the best route by Metrobus and Metrorail
WEB SITE: http://www.sig-online.org
HOW TO HACK IT: Unfortunately, Signature only offers a rush ticket program to patrons an hour before the show. Rush tickets are $30. However, you can obtain less expensive offers by joining private half-price ticket organizations, some of which are free to join.
THE LATEST: The Studio Theatre is a highly professional venue featuring contemporary works that recently finished their off-Broadway runs in New York or which the theater premieres itself. This season features plays by some of the most important playwrights of the present and recent past, including Tom Stoppard, August Wilson and Athol Fugard. The season premieres with Fugard’s “The Road to Mecca,” directed by founding Artistic Director Joy Zinoman, about two women striving for artistic independence.
LOCATIONS: 1501 14th St., N.W.
METRO: Dupont Circle (red line)
WEB SITE: http://www.studiotheatre.org
HOW TO HACK IT: The Studio Theatre offers half-price tickets to full-time students one half hour before the show begins.
THE LATEST: Synetic Theater is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Seriously. Their plays are often dance adaptations of major works with the dialogue either entirely or predominantly removed. Add to that a bit of international flair and you’ve got the stylings of a completely original theatrical production. The ‘08-‘09 season features “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” based on the film believed by many to be the first modern horror. The story shows a series of murders connected to an unfortunate carnival hypnotist. The show starts Sept. 26. Synetic Theater performs in various locations around the city.
LOCATIONS: “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” takes place at Rosslyn Spectrum, 1611 N. Kent St., Arlington, Va.
METRO: Rosslyn (blue and orange lines)
WEB SITE: http://www.synetictheater.org
HOW TO HACK IT: Synetic Theater offers tickets for students ranging from $15 to $20 depending on the night.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre
THE LATEST: Woolly Mammoth Theatre is the most contemporary of contemporary theaters, choosing to invest primarily in new works. The upcoming ‘08-‘09 season features three world premieres including their season opener, “Maria/Stuart” about a dysfunctional family and the German-speaking, soda-hogging ghost that holds all their secrets. The show opens Aug. 18 and features D.C. staple Naomi Jacobson.
LOCATION(S): 641 D St. N.W.
METRO: Gallery Place-Chinatown (red, yellow and green lines)
WEB SITE: http://www.woollymammoth.net
HOW TO HACK IT: Woolly Mammoth offers pay-what-you-can performances during the preview week (the first week) of every show. Later in the run, you can purchase tickets for $15 using the “Patrons 25 and Under” program.