The District of Columbia has always been known for being the political heart of the United States. Next comes the monuments, then the museums and, last but not least, cherry blossoms. The art and theater scene is rarely pointed out as a characterizing aspect of D.C. But for natives, we can know something that weekend visitors might not see: the D.C. art life is alive and welcoming to everybody.
Ganymede Arts is one of the small D.C. theater companies that make up the vibrant, diverse local arts community. It is a theater dedicated to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience according to the theater’s Web site. Past performances include “Never the Sinner,” a story about two young boys who try to grapple with what they’ve done and the feelings they have for each other, and “Tramps and Vamps,” a two-scene, two-act show about a lesbian who is chosen to be the feast of a vampire who needs the blood of a virgin to survive.
The venue is not afraid to shock, surprise and try something different. Bloggers for DC Theatre Scene often compliment the visual appeal of Ganymede’s shows, with its extravagant costume design and the intricate attention to detail. It’s evident that the staff at Ganymede Arts take pride in what they do.
The theater’s mission statement is “to provide high-quality, professional theatre and art that fosters social and cultural awareness of and for the GLBT community.” The theater’s shows bring to light the ups, downs, struggles and successes of being gay. Whether the viewer is gay or straight, Ganymede welcomes you into the art community.
In June of 2007, the theater decided to change its name from the Actor’s Theatre of Washington to better reflect its desire to be an artistic resource for the GLBT community. The staff and board decided upon Ganymede Arts, a name symbolic of both their art and their mission.
Ganymede is a figure from Greek mythology, and most well known as being one of the first references to homosexuality. Ganymede was a young male of great beauty whom Zeus desired as a lover. This symbolic change came at a time when the theater was self-sufficient enough to be able to better serve its purpose, according to a Ganymede press release.
“Not only are we here for the GLBT community, we are offering them something more that we’ve never had before,” Artistic Director Jeffrey Johnson said in the press release. “It shows more of a responsibility toward the community we serve. The options we have are now wide open.”
This season in Ganymede’s spring debut is “After the Garden: Edith Beale Live at Reno Sweeney.” The show, which recreates the cabaret life of Edith Beale, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ cousin, premieres tonight and will continue until March 29. More info is available on the theater company’s Web site - http://www.ganymedearts.org.