Here are some must-see theaters in the District for all students
While you’re making a ‘to-do’ list for when D.C. reopens, jot these theaters down
While D.C. is a well-known hub for politics and businesses, the District has an alive and thriving theater scene as well. While the coronavirus pandemic is still preventing theatres in D.C. from opening to their full capacity, students who are coming to D.C. for the first time or who are just entering the theater scene, should check out these venues as soon as they’re back to their original programming. Or, if you just cannot wait, log into their virtual summer programming.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company - 641 D St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, endearingly known as Woolly, is one of the most highly acclaimed theater companies in D.C. Woolly established its first permanent home in 2005, and since then, it has been a steady presence on D Street, a short walk from the Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro stop on the Red Line. Woolly has a reputation for playing a major role in the development of new productions. Some plays that have premiered in its space have gone on to be produced in over 200 theatres throughout the United States and other countries. Most recently, they held world premieres for Felonious Munk’s “Nothing to Lose (But our Chains),” Jen Silverman’s “Collective Rage” and Sheila Callaghan’s “Women Laughing Alone with Salad.”
For those who are looking to break into D.C.’s theater culture, Woolly is one of the best places to start. Prices can sometimes keep college students from engaging in activities that attract them the most, but Woolly has the perfect solution for those unable to pay a high price. Woolly occasionally has ticket accessibility programs that offer exclusive and informative programming to its audiences.
While Woolly’s near future is still unknown due to COVID-19 closures, it is currently participating in Play At Home, a micro-commissioning initiative meant to support artists and bring theater into people’s homes. Woolly has commissioned playwrights to write short plays meant to be read or performed in people’s homes, not on stage.
Anacostia Playhouse - 2020 Shannon Pl. SE, Washington, D.C. 20020
Anacostia Playhouse first opened in 2002 under the name H Street Playhouse before reopening under its current name in 2013. The Playhouse is in close proximity to Anacostia Park in Ward 8, and it’s dedicated to serving and bringing the arts to its local community. In fulfilling this mission, the Playhouse has partnered with local schools and opened its doors as a community space to host jazz concerts, fundraisers and community meetings.
Anacostia Playhouse is a great venue for incoming AU students to visit while they’re getting to know their new city. The District has more to it than just the center of the city and the monuments. To get a complete picture of their new city, incoming students should venture over to historic Anacostia, explore their Smithsonian Museum and catch an evening production at The Playhouse. This theater venue is a great incentive to get East of the Anacostia River and explore the District in full.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anacostia Playhouse had to cancel some of its productions for the spring and summer season, and it is conducting a deep cleaning of its theater space. The Playhouse is currently planning to open midsummer, and accepting donations on its website as it is experiencing financial hardships from cancelations.
Studio Theatre - 1501 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005
Studio Theatre has been bringing seminal contemporary works to its stage since 1978, and it has a history of premiering and later publishing new plays. It is located right in Logan Circle, less than a mile from the Farragut North Metro stop on the Red Line.
For students with a real passion for theater and the nuances of acting and dramaturgy, Studio is a great place to watch productions up close and in great detail. Studio offers its audiences intimacy, which is great for those looking for more emotional and moving experiences in its theater outings.
Studio has cancelled the remainder of its 2019-2020 season and has chosen only four plays to produce for its upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Studio is still bringing entertainment to its community. Starting June 25, it will put on a three-part virtual salon series meant to uplift Black creators and business owners and establish a sense of community through music and art.
GALA Hispanic Theatre - 3333 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Seated on 14th Street in the heart of Columbia Heights, GALA Hispanic Theatre is one of the only theaters to bring Spanish and English productions to D.C. GALA was founded in 1976 and, since 2005, it has acclaimed itself as the national center for Latino performing arts.
Surrounded by the flourishing area of Columbia Heights, GALA offers a unique theater experience to its audiences. Catching a production at GALA is a great weekend activity for students looking for a space to enjoy Hispanic-inspired art and drama. It is also perfect for new students in search of a night-out close to AU but outside of the Tenleytown bubble.
GALA has postponed and cancelled many upcoming productions, but it does have an new e-newsletter for subscribers called “GALA EN FAMILIA.” This online newsletter contains new performances and interviews featuring its artists every week.
Shakespeare Theatre Company - Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Shakespeare Theatre Company has been bringing the classics to D.C. for over three decades, and it is conveniently placed in the center of Washington near the Metro Center and Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro stops on F Street. It’s mission, as stated on its website, is “to bring to vibrant life groundbreaking, thought-provoking and eminently accessible classic theatre in a uniquely American style.”
For AU students with a deep love for the classics, from Euripides to Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare Theatre Company is the best venue to catch up on the latest productions of all the best evergreen plays in D.C. This theater company’s aim is to share and promote the legacy of classics with universal themes and enduring relevance. It is known to introduce modern reinterpretations of Shakespeare, such as an all male cast of “The Taming of the Shrew.” As it is in close proximity to the National Mall, it’s the perfect stop for an evening show after touring the monuments.
Shakespeare Theatre Company has adjusted to the city’s shutdown during the pandemic by hosting events such as a Virtual Mock Trial based on a topic from a Shakespeare classic, “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and virtual Camp Shakespeare sessions.
The Kennedy Center - 2700 F St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20566
The Kennedy Center was opened in the ‘70s as a living memorial to former President John F. Kennedy. While the Kennedy Center is no hidden gem and seems like a no-brainer visit, it’s worth adding to this list for its record of hosting highly acclaimed productions and free entertainment for the D.C. community.
At the Kennedy Center, students can watch Broadway productions as well as orchestra performances from the National Symphony in its Concert Hall. And, for students who cannot afford the pricier tickets, The Kennedy Center offers free events after 6 p.m. every day, making the art and talent it hosts accessible to all.
Due to the pandemic, The Kennedy Center’s in-person productions have been halted, but they have continued bringing art to the District’s community with a recurring program dubbed The Digital Stage. Through The Digital Stage, The Kennedy Center posts new videos of performances daily, bringing a dose of art and theater to your home.
This is a non-exhaustive list of some of D.C.’s best spaces for classic and contemporary theater. There are many other theaters to catch a performance around the District once D.C. fully reopens. In the meantime, remember to check in on these theaters’ recurring online programming.