About Robert Michael Oliver

An educator, playwright, theatre artist, and poet, Robert Michael Oliver has lived an eclectic life since moving to Washington 30 years ago after earning his MFA in Directing from Virginia Tech. Co-founder of DC’s Sanctuary Theatre, Michael served as its artistic director through the early 1990s. He then worked at The New School of Northern Virginia as High School Director and Director of its theatre program. Now, with both his children independent, young adults, and after earning his doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland in 2005, he has recommitted himself to the arts. In 2010 he began the Sanctuary’s Performing Knowledge Project. Its one-man show, “Embodying Poe: Poetry in Performance,” which Michael wrote and performed, premiered at the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival. A long time participant in Washington’s theatre scene, he was delighted to be the Editor, DC Metro area for the Maryland Theatre Guide for a few years.

Top 5 Shows of the Week

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1. ‘Hair’ at Keegan Theatre When Hair first came to Washington in 1971, a dead downtown burst into life.  The anti-war counterculture was at its height, hungering for recognition by mainstream America, hankering to become mainstream America. Hair’s integrated cast, its rock/blues/African rhythms, its drug-laced, sex-laced, profanity-laced lyrics, and of course its flash of flesh and dissonant imagery were what […]

Theatre Review: ‘Tender Napalm’ at Signature Theatre

Laura C. Harris and Elan Zafir. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Lust.  War.  Sadism.  Love.  And Unicorns. What do you get when you gently push a hand grenade, with the pin yet pulled, into a…vulnerable body part? Some might call that a modern love story. What do you get when you disconnect your lover’s family jewels and flush them down the toilet? Others might call that a […]

Theatre Review: ‘Hair’ at Keegan Theatre

Inez Nassara  and cast. Photo by C Stanley Photography.

When Hair first came to Washington in 1971, a dead downtown burst into life.  The anti-war counterculture was at its height, hungering for recognition by mainstream America, hankering to become mainstream America.  Hair’s integrated cast, its rock/blues/African rhythms, its drug-laced, sex-laced, profanity-laced lyrics, and of course its flash of flesh and dissonant imagery were what so many DC […]

Theatre Review: ‘Harmsaga’ by The National Theatre of Iceland at the Kennedy Center’s 2014 International Theatre Festival

Snorri Engilbertsson and Elma Stephanía Agústsdórtir. Photo by EDDI.

The National Theatre of Iceland produces roughly 30 shows a year.  Of those 30, about 10 are new plays. One of those new plays, Harmsaga, by Icelander Mikael Torfason, has come to Washington as part of the Kennedy Center’s International Theatre Festival. A riveting, psychological exploration of a tortured marriage, Harmsaga depicts the lives of Ragnar and Sigrún—played […]

Theatre Review: ‘La Muerte y La Doncella’ (Death and the Maiden) by La Mafia Teatro at the Kennedy Center 2014 International Theater Festival

Antonia Zegars and Gerardo Escobar.  Photos courtesy of LA MAFIA Teatro.

Ariel Dorfman’s powerful La Muerte y La Doncella (Death and the Maiden), now playing at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre as part of their 2014 International Theatre Festival, tells the story of one woman’s vigilante justice, the abduction and trial of the government doctor who years earlier tortured and raped her. Yet, the story, set in […]

Theatre Review: ‘Rupert’ by the Melbourne Theatre Company at the Kennedy Center 2014 International Theater Festival

Bert LaBonte, Sean O'Shea and Guy Edmonds.  Photo by Jeff Busby.

We love the theatre.  We love going out to dinner at a nice restaurant.  We love going on vacation, to the beach, to the mountains, to a foreign country.  We love the pleasure of life and all its variety of experiences. We also love our families and friends.  We love connecting with other human beings, getting to […]

Top 5 Shows of the Week

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1.  ‘The Suit’ by France’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord at the Kennedy Center 2014 International Theater Festival Most of the theatre-going audience in the United States has a high level of privilege and, thus, little understanding of the life of the dispossessed, life under the yoke of racial oppression, or life under the strangle of […]

Theatre Review: ‘The Suit’ by France’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord at the Kennedy Center 2014 International Theater Festival

Nonhlanhla Kheswa. Photo by Johan Persson.

Most of the theatre-going audience in the United States has a high level of privilege and, thus, little understanding of the life of the dispossessed, life under the yoke of racial oppression, or life under the strangle of economic deprivation. Most of us do, however, no matter what our birth or economic circumstances know what it […]

Theatre Review: ‘Normal’ by Molotov Theatre Group at DCAC

Elizabeth Darby, Alex Zavistovich, and Brian McDermott. Photo by Kristin Jackman.

If you have ever wondered what your lover was thinking as he watched you getting ready for bed from across the room, or as he massaged your back with ever growing passion and sounds of animal intensity, then Molotov Theatre Group’s Normal, now playing at the District of Columbia Arts Center, is the show for you. See […]

Theatre Review: ‘Orlando’ by WSC Avant Bard at Theatre on the Run

Sara Barker (Orlando) and Mario Baldessari (Queen Elizabeth). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

There are at least three reasons you should venture out to see WSC Avant Bard’s new show, Orlando , now playing at Theatre On The Run.  First of all, great literature never fails to illuminate life even as it transforms it, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando , a beautiful narrative meditation on life, art, and–I daresay–soul is great literature.  Ms. Woolf, one […]

Top 5 Shows of the Week

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1.  ‘Pluto’ at Forum Theatre, Roundhouse Silver Spring In the 1920s, the founder of French Surrealism, André Breton, famously said: “The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.” Unfortunately, such aesthetically imagined acts have become all too commonplace in our society today and, although one can […]

Theatre Review: ‘Pluto’ at Forum Theatre, Roundhouse Silver Spring

Jennifer Mendenhall and Mark Halpern. Photo by Jati Lindsay.

In the 1920s, the founder of French Surrealism, André Breton, famously said: “The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.” Unfortunately, such aesthetically imagined acts have become all too commonplace in our society today and, although one can question the complete randomness of contemporary mass killings, […]

Through Lines: The Summit, Part 1 – the State of Washington Theatre

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This last Monday, February 17, The Mead Center for American Theatre at Arena Stage hosted the first evening of The Summit, a three-part discussion on theatre. The brainchild of Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage, these gatherings are meant to explore a wide range of theatrical topics. Smith enlisted the aid of Washington Post theatre critic […]

Theatre Review: ‘Happy Days’ by Cultural DC at Flashpoint, Mead Theatre Lab

Karen Lange (facing) and Christian Sullivan (back turned). Photo courtesy of CulturalDC.

Cultural DC’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days rings with youthful enthusiasm and skillful craftsman(woman)ship.  Karen Lange’s Winnie engages with verve despite being encased inside her mountain of sand, and Christian Sullivan’s all-but-not-there Willie makes his presence known with grunts, simple statements, and a final failed crawl to freedom (or love). Yet…? Of course, a quizzical “yet” […]