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


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 […]

Through Lines: Thanksgiving Theatre and ‘Apple’ Pie

Ted van Griethuysen, Rick Foucheux, Kimberly Schraf, Jeremy Webb, and Sarah Marshall. Photo by Igor Dmitry.

For the press opening of The Apple Family Plays, a two-play repertory of Richard Nelson’s That Hopey Changey Thing and Sweet and Sad, Studio Theatre invited the audience to attend a dinner nestled within the 2+ hours between the shows.  The dinner, similar in form to the one shared by the Apple family in the two shows, was […]

Through Lines: The Light South Africa’s ‘Mies Julie’ Shines on the State of Washington’s Theatre Community

Thoko Ntshinga and Hilda Cronje. Photo by Rodger Bosch.

After experiencing Mies Julie, the South African production based on August Strindberg’s incredible drama and written and directed by the equally incredible Yael Farber, I returned home full of deep yearning. I had not attended the show as a reviewer for the Maryland Theatre Guide; Elliot Lane’s review is here.  I went simply as a theatre-goer […]

Through Lines: Theatrical Absurdum Infinitum Shutdown

Lulu (Casie Platt) and Mr. B (Vaughn Irving; designed by Matthew Pauli).
Photo provided by Imagination Stage.

As of Saturday, October 5, the US Government was still shutdown. · This, despite the fact that all government employees will now earn a pay check because our lawmakers deemed it so. · This, despite the fact that the Navy / Air Force football game will be played and televised nationally. · This, despite the […]

Through Lines: Forum Theatre’s ‘Forum for All’ — an experiment worth doing!

Forum Theatre Logo

I just found out about Forum Theatre’s new ”Forum For All” ticket policy, and I just had to write about it.  Essentially, Forum Theatre has decided to institute what amounts to a “Pay What You Want” approach to ticket sales, an approach that addresses Washington theatre’s most pressing problem–the high cost of tickets and the subsequent limiting […]

Through Lines: ‘They Call Me Q’ – Standing Apart, Standing Together

Qurrat Ann Kadwani

Of the 125 productions at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, 33 are solo performances. There are solo shows about dementia, about Robert F. Kennedy, and about what happens when you just say “yes.” Many have made the rounds of other Fringe Festivals; others are world premieres. For the producer of a solo show, it is […]

Through Lines: So You Thought the Fringe Festival Was Only for the Zanies?

Actor Stephen Mead.

To be sure, with a festival that has “Fringe” in the title, and with shows called Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 and Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk and Ok Stupid’s Secret Math Lab, no one would blame you for thinking that the Capital Fringe Festival was only for the off-the-wall twenty-somethings out to turn […]

Through Lines: Is the Capital Fringe Festival Really So ‘Fringe’ After All?


In Webster “Fringe” means “a : something that is marginal, additional, or secondary to some activity, process, or subject <a fringe sport> b : a group with marginal or extremist views” and c : a Theatre Festival happening in Washington, DC, and around the country and the world where producers with moderate-to-no-income come together to present a culturally democratic theatrical event. And DC’s non-juried theatrical […]

Through Lines: the Celebrity in All of Us?

Phyllis Diller.  Photo by Dan Callister.

In his seminal work, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, sociologist Erving Goffman uses theatre and performance as analogies to describe all our social interactions.  He argues, in essence, that we are actors, consciously or unconsciously performing our identities for and to others.  For different audiences, we no doubt assume different roles, responding like actors […]

Through Lines: What is the Community in Theatre?

Folks at the doors of Howard Theatre during its 2012 opening.

Whether we are discussing the ranks of the large professional theatres like the Shakespeare Theatre, or the mid-sized Regionals like Woolly Mammoth or Studio Theatre, or community theatres like the Little Theatre of Alexandria or Silver Spring Stage, what is most important about theatre has always been the community it supports and engenders.  That’s right!  […]

Through Lines: The Incredible Shrinking Ensemble: Is Solo Performance Theatre’s Future?

Kathleen Turner in Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of Red Hot Patriot The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.  Photo by Mark Gavin.

The 5-hour, 5-Act play with interludes has long since become a thing of the past. What Shakespeare’s audience could leisurely enjoy all afternoon would in today’s world be an extreme extravagance. The 3-Act play has become as rare as an all night performance of the Javanese Wayang (Shadow Puppets). We have had Peter Brook’s Mahabharata, […]

Through Lines: Enter Video Stage Right


As an editor of the Maryland Theatre Guide I have had the wonderful privilege of experiencing many theatrical productions over the last 6 months. So I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on one recurring theatrical motif this past Fall season: the presence of video on stage. From large theatres like the National […]

Through Lines: I’ve got a Barn. Let’s put on ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘The Nutcracker’ or…

Seymour Hicks as Scrooge in the 1913 film.

Now let me play the holiday season’s favorite character—Scrooge! That’s the bah humbug part, not the money grubbing, no time off for family and friends part, the part that asks: “Does Washington really need all of these Christmas shows? I mean—really?” It’s bad enough that TV has begun airing its traditional favorites from White Christmas […]

Through Lines: The Aesthetics of a Theatrical Dollar (or $100+ dollars)


Theatre critics never mention the cost of a ticket when we write our reviews, almost as if price doesn’t matter and the aesthetics of theatre operate independent of budget and cost. Maybe that’s because we critics don’t pay for tickets, so we never leave a show saying: “I just paid $102 for that! I’d have […]