The biggest promotional event in the D.C. theater community is back again this month, offering audiences behind-the-curtain access to local theatermakers and production companies, as well as discounted tickets to more than two dozen shows across the region. On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other members of her administration joined the theater community to help launch the event, the first time she’s done so on a public stage in years.
The programming kicks off with a free party at Arena Stage featuring food, drinks, panels, workshops, and performances from more than 40 local theaters. Other events include a bike ride, an outdoor concert, an exhibit celebrating the women of “Black Broadway,” and a walking tour focused on the contributions women have made to D.C.’s arts community (which is currently sold out but has a second date on the way).
There will be lots of surprises at the opening event and throughout the month, according to Amy Austin, president and CEO of Theatre Washington, which organizes the program. “Think sword fights,” Austin said on WAMU’s weekly arts segment, Get Out There.
An event at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center will give audiences a sneak preview of the “depth and range” showcased in the upcoming 2023-2024 theater season.
Much like the Restaurant Week that it’s modeled after, local government leaders view Theatre Week as an opportunity to lure locals and tourists back to entertainment venues as the city recovers from the pandemic.
Roughly $8.1 billion is tied to visitors coming to Washington and spending money, and theater is a major part of attracting those visitors, said Destination DC President and CEO Elliott Ferguson at the press event. And despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases this summer, Bowser remained positive about attracting people to downtown D.C., pointing to an increase in weekday Metro ridership and international visitors as evidence of numbers trending in the right direction.
“All the things that we want to happen for our downtown involve more people being there. And that includes workers; that includes shoppers and diners, theatergoers, special-event goers, and the like. What we have seen over the last several weeks is that energy returning,” Bowser said at the press conference. “All of the things that we want to make a vibrant downtown and, indeed, a vibrant city are trending in the right way.”
A number of local performers from the Ford’s Theatre production Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard, about Atlanta’s first Black mayor, spoke at the press conference about the transformative power of theater and the value of local audiences.
“D.C. audiences … They want to engage with the work, they want to be challenged, they are complex, intelligent, and curious,” said Something Moving performer Susan Rome. “They stay for talkbacks. They want to talk more about the experience.”
Added Theatre Washington’s Amy Austin: “Theater is about collaboration, it’s about empathy, and it’s about sharing collective space together. And Theatre Week shows how all of those things come together so beautifully.”
Source : DCIST