The H Street Playhouse is relocating to 2020 Shannon Place SE in Anacostia.
In the face of escalating rent, H Street founder Adele Robey was forced out of the Northeast neighborhood she (and her husband, who died in 2009) had helped to revitalize.
Robey said she felt positive about the move before a news conference Monday, around the corner from the soon-to-be theater, which is now a warehouse. “For many reasons, it feels right,” she said, not the least of which is the serendipity of moving to the neighborhood where her husband, Bruce, was born and raised.
“We’re delighted to have a theater come to our area,” said Michael Rious, special assistant to D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). “We’re looking forward to it, the neighborhood is looking forward to it, and we think it will be a great benefit to Ward 8.”
Much about the new location, Robey said, is quite promising: The warehouse is larger than the H Street venue, there’s ample parking and easy access to public transportation, and the rent in Anacostia “is way less than the going rate on H Street.”
Although there is plenty of construction to be done, Robey plans to be ready for an open house by December and to have a show onstage by Feb. 1.
Whether patrons and the companies that have operated out of the H Street Playhouse will travel to Anacostia remains to be seen. “I think Anacostia, the name, has been hanging out a long time as something fearful, something people avoided. They didn’t want to come across the river,” Robey said. “Some will come, some won’t.”
No Rules Theatre Company has already signed on to be a resident company at Signature Theatre in Arlington for the next three years, a decision the troupe made months ago “when it sounded like H Street was going to close,” said Brian Sutow, co-artistic director of No Rules. “I see this as a really big step forward for us, and a step in the right direction.”
Along with the change in address, the H Street Playhouse will be changing its name. “If anybody has ideas,” Robey said. “Bring ’em on.”