“We branded ourselves as H Street Playhouse because we were on H Street,” Robey said. “We want to define ourselves as part of the community where we are.”
It’s a choice that echoes the decision she and her late husband, Bruce, made in 2002 to christen their theater as the H Street Playhouse; at the time, H Street NE was such a dicey location, it didn’t even pop up as an option when people searched for directions online. “People would go to H Street Northwest and call us from the National Theatre saying, ‘Where are you?’ ” Robey recalled. “MapQuest, that many years ago, just wouldn’t believe anybody was going to Northeast.”
The Anacostia of 2012 is a far more vibrant, thriving community than H Street was 10 years ago, but Robey recognized that stigma — mostly concerning the inconvenience of crossing the river and worries about safety — remains.
“We thought about that in our conversations” about the name, she said. Although she sensed some people might be turned off by the mere mention of Anacostia, Robey said, the consensus was, “Well, that’s a shame if that’s what they do.”
On Tuesday, Robey signed a five-year lease with an option for a five-year renewal. Robey said she hopes to have open houses “as soon as it’s feasible, construction-wise.”
“If you do good work and that word gets around, and the people who work there . . . are excited about the place, they create a momentum that’s unstoppable,” she said. “That’s what we’re really excited about.”
comes to Folger
Michael Benz, the Georgetown alum playing Hamlet in the Shakespeare’s Globe touring production at the Folger Theatre, did not expect ever to be Hamlet.
No offense to Shakespeare or anything. It’s just that Benz really hated him in high school.
“I found reading Shakespeare impossible in high school,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I really didn’t like it. I never thought I’d end up doing it. . . . I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. And, unfortunately, what happened was . . . because I didn’t get it, I started to resent it a bit. . . . It wasn’t until I got it up on its feet and said it out loud [that] I realized: They’re scripts and not books. It’s meant to be spoken.”
And in this particular performance, it’s meant to be spoken very, very quickly.
The Globe is enjoying its Washington debut at the Folger with what is pitched as a smarter-better-faster-stronger version of “Hamlet.” The 21
2-hour production has an eight-person cast and was designed with touring in mind.
“I wanted to do a fleet version,” said Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s artistic director. “I’d be surprised if somebody pointed and said ‘This is missing,’ because there’s very little that we don’t cover. And part of the joy is you move quicker. You’re a leaner operation.”