Ruling prevents Shakespeare troupe’s eviction from Lansburgh Theatre

The Shakespeare Theatre Company lawyers called Tuesday an “enormous day” as the company won a preliminary injunction in its ongoing tenancy dispute with the Lansburgh Theatre.

Though the case proceeds in D.C. Superior Court, Judge John Ramsey Johnson ruled that for now the troupe cannot be evicted from its longtime home.

The dispute hinges on the nature of the relationship between the STC and the Lansburgh Theatre Inc., a not-for-profit entity established 20 years ago as the STC’s “supporting organization.”

LTI claims that millions in repairs are due soon to the theater space, which was donated for nonprofit use as the building was redeveloped more than 20 years ago, and thus recently proposed an annual rent increase from $70,000 to $480,000. The theater troupe counters that the nonprofit LTI is acting like a commercial landlord.

LTI moved earlier to evict the Shakespeare Theatre, a Tony-winning troupe that has operated in the Lansburgh since its opening. Testimony on Tuesday revealed that LTI conducted preliminary research into possible replacement tenants, reaching out to, among others, the Shubert Organization and the Washington Ballet.

Ramsey’s ruling also included provisions preventing LTI from “terminating” the troupe as its designated “supported organization.”

Further proceedings are set for Jan. 10.

First Post byline, 1992; covering theater for the Post since 1999. His book "American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice" will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.
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