In April 2003, scarcely a year after opening its striking location in downtown Bethesda, the Round House Theatre christened another new stage.
Located next to the AFI's Silver Theatre in what Montgomery County officials hope will become a bustling arts and culture center, the Round House Theatre Silver Spring serves a different purpose. While the Bethesda theater will continue to host large, mainstage productions, the Silver Spring spot will present smaller, professional shows as well as productions that stem from the theater's education and outreach programs.
The new, $5 million-plus venue is billed as a black box theater. It is indeed: The intimate space is surrounded by black walls and accented with black curtains. It's designed as a flexible space and the variety of entrance options make it clear that no show here will ever be the same. With seating that accommodates 100 to 150 patrons, the configurations seem limitless; one can imagine a traditional theater setup just as easily as a show done in the round. The 20,000-square-foot building also contains dressing rooms, offices and classroom space.
The Round House Silver Spring may remind some of the theater's former home base on Bushey Drive. Though it's less claustrophobic than that space was, the new theater has the same back-to-basics, cozy vibe. That seems appropriate. As Round House continues to grow, the theater's mission -- to entertain and provoke -- hasn't changed.
-- Jen Chaney, April 16, 2003