The Washington Post

The Intriguing Developments of 2013 in D.C. Theater

Had it up to here with the best-of-everything lists in multiples of five, 10 and 100? In lieu of another shout-out to the great nights and another shout-down of the benighted, what follows is a breakdown of some of the particularly encouraging trends and especially intriguing events in Washington theater, over the past 12 months:

The cast of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. (Michael J. Lutch /National Theatre)

*The rebirth of the National Theatre. With the tryout run of “If/Then,” the presentation last month of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and the announcement that in spring 2015 it will host the tour of the Broadway hit “Newsies,” the historic National on Pennsylvania Avenue NW reasserts itself as a formidable alternative to the Kennedy Center for event musicals.

*A playhouse comes to Anacostia. Adele Robey decided to cross the Anacostia River with her theater dreams after the space she developed on H Street NE with her late husband Bruce was sold (it’s now going to be a CrossFit gym). Her Anacostia Playhouse is now up and running and bursting with dramatic potential.

Theater J grapples with the blowback from its upcoming “The Admission.” After protests materialized online by a pro-Israel group to a forthcoming Theater J production by a controversial Israeli playwright, the company downgraded the offering to a workshop and added a bio-play, “Golda’s Balcony,” to its season. The episode raises questions of artistic independence for a theater company operating as part of a larger community center.

The Welders. Washington playwrights take matters into their own hands and form a collective to stage their own works. It’s about time.

Theater in the close-in Maryland suburbs, on the rise. With energetic new leadership, Round House Theatre in Bethesda and Olney Theatre Center in Olney are making bold new efforts to enlarge Montgomery County’s footprint in the regional theater landscape.

These are but five of the developments that stood out. You have more to add?


Peter Marks joined the Washington Post as its chief theater critic in 2002. Prior to that he worked for nine years at the New York Times, on the culture, metropolitan and national desks, and spent about four years as its off-Broadway drama critic.



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Emily Yahr · January 6, 2014