Arena Stage

Definition

Theater

  • An 800-seat theater in Washington, DC, at 6th Street and MaineAvenue, NW, designed by Harry Weese in 1961 as a theater-in-the-round.It was built with grants from several organizations (including theFord Foundation) and opened that year with a production of Brecht'sThe Caucasian Chalk Circle. The resident arena Stage Companyhas earned high praise for its productions of new US and Europeanworks, classic revivals, and musicals.

    The company was founded in Washington in 1950 by six peoplefrom George Washington University, including Professor Edward Mangumand Zelda Fichandler. The first season was presented in-the-roundat a cinema. Fichandler soon took over as the company's director andmanager, positions she still holds (sharing the latter post with herhusband, Thomas, since 1961).

    In 1956 the company transferred to an old brewery and remainedthere until its move to the Arena Stage. In 1970 a modified thruststage theater, the Kreeger Theatre, was added, and soonafterwards a cabaret, the Old Vat Room. These facilities were also hometo the radical community theater group Living Stage (1966 - 2002). A major remodelling of the theater began in 2008; thiswill leave the main stage and the Kreeger Theatre little altered whiledemolishing most of the backstage areas and replacing the old Vat Roomwith a new intimate theater, the Kogod Cradle.

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