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Posted at 4:35 PM ET, 06/27/2005

Washington Theater, Episode IV: A New Hope

By Jen Chaney

If you missed yesterday's paper, you should check out Peter Marks's Sunday Arts piece about the impressive original work that debuted on Washington area stages during the past season. While I didn't catch nearly as many plays as I wanted, I absolutely second the praise for "columbinus," an intense and unforgettable docudrama presented at Round House Theatre's Silver Spring venue earlier this year. Just proof that you don't have to hop a train to New York to catch new and worthwhile theater.

That's my view, anyway. What do you think? Do you agree with the article? Have you seen any original works that knocked your socks off this season? Which local theater does the most consistently impressive job of staging experimental selections? Post a comment below and let us know. Maybe you, too, can save another unsuspecting theatergoer from suffering through an evening of "Mamma Mia!"

-- Jen

By Jen Chaney  | June 27, 2005; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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Well, I'm a little biased, but Woolly Mammoth does works that either make me rant and rave with glee or put me to sleep for two hours.

I just saw Rorsharch's Behold! (which closed last weekend) and that was a truly astounding world premiere. Charter usually does good stuff, and Arena Stage's new play reading series downstairs is always fun. (Though I'm usually iffy on Arena's staged premieres) I'm also a big fan of Studio's Secondstage when I have the time and money.

Posted by: Christina | June 27, 2005 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Woolly Mammoth and Theater J of the DCJCC seem to work the hardest at bringing emotionally eviscive works to life. They certainly don't shy away from controversy. I find their work to be avant-garde in an unpretentious way (no marveling at silence for four hours as pantomimes mime slitging their wrists" shock aesthetics).

Posted by: Jolly Solightly | June 28, 2005 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Huh. Something seems to have happened to my previous comment. So, I'll state again, Peter Marks is a hack who doesn't attend enough local theatre to make an informed judgement about it.

Read his article again: it should be titled, "While Cleaning Out My Desk, I Happened Upon the Stack of Press Releases of Shows I Never Deigned to See."

I grant you, he clearly saw COLUMBINUS, but in paragraphs 4-7, and then picking up through the latter part of the piece, the content was obviously created with little more than a calendar, some theatre companies' websites, and the baseline knowledge that a play is "new". No yardstick is a better measure of a theater critic's ability than the lack of effort and consideration he gives to the shows he talks about.

What's astounding is that ALL the information he passes on was known at the BEGINNING of the season! Where was this article then? It's no good to anyone now!

The message to DC theatregoers is simply this: don't wait for Peter Marks to get out there and see shows next season before you see them yourself--you'll be left wishing you'd seen them.

Here's hoping the POST can get their money back for that article! Cheap, dumb, too little, too late.

Posted by: DCeiver | June 29, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Jeezy, for that matter, why on earth is GogBlog posting this NOW? Is this GOING Out Gurus or GONE Out Gurus?

Posted by: DCeiver | June 29, 2005 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Just a reminder to all of our readers: We love your comments, but please remember to keep them clean. Any obscene or quasi-obscene words have to be deleted, which is the reason DCeiver's previous post disappeared. Rant all you want, just make sure you do so using language that's fit to print. Thanks.

Posted by: Jen | June 30, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Marks's laziness is the real obscenity.

Posted by: DCeiver | June 30, 2005 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Marks's laziness is the real obscenity.

Posted by: DCeiver | June 30, 2005 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's a resource that will help you all a lot:

Follow the link, and you'll be able to view calendars of upcoming performances.

Here's some help with the concept of "upcoming." Basically, a show that is "upcoming" is a show that has not opened yet. It exists in what is called "the future" and, as such, you can suggest to people (like Peter Marks, who I hear accidentally wandered into Theatre J--no doubt lured by the title of the play CENTRAL PARK WEST/RIVERSIDE DRIVE and seeking to indulge do I say this without bringing "quasi-obscenity" to the vacant shores of the GogBlog..."engorged member for all things NYC") that they go and see these future shows. As opposed to waiting until said shows are finished to alert your reader to them.

Yes. Good. And I don't even charge tuition.

Posted by: DCeiver | July 1, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

If the DC theater community channeled the time we spend dissing Peter Marks into (continuing) to create great and interesting theater, we would have even more work worth raving about.

We need to tire of the topic, and soon.

In the meantime, it's great that you Jen and the gurus (and others -- DCist lately, and DCeiver always) are championing this cause in the blog community. I've been here three years, and have watched DC become much more of an arts-friendly and receptive town (despite, or perhaps in reaction to, the current administration). That's pretty exciting. In our darkest days the theater community can feel like we are simply performing for each other, and that completely defeats the purpose.

Keep watching, keep writing.

Posted by: DC Director | July 5, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Paul | July 6, 2005 7:29 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Improv Theater (WIT) is bringing many new projects to stage this fall at Flashpoint, beginning September 8, we will be running 2-3 shows every Friday and Saturday night through the end of the year.

Trying to expand the public's view of improv from "that stuff Drew Carey does," WIT has been pushing the envelope, not only in DC, but also at festivals in New York and Chicago that showcase the best of the best. Their shows will definitely change how you view improv, and most likely theater as well.

Posted by: reebox | August 8, 2005 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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