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Finding The American Voice: How Arena Stage Is Shaking Up Broadway

By   Posted 2.28.2018   Backstage, #ArenaStage, #DCTheater, #AmericanVoice

After a huge renovation a few years ago, Arena Stage in Southwest D.C. has ambitious plans for the future.

Arena Stage

WASHINGTON, DC — There's absolutely no mistaking that building on the corner of Maine and Sixth streets in Southwest D.C. And some very big things could be coming out of it in the coming years. Arena Stage certainly didn't look impressive when it first opened in 1950. Even 10 years ago it would be totally unrecognizable compared today, thanks to a massive $135 million renovation undertaken from 2008 until 2010.

Arena Stage's two theaters, the Fichandler Stage and Kreeger Theater, were left standing, but everything else was demolished. A huge structure was put up over top of those theaters, and a third theater — the Kogod Cradle — was added.

Even with the sudden explosion of brand new buildings along the Wharf right across the street, Arena Stage's architecture is unmistakable. Massive wooden beams hold aloft a gently curving roof, and an all-glass facade makes it almost like a museum display case, showcasing the original theaters as they once were decades ago.

Kogod Cradle

Walking into the lobby of this unique building when there isn't a show going on is almost like walking into a cathedral: a dignified quiet envelops you as you take in the enormous space and the long, circular ramps that lead to its individual theaters. The goal in designing Arena Stage was to create a sense of intimacy.

And you certainly get that sense when you walk into the theaters themselves. There aren't a lot of seats, so it's impossible to get a bad view. Even the largest stage, Fichandler, has just 680 seats. And the smallest, the new Kogod Cradle, has only 200 seats. The leadership of Arena Stage has no interest in massive, sprawling amphitheaters.

Click here for the full article published on by Dan Taylor on February 26, 2018.