The new Mead Center for American Theater marks a turning point for Arena Stage.
By Molly Smith, Arena Stage Director
The long-awaited moment has arrived – we are home. After 11 years of planning and two and a half years of construction, the new Mead Center for American Theater is open for business. We are thrilled to return to Southwest Washington, where Arena Stage’s rich, 60-year legacy is deeply rooted. The opening of the Mead Center is about much more than producing theater – it’s about bringing the cultural opportunities that can only come from the arts to an entire community.
Arena’s decision to move from its Southwest Washington, D.C. campus to a different location during the construction process was unheard of – no other theater has done that before. But for us, there were no other options. Through this transition time known as “Arena Restaged,” the Crystal City Theatre and the historic Lincoln Theatre on U St. graciously took us in. Those seasons featured some tremendous artistic successes, including three productions developed at Arena Stage that then moved to Broadway. Although transitions are always challenging, the loyalty and excitement that our audiences have shared with us over the past three years has been remarkable.
And now, we’re here, and the timing couldn’t be better – just in time to celebrate Arena Stage’s 60th anniversary in this breathtaking new center for American theater. For the first time in our history, all staff and artists will be under one roof. With strong casts for our inaugural productions that include actors Phylicia Rashad, Anna Deavere Smith, and E. Faye Butler, Arena’s diamond anniversary will be all the more sweet.
Arena Stage is honored to have support from the leaders of our nation and the nation’s capital in this momentous season. There could be no one better to help us celebrate Arena Stage’s new The new Mead Center for American Theater marks a turning point for Arena Stage and Washington performing arts home for American theater as Honorary Chairs of the inaugural season than President and First Lady Obama We are deeply grateful for their commitment to the arts in our country. Mayor Fenty, his wife Michelle, and all of the District’s officials have been immensely supportive throughout the past decade of this project. They recognize that our huge expansion is an exciting moment for the D.C. theater community and will reach many people over the decades to come. Our opening season back home would not be complete without them.
We are finally back, and we look forward to opening our doors to artists, audience members, and friends in the community. The Mead Center is a soaring building that recognizes the importance of American artists; it is a place for people to come from across the nation to share in the production, presentation, development, and study of the American tapestry. Welcome home.