(Artistic Director Bill Largess)
The Washington Stage Guild’s Silver Gala at the Historic Arts Club of Washington on June 25 presented a delicious menu of artists delivering readings from memorable scenes and a collection of “smart” lines from WSG’s top productions over the past 25 years.
The Guild began by reviving the performance tradition in 1986 at one of Washington’s oldest theatres, Historic Carroll Hall at 924 G Street, and in so doing provided a much needed forum for Washington audiences to see productions and hear words written by top playwrights and authors, ranging from George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot, Somerset Maugham, Brian Friel, and more.
(Steven Carpenter and Vincent Clark in a scene from Ferenc Molnar’s The Guardsman)
“Tonight we were honored to present the best of the best as part of our Silver anniversary,” said Bill Largess, WSG’s Producing Artistic Director, who previewed the selections of scenes and lines delivered that were taken from the WSG’s 25 years and about 100 (check number) productions.
“The man who returns will have to confront the boy who left,” from The Family Reunion by T.S. Eliot (2005).
“I understand you attract the police the way baklava draws flies,” from Checkhov at Yalta by Driver and Shadow (1988)
“If one could only teach the English how to talk and the Irish how to listen, Society would be quite bearable,” from Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde (1988 and 2007).
“No man is a match for any woman except with a poker and a pair of jobnailed boots.” Man & Superman by George Bernard Shaw (1998).
Since its founding in 1986 led by the late John MacDonald, Producing Artistic Director, the WSG has developed a reputation as a presenter of smart, witty productions, often including world premiers, and has received critical acclaim such as numerous Helen Hayes Nominations and Awards, Theatre Lobby Awards and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington’s Business Volunteers for the arts recognition award for outstanding artistic and management growth.
(Steven Carpenter, Jan DuPlain, Bill Largess, Judith Terra, Evelyn Woolston, and Morgan Duncan)
“The Washington Stage Guild led the way in the transformation of Washington into one of the top city’s in the world for the theatre,” said Judith Terra, Chair of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, who attended the Silver Gala.
Terra’s late husband, Daniel Terra served as U.S. Ambassador at Large for Cultural Affairs, a one-time only position created for him during the Reagan administration. Judith Terra recalled how Washington transformation into a major center for the Arts started taking place in the early 1980s, resulting in large part from people in the diplomatic community’s desire to have the arts, theatre, ballet added to Washington repertoire.
The Washington Stage Guild was among the early principals including the Shakespeare Theatre and Arena Stage led to the explosion of the theatre in Washington that is very apparent today.
During its 13 years at the G street location, it developed a reputation for presenting area premieres and long-overdue revivals of the sophisticated, thought-provoking work at which the company excels. Awards and acclaim for the company’s work have acknowledged its high quality, while audiences in the region have become devoted to the sophisticated, witty plays of ideas and argument the Stage Guild produces.
When the city lost Carroll Hall as a Downtown theatre, part of its cultural life for over 140 years, The Washington Stage Guild left Downtown and has spent the past eight years as a guest company, participating in the exciting rebirth of the 14th and U, NW area.
|The Washington Stage Guild now performs in The Undercroft Theatre, United Methodist Church at Mount Vernon Place a newly renovated historic performance space in downtown Washington, whose history and charm have been updated in a way that will be a perfect fit for our work. The theatre is in the imposing United Methodist Church at Mount Vernon Place, only blocks from Washington Stage Guild’s original home at Carroll Hall.|
“We’re now ready to start on our next Silver anniversary,” said Ann Norton, WSG’s executive director.
– Christine Shepherd
Photos by Anthony Tilghman & Christine Shepherd