Round House Theatre
It’s always been part of Round House Theatre’s mission to present plays that spark important community conversations. But when COVID-19 closed down the theater industry last year, Round House began using a new medium to express what everyone was going through. In July, the Bethesda theater debuted Homebound, a free 10-episode web series. Each 10-minute episode was written by a different local writer and featured actors from around the D.C. area who shot the installments at home. Themes addressed current events as they unfolded: quarantine and isolation, working from home and job loss, new technology issues (hello, Zoom!), and, as the summer went on, the country’s racial reckoning following George Floyd’s killing and the protests it inspired. Though Round House doesn’t have plans for another web series, the theater continued to adapt with innovative and interactive online presentations as the pandemic lasted into the fall and winter.
Adventure Theatre MTC
Similarly, Adventure Theatre MTC, the children’s theater in Glen Echo, kept to its mission of presenting diverse new voices and stories, but found new ways to do so. The theater held online readings of plays it had commissioned but never performed, and presented kid-friendly discussions on issues such as race and identity by actors and directors. The theater also took its closure as an opportunity to discover and develop new plays and playwrights, focusing on writers of color and LGBTQ artists. It also put out a call for writers to submit work for a series of Quarantine New Play Festival Readings, dubbed QFest. Over three iterations of QFest, shown in April, June and September, 93 playwrights created scripts that were read for online audiences, and Adventure Theatre commissioned at least six of those writers for future stage plays.