Tysons, VA

Traveling Partners Ensemble is hosting an online festival of classic plays next week.

Located in Tysons Corner Center, the theater troupe works with kids and teens in the D.C. area. The festival will be streamed via Youtube with performances running from 3 p.m. until closing words at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 17.

“Ariadne’s Thread,” the first performance, will begin at 3:15 p.m. and is approximately 25 minutes long, according to a press release from the company. The piece recreates the Greek myth Theseus and Minotaur and involves all things gods, goddesses, epics and more. The company commissioned the play from Judy White, their playwright-in-residence, in 2013. 

“The Imaginary Invalid” will begin at 4 p.m. and is approximately 40 minutes long. This piece picks on hypocrisy within the medical profession and was written by French playwright Moliere. 

Finally, “The Tempest” will begin at 5 p.m. and is approximately an hour long. The company will bring to light Shakespeare’s tale about wild human nature while stranded on an island, and how characters how are very different come together to eventually achieve peace.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 each. 

In addition to the festival, the theater group is hosting two summer programs — one for fourth- to eighth-grade students and another for pre-college students — online.

People interested in joining the summer programming can participate in the next set of auditions via Zoom on July 11, according to the press release. 

Photo via Traveling Players Ensemble/Facebook

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(Updated 5:55 p.m.) Medieval pageant wagons inspired the “Drive-Thru Drama” production that kicks off this weekend in McLean.

Danielle Van Hook, The Alden’s director of Youth Theatre Programs, came up with the idea while in the middle of Zoom rehearsals for “Dorothy Meets Alice or the Wizard of Wonderland” in mid-May. The in-person show ended up getting cancelled, but Van Hook wanted to still find a way to bring theater to the community.

“I just started thinking, ‘What would have happened if this pandemic had happened in like the 1980s and we didn’t have this kind of virtual technology?'” she said.

Van Hook said her idea is a twist on the pageant wagons — instead of having the actors playing the scenes along a parade route, the audience goers are the people who move. During the production, the audience drives from stage to stage to watch actors deliver two- to three-minute monologues at fixed locations.

The Alden, which is a part of the McLean Community Center, is debuting the show “Small Change,” which was written and directed by Andrew Scott Zimmer.

“‘Small Change’ follows the travels of a $1 bill as it journeys through time and space, interacting with different people’s lives and leaving its mark on the world,” according to MCC. “Actors will perform one, cohesive story through short monologues at various stations in the center’s parking lot.”

Having the actors stand in parking spaces was the original idea before realizing that there are sections of trees and islands in the parking lot that could get converted into stages, Van Hook said. “Each little stage has its own kind of personality,” she added.

To limit person-to-person contact, the theater requires that audience members buy their tickets in advance. On show nights, audience members will be checked in by their cars’ license plates. Then, they will get an orientation from the front of house manager on what they can expect.

“He gives them a little bit of a rundown of the speed limit and how you know when you move on from the stage that you’re at to the next one,” she said.

In order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the actors will wear face shields and stay six feet away from the cars and other people outside.

Personal protective equipment is one of the many considerations Van Hook has had to take into consideration as the producer for the show.

“It’s been really interesting to sort of think about all of the little details and how we adapt it for this new style, and for me personally, it’s been sort of an exercise in like remembering why I like really loved making theater,” she said.

And of course, she’s hoping it doesn’t rain — or worse.

While all of the elements of theater — audience, actors and stage — are there, Van Hook said that the format changes the experience.

“One of the interesting things about this medium — and the same thing with Zoom — is that you can’t necessarily control how the audience is viewing the show,” she said, adding that the positions of people in the car will affect the view and sound.

“We’re recommending that if the audience is on the left side of the car that the right side windows are up, because it helps with the sound,” she said, adding that the actors are projecting their voices. Audience members will be able to follow along with large-print ADA script that they can print out ahead of time or read on their devices.

Even the size of the car and how close or far away from the ground it is will impact the audience.

The “Drive-Thru Drama” is also “much more intimate” than traditional theater, she said. “You kind of get a show that’s just for you.”

There’s also the trippy concept that it’s a communal experience that isn’t in-sync.

“There’s a couple of cars along the route at any given time. The same show is going on at the same time, but it’s at five or six different places in the show at the same exact moment. So there’s different audience members viewing the show from different moments in time, all at the same time,” she said.

A few weeks ago, the theater held auditions via Instagram. Now, dress rehearsals are wrapping up for the production.

The shows will run for two weekends — July 3-5 and July 10-12. While the shows run from 6-8 p.m., the shows are 30-minutes-long and the tickets give audience members time slots for when they can arrive.

“If they have a ticket for 6-6:15 p.m., they don’t have to be there at 6,” she said, adding that they are expecting some delays because they can only admit one car at a time. “Hopefully the longest somebody is waiting to get in is like 15 or so minutes.”

A limited number of tickets for the shows became available online two weeks before the opening.

Going forward, Van Hook hopes that the format can provide The Alden and other theaters more options, both for when the interior spaces are closed and for engaging with audiences differently.

“If you’re comfortable in your car, you can be comfortable in this style of theater, which I think is really cool and could definitely open some doors for people that just are uncomfortable in a theater-type space.”

Van Hook also said the format could work well for high school drama clubs that want to put on shows to fundraise. When the coronavirus risk lessens, she said she would like to see multiple actors on the stages, improv and even audience participation.

“Once we kind of figure out the flow, there’s a lot of ways that we could adapt it and change it each time and really to be surprising.”

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre announced today (Thursday) that it’s delaying its upcoming season until February and will focus on virtual class offerings this summer.

Until 2021 rolls around, 1st Stage will offer new online classes. The “Virtual Classroom” will feature six education courses taught by the theater’s staff:

  • July 13-Aug. 17: “Introduction to Playwriting” by family member Bob Bartlett
  • July 14-Aug. 18: “Beginning Scene Study” by Associate Artistic Director Deidra LaWan Starnes
  • July 15-Aug. 19: “A Director Prepares” by Artistic Director Alex Levy
  • July 17-Aug. 21: “Beginning Voice Training” by Casting Director Jane Margulies Kalbfeld
  • July 18-Aug. 22: “Approaches to Script Analysis” by Literary Manager Laura Esti Miller
  • July 19-Aug. 23: “Introduction to Improvisation” by Director of Engagement Heidi Fortune Picker

Instead of kicking off its 13th season later this year, the theater will wait until February. The new season will include three productions from February-May before the Logan Festival of Solo Performance, which was cancelled this summer, will return in July 2021.

The season is now scheduled to kick off with “The Waverly Gallery,” directed by Alex Levy and written by Kenneth Lonergan. Then in April, the theatre will show “The Nance,” directed by Nick Olcott and written by Douglas Carter Beane. “Mlima’s Tale,” directed by José Carrasquillo and written by Lynn Nottage, will be the season’s last production.

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Falls Church Eatery Facing Eviction — “The Falls Church location of Hot N Juicy Crawfish is staring down an eviction lawsuit filed on June 1… The governor of the commonwealth put a moratorium on evictions earlier this week, but it only applies to residential tenants. The family-run business now finds itself fighting for its future in the neighborhood.” [Washington City Paper]

Farmers Markets Are Back — The McLean Farmers Market opens today and the Vienna Farmers Market returns on Saturday. [Tysons Reporter]

It’s Almost Showtime — “Just last week, AMC Theatres said it had ‘substantial doubt’ that the company could keep operating if pandemic-related closures continued. However, the company announced Tuesday it expects to reopen almost all of its locations worldwide by mid-July.” [Patch]

Law Enforcement Legislation — “Lawmakers in Virginia will take up the issue of police reform when they meet in a special session later this summer. The legislature joins the growing ranks of jurisdictions in the Washington region that are planning on tackling an issue that has taken increased urgency in the wake of widespread national protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.” [DCist]

Test Backlog — “State health officials announced Monday that 13,000 test results backlogged at the health department will be added to data tables that are updated daily to reflect the number of COVID-19 tests and cases in the state. Staff had prioritized positive test results, according to the statement, so the backlog largely includes negative test results.” [Inside NoVa]

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Virtual Job Fair for Recent Grads Next Thursday — “Participants will be able to browse companies in the lobby, enter their booths, view open positions specifically curated for recent grads, and chat with HR representatives in real-time.” [Brazen Connect]

First Child Case in Va. of Syndrome Tied to COVID-19 — “The Fairfax Health District has confirmed a case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. This is the first case of MIS-C reported in Virginia.” [Inside NoVa]

N. Va.’s Reopening Date TBD — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday he has not decided whether Northern Virginia can enter Phase One of reopening on May 29… Northam said he is in daily communication with Northern Virginia government leaders and has set no timeline for making a decision.” [Inside NoVa]

Helen Hayes Awards Delayed to August — D.C.-area theater companies will have to wait until late August for the awards ceremony that will determine the winners. Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre received 18 nominations this year. [Broadway World, Tysons Reporter]

84 Falls Church Businesses Win Grant Funding — “The City of Falls Church Economic Development Authority (EDA) is proud to announce the winners of the EDA Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program. Each business will receive $2,000 to help with urgent expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [City of Falls Church]

Summer Camps Canceled — “The Fairfax County Park Authority and the county’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services have canceled 2020 summer camp programs due to the COVID-19 crisis.” [Tysons Reporter]

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Updated 6/1/2020 — Corrects dates for second set of live performances. 

COVID-19 precautions are affecting live performances, but The Alden in McLean has found a way to bring shows to people that is similar to drive-in movies.

“Drive-Thru Drama” is set to run for two weekends in July (July 3-5 and July 10-12) with shows from 6-8 p.m., according to a press release.

The theater, which is a part of the McLean Community Center, plans to hold auditions via Instagram submissions.

“Priority will be given to actors who live, go to school or work in the MCC tax district,” the press release said. “There are no age or gender requirements in the script, but all actors must be 14 years old or older.”

More from the press release:

“Drive-Thru Drama” is the brainchild of The Alden’s Director of Youth Theatre Programs Danielle Van Hook. “Like so many, I was missing live performance and knew there had to be a way to safely produce a non-virtual show,” said Van Hook. “Nothing replaces the feeling of sitting with your neighbors in The Alden, but I hope this helps bring a little respite away from the screens and returns a level of normalcy to people’s lives.”

The show will be the debut performance of “Small Change,” a play written and directed by Andrew Scott Zimmer. Commissioned by The Alden, “Small Change” follows the travels of a $1 bill as it journeys through time and space, interacting with different people’s lives and leaving its mark on the world. Actors will perform one, cohesive story through short monologues at various stations in the center’s parking lot. Audience members will be directed to drive the route from actor to actor…

The Alden is placing several safety precautions into place to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ COVID-19 guidelines such as requiring the actors to wear personal protective equipment and setting up the route so that actors are positioned six feet away from the cars and passengers.

People should note that performance dates could change based on Gov. Ralph Northam’s orders. A limited number of tickets for the shows will be available online two weeks before the opening.

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Only a few months after finding a permanent home in Tysons Corner Center, Traveling Players, a kids’ theater company in Tysons, is adapting to social distancing mandates caused by COVID-19.

Instead of temporarily shutting down its programming, the theater decided to go digital, according to a press release.

Though the upcoming shows, which included “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” have been postponed, the theater group is still hosting community activities.

“But just because performances have been postponed, it doesn’t mean that the fun has slowed down at Traveling Players Ensemble,” a press release said. “In keeping with the organization’s roots in the outdoors, they quickly began hosting weekly ‘campfire’ parties on Zoom to allow students, staffers and alumni to connect from all over the country.”

More information about the campfire parties can be found on Facebook.

Kids also have the opportunity to try out for the next set of productions put on by Traveling Players and take part in a virtual improv class.

The May Madness Improv program will take place every Wednesday in May, inviting kids along with their family members to create imaginary scenes, characters and storylines, the event page said. Registration is $60 for kids and $120 for a kid-parent pair.

“Students in grades 4-6 can play as a team with a parent or grandparent for some family fun, or kids in grades 6-12 can practice the fundamentals of short- and long-form improvisation,” the press release said.

For kids hoping to take part in future productions, auditions will take place on Saturday, May 2, through Zoom, the press release said. Parents can sign their kids up for a time slot online.

Along with the virtual get-togethers and tryouts, the organization previously hosted a digital spring break “acting intensive” from April 6-10 after hearing that kids were getting bored at home, according to the press release.

“Students in grades 6-12 met via Zoom for five hours a day over the course of a week,” the press release said.”In a lot of ways, Zoom class looked just like a studio class. The students would log on and get a chance to chat with their friends before classes started.”

As a non-profit, Traveling Players offers scholarships for families in need of assistance, its website said.

Photo via Traveling Players/Facebook

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre is starting a series for virtual meet and greets with the staff and performers, along with a peek at the creative process.

The theater announced the new series yesterday (Monday). Called “Community Conversations,” the series kicks off on Saturday, May 9.

Since the coronavirus pandemic prompted show cancellations, the theater has taken to social media to share videos of short performances.

The line-up for the series includes:

  • May 9: Meet the Staff
  • May 16: Artistic Directors in Conversation
  • May 23: Performers in Quarantine
  • May 30: How 1st Stage Develops New Work
  • June 6: The Life of a Solo Artist
  • June 13: Cultural Tysons

All of the conversations will take place at 2 p.m. EST on Zoom and will be posted on social media afterwards for people who couldn’t attend live, according to the theater.

People interested in joining, can register online for each conversation.

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After suspending its upcoming shows due to the coronavirus, 1st Stage Theatre now has new plans for how the show(s) will go on.

The theater announced on Thursday (April 9) that “A New Brain,” which was set to run March 26-April 19, will be the theater’s next production. New show dates have not been announced yet.

Meanwhile, “The Waverly Gallery,” which was originally going to be produced this spring, will now join the lineup for the 2020-2021 season.

“1st Stage will remain closed in compliance with federal, state, and local guidelines until it is safe to welcome audiences back to the theatre,” the press release said.

Later this year, audiences can expect the new season to kick off with “Mlima’s Tale” in September and then “The Rainmaker” in December.

In 2021, “The Waverly Gallery” will hit the stage in February, followed by “The Nance” in April and “The Phlebotomist” in May.

The theater is cancelling its Logan Festival of Solo Performance for this July, but said it plans for the festival to take place in 2021.

“We are very grateful to the Logan family for their continued friendship. They have pledged to continue their support for the festival and 1st Stage, and we are so appreciative,” Artistic Director Alex Levy said in the announcement.

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Movie theaters and performing arts venues in the Tysons area have shut down the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The temporary closures come on the heels of the White House recommending that gatherings with 10 people or more be avoided.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order “that allows law enforcement to enforce a ban that prohibits more than 10 patrons in places such as restaurants, fitness centers and theaters,” Inside NoVa reported.

The newly opened Showplace Icon (1667 Silver Hill Drive) in The Boro is now “temporarily closed until further notice,” according to its website.

Over at Tysons Corner Center, which is open with reduced hours, AMC Tysons Corner 16 “is temporarily closed in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines,” according to the AMC website.

“It will re-open when those guidelines allow,” the site said. “Please continue to check back here for updates.”

Yesterday, the Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District announced a temporary closure.

“The health and well-being of our guests and our theater teams is our top priority, and we believe that this step will be the most effective way to both retain that priority and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” says a note on the theater’s website.

The theater did not say when it plans to reopen.

Tickets bought in advance –either from Angelika or from a third-party vendor — for movie showtimes that won’t play due to the closure can be refunded.

Performing arts-goers will have to wait to watch their next play or concert in the Tysons area.

Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre announced yesterday that it’s suspending upcoming productions.

Plans for the theater’s upcoming production of “A New Brain,” which was set to run March 26-April 19, are uncertain at this point.

The Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center is closed until April 12.

Wolf Trap is postponing all of its performances, classes and events between March 13-31.

“We are working with the artists to reschedule their performances for future dates and will share that information as it becomes available,” according to Wolf Trap’s website. “All current tickets will be honored for the rescheduled performances.”

All of the public shows between now and April 3 are postponed at The State Theatre in Falls Church.

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