Translation: Moving day is coming.
The famed Tony Award-honored theatre — one of the major not-for-profit American resident companies to be founded in the second half of the 20th century — will break ground in January 2008, followed by two years of continuous on-site construction.
The planned construction period (2008-10) necessitates a move to temporary digs, bumping all late 2007 and spring 2008 shows to a temporary home in nearby Crystal City, VA — the Crystal Forum, a 460-seat venue roughly the same size as the Kreeger. The Forum is a five-minute drive from the current location in Southwest D.C.
Arena Stage is currently renovating the Forum to accommodate patrons and productions for the next two-and-a-half seasons while the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is being built. Crystal City will also house the Arena Stage administrative offices in a nearby building.
No shows will be presented at Arena's current two-venue home between 2008 and summer 2010. In order to allow for its traditional eight-show season, which cannot be accommodated in just one theatre, Arena Stage will have both a life at the Crystal Forum and "a substantial presence" at the Lincoln Theatre in Northwest DC.
Details on the programming at the Lincoln will be shared at a later date.
"Just as legions of theatregoers followed [founders] Zelda and Tom Fichandler from the Hippodrome to the Old Heurich Brewery before settling in Southwest DC, I trust our audiences will continue the adventure and travel with us to Crystal City while our new home is being built," Smith stated.
Arena Stage will begin productions in Crystal City with Ella starting Dec. 28, 2007, but does not anticipate changing any existing performance dates for the rest of the spring 2008 season except for The Mystery of Irma Vep (it'll now play June 6-July 13, 2008, at the Crystal Forum) and possibly Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway (dates to be announced).
Current ticket holders will be receiving information about their reservations and further information about Crystal City in the mail during November.
The newly dubbed Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will open for the 2010-11 season. The theatre has currently raised $104 million of its $125 million fundraising goal since the Next Stage Campaign was launched in 2002.
"We are so thrilled to be putting a shovel in the ground this January," stated Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith. "Arena and its remarkable artists and audience deserve this new complex, where all of our aspirations to be a center for the American theatre will soar. It is time to bring the Mead Center to life, and we are ready."
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is named in honor of life trustee Jaylee Mead and her husband and longtime Arena Stage trustee Gilbert Mead, who died in May, for their gift of $35 million to the campaign. The Meads' gift is the largest ever made to an American regional theatre.
The Center "will be a breathtaking expansion of the current campus, allowing Arena Stage to focus on the strengths of the two existing spaces — The Fichancher Stage and the Kreeger Theater — while reinventing the surrounding building and adding a 200-seat space dedicated to premiering American theatre, The Cradle."
As information changes and/or becomes available throughout the transition, Arena Stage plans to keep its website at www.arenastage.org updated with Frequently Asked Questions, directions and other relevant information.
Arena Stage will hold "Audience Forums" so that community and audience members may ask questions about the building, their tickets, the temporary home at Crystal City and more. These events 7 PM Oct. 29 and Nov. 6 in the Kreeger Theater — will include presentations about the design of the Mead Center and information about Crystal City. To RSVP your attendance, call (202) 488-3300 at least three days before the event of your choice.
For more information, visit www.arenastage.org.