The opening follows more than a decade of planning and two-and-a-half years of construction. Dubbed the Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration, the festivities Oct. 23 (between 11:30 AM to 6 PM) will include performances, food and activities in seven venues including the Fichandler Stage, Kreeger Theater and Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, as well as an outdoor stage. Various theatrical performances and children's activities will occupy one of the rehearsal halls, the lobbies and the classroom.
Artistic director Molly Smith said in a statement, "It's good to be home in Southwest DC. The Homecoming Celebration is the first opportunity our community will have to fully experience the Mead Center for American Theater. As people walk through the glorious new center and experience and explore these spaces for the first time, I hope that all will feel they've found their artistic home with Arena Stage."
Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration
11:30 AM-6 PM
The outdoor stage will feature various performances from local artists, including tap dancers, choir singers and jazz musicians.
11:30 AM Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
12:30 PM The Universes, spoken word/slam poetry ensemble
1:30 PM "Glee" Battle of the Show Choirs
2:30 PM The Manzari Brothers, introduced by Charles Randolph-Wright
3:30 PM Yankton Sioux Drummers
4:30 PM Schlosberg Jazz Band
5:30 PM Grand Finale featuring the cast of Arena's upcoming Oklahoma!, Brad Oscar, Kate Baldwin, Matt Bogart and Alice Ripley Fichandler Stage
The Fichandler, Arena Stage's historic theatre-in-the-round, will feature excerpts from the upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
1:00 PM Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
2:00 PM Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
3:00 PM Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
4:00 PM Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
5:00 PM Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
The Kreeger, an intimate proscenium theatre, will present performances of artists from previous Arena Stage productions.
12:15 PM E. Faye Butler (Arena's The Women of Brewster Place)
1:15 PM Brad Oscar (Arena's Cabaret and Damn Yankees, Tony Award-nominee for The Producers)
2:15 PM Kate Baldwin (Arena's South Pacific, Tony Award-nominee for Finian's Rainbow)
3:15 PM Matt Bogart (Arena's Damn Yankees, Broadway's Jersey Boys)
4:15 PM Alice Ripley (Tony Award-winner for Arena's and Broadway's Next to Normal)
Arena Stage's newest theatre, the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, an oval-shaped intimate space built to support new and developing plays, will present conversations with prominent Arena Stage artists and staff.
12:30 PM Resident playwrights Karen Zacarías and Katori Hall read from their new projects. 1:30 PM Anna Deavere Smith discusses her new piece, Let Me Down Easy
2:30 PM Resident playwrights Lisa Kron and Amy Freed in conversation
with The Washington Post's Peter Marks
3:30 PM Playwright Marcus Gardley and members of the company of every tongue confess discuss the new play
4:30 PM Resident playwright and Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies director Charles Randolph-Wright reads from his new work
Rehearsal Hall B
This room will feature performances from Arena Stage's Community Engagement programs and prominent local performance companies.
12:15 PM Washington Improv Theater
1:15 PM Arena Stage's Voices of Now
2:15 PM Synetic Theater
3:15 PM Liz Lehrman Dance Exchange
4:15 PM Arena Stage's Student Playwrights Project
The Study, nestled between the glass curtain and Fichandler exterior wall, provides a clear view of the corner of 6th and Maine St., and will feature singing performances from past Arena Stage artists.
12:45 PM Nina Negri (3 Mo' Divas)
1:45 PM Bayla Whitten (Christmas Carol 1941)
2:45 PM Diego Prieto (Cabaret)
3:45 PM Nina Negri
4:45 PM Bayla Whitten
The classroom, where Community Engagement programs meet throughout the year, will provide a space geared to entertain children and for families to create memorable souvenirs to commemorate Arena Stage's homecoming and the day's festivities.
12:15-5:15 PM Children's Crafts and Activities
The cafe in the Mead Center, operated by José Andrés Catering with Ridgewells, will be open all day. In addition Design Cuisine and Salamander Hospitality, along with José Andrés Catering with Ridgewells, will set up various outdoor food vending locations during the celebration.
While The Mead Center for American Theater — designed by architect Bing Thom — was under construction, Arena Stage presented season productions in temporary locations in Crystal City and at the Lincoln Theatre on U St., NW. The planning and building of the Mead Center "has been a catalyst for community-wide revitalization in Southwest D.C. New restaurants and commercial retailers have already moved into the Southwest neighborhood."
General admission tickets are free, but are required to enter events in theatre spaces. Tickets will be available exclusively online beginning Oct. 8 at www.arenastage.org. Limited tickets will be available for day-of release outside the Mead Center at the Arena Stage visitor's center beginning at 10 AM.
An Opening Gala Celebration, as previously announced, will be Oct. 25. The Honorary Chairs are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Honorary Co-Chairs D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Fenty.
The Opening Gala is a black-tie event commemorating the inaugural season at the Mead Center featuring cocktails, dinner and an exclusive one-night-only performance by Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell.
The 2010-2011 inaugural season includes Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, directed by Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith; every tongue confess; Second Stage's production of Let Me Down Easy; The Arabian Nights; Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo; Ruined; and a special pre-Broadway world premiere of John Grisham's A Time to Kill. In addition, Arena Stage will present staged readings of the remaining 28 works by Edward Albee during The Edward Albee Festival, and will produce a national new play festival featuring the selections for the first round of the NEA New Play Development Program hosted by Arena Stage.
For more information on Arena Stage's 2010-2011 season and the most current Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration schedule, visit www.arenastage.org.