Classical Theater: Snooze-fest or Flip-cup fun?

In order to celebrate the extraordinary list of classics, both straight up and reimagined, that anchor fully half the evenings in the latest edition of Great Evenings Out, we asked one of our favorite artistic directors and maestros of fun, Jessica Hansen, to give us her take on how to enjoy an evening of classical theatre.  

Classic coke, classic cars, classic rock…we know classic things are good, but why? Google defines classic as “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” In artistic forms, like movies, music, and theater, classics not only stand the test of time, but are stories that continue to resonate through the years. Stories that compel us to retell them, reinvent them, and reimagine them.

Washington has the classics in spades. We have resident and visiting ballet companies, symphonies, and of course, theatre. Classics of theatre can range from the Greek tragedies and Shakespeare to more modern classics, like Hedda Gabler, Waiting for Godot, or Angels in America. Hamilton is sure to be a classic, just give it a few years.

Washington is bursting with smart and creative theater makers; you can get your classics served up almost made-to-order. If you like your classics done the traditional way, find your way to the Shakespeare Theatre company, or the Folger Theater, connected to the Folger Library, which has the world’s largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare (although the Folger has been known to take a few fun risks, like Aaron Posner’s magic-filled A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

But if you think women in corsets and men in tights sounds like a snooze-fest, keep reading. Taffety Punk produces one Shakespeare play each year with an all-female cast. Shakespeare in the Pub and LiveArtDC are producing Shakespeare in bars: devised (usually a script that is formed by a group collaboration, rather than a playwright) and with audience-participation flip-cup competitions. Synetic creates silent versions of Shakespeare: acrobatic physical theatre, like “Cirque du Shakespeare,” if you will. Completely opposite to Synetic’s visual experience, Lean & Hungry creates audio-only versions of Shakespeare, to fire up your imagination. Exploring Washington’s classical theatre scene, you’ll find timeless tales told in many innovative ways.

So whether you’re looking for a formal night out complete with fancy clothes and velvet seats, or a night in jeans on a bar stool with a plastic cup of beer, or a theatre experience in the comfort of your own earbuds, Washington has your classics…traditionally and reimagined in every flavor. Try a few, and let us know what you like!

Jessica’s company, Lean & Hungry, has just completed its first season of podcasts, with a lively adaptation and discussion of Romeo & Juliet.  Learn more and give a listen at the L&H Website.

Great Evenings Out with Classics that we recommend as of this printing:

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