Lights Up at the Anacostia Playhouse

A look inside the confines of the Anacostia Playhouse. Photo: John Muller

Signage for the Anacostia Playhouse now hangs outside of 2020 Shannon Place SE, while inside the black box theater readies to stage its first season of productions.

The well-chronicled challenges that have faced Adele Robey and Julia Robey Christian as they have transitioned their theatre from H Street NE to Anacostia are not yet over.

“Our application for [tax-exempt] 501(c) 3 status has been in IRS limbo because of their backlog for almost a year,” Robey, CEO of the Anacostia Playhouse, told East of the River. “We can't apply for any grants and can't directly offer tax deductions. We are well over budget and well behind schedule due to so many unforeseen bumps in the road.”

Despite the fiscal challenges the show must go on. On August 16Theatre Alliance will open its inaugural production at the playhouse, presenting “Broke-ology,” a drama the New York Times described in 2009 as “about the strains eating away at the unity of a small, tight-knit black family in Kansas City, Kan.” Performances will run on Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm until September 8th. General admission tickets are $25 and $15 for seniors and students with valid ID. Performances are being supported with a $75,000 grant from theDC Commission on Arts and Humanities.

“We’re hoping this production starts a community dialogue,” said Colin Hovde, Artistic Director of Theatre Alliance. “Historically, Wards 7 and 8 have been underserved by the arts and we hope our productions, which are socially responsible, will be plays people will talk about.”

Compared to THEARC’s 400-seat proscenium theatre, which Hovde says can be challenging to fill, the configuration of the Anacostia Playhouse will allow for more intimate productions with seating for 99 to 150.

Following “Broke-ology,” John Johnson of Verbal Gymnastics will open a 2-week run of the monologue-based "I Am Anacostia.” Show dates in September are expected to be announced shortly.

As the theatre moves closer to completion more performances will be added in the coming months. “We are currently in negotiations with DC Black Theatre Festival to do some regular programming at the Playhouse,” said Julia Robey Christian, COO of the Anacostia Playhouse.

When asked about the vision of the playhouse, Robey says, “Right now I am thinking about the next 30 minutes, but in essence it's to provide a space that does creative, interesting, thought-provoking work and helps provide a basis for sound economic development. When we were on H Street [NE] we tried not to put restraints on our theater companies so that they could be as creative as possible. The result was some of the best small theater in town. What people could do in a little black room was breathtaking. I have no reason to believe this will be any different and really look forward to see what those who use the space come up with.”

To secure tickets for Theatre Alliance’s August 16 – September 8 production of “Broke-ology” visit or call (202) 241-2539

To donate to the Anacostia Playhouse visit send donations to Anacostia Playhouse, PO Box 15874 Washington, DC 20003.