Round House Theatre Announces 2018-2019 Season And Capital Campaign

Round House Theatre Announces 2018-2019 Season And Capital Campaign

Artistic Director Ryan Rilette and Managing Director Ed Zakreski are thrilled to announce the five mainstage shows that will comprise Round House Theatre's 41st Season. This announcement comes on the heels of the launch of 'Full Circle,' a capital campaign that will expand the company's artistic and education programming, as well as make significant upgrades to the interior performance and public spaces at the company's theatre in Bethesda, Md.

Round House begins its 2018-2019 Season with Bess Wohl's Off-Broadway hit Small Mouth Sounds (August 29 - September 23, 2018), the first of two shows in the season directed by Rilette. The season continues with Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, How I Learned to Drive (October 10 - November 14, 2018), directed by Amber Paige McGuinness; followed by August Wilson's Gem of The Ocean (December 3 - 23, 2018), directed by Timothy Douglas, who returns to tackle Wilson's American Century Cycle after directing Two Trains Running in 2014. Round House's performance venue in Bethesda will close in January 2019 for renovations, moving the final two shows of the season to the Lansburgh Theatre in downtown Washington, DC. The season resumes in April 2019 when Rilette directs J.T. Rogers' multiple award-winning Oslo (April 24 - May 19, 2019). Closing the season, newly appointed Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson will helm her first show at Round House Theatre, Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2 (June 5 - 30, 2019). Please see pg. 3 for complete production details and subscription information.

On this new season, Rilette remarked, "This season represents everything that we strive for at Round House: a mixture of thrilling contemporary plays with resonant modern classics, taking you from comedy to tragedy to thriller and back again. It combines three of New York's most celebrated new plays with two of the best works in the modern canon. I love this season and can't wait to share it with Round House audiences!"

The aforementioned renovation-which aims to build an intimate and flexible performance space with a dynamic lobby-is projected to be complete in time for the company to launch the 2019-2020 Season there in the fall of 2019. In addition to remodeling, the other three major components of this campaign are to nurture new plays and to strengthen relationships with local artists; to train the next generation of theatre artists, audiences, and administrators; and to ground these initiatives in a foundation of financial security. Please see pg. 6 for complete campaign details and program information.

Managing Director Ed Zakreski says of the project, "Round House wants to be an incubator for great theatre and great actors. Through our new commissions and our investment in artists and ensemble, we are providing an exciting forum where artists can grow and do their best work. And we are doubling down on our efforts to nurture the artists, audiences and administrators of tomorrow. We are now at a watershed moment. It is time to elevate and intensify the commitment to outstanding ensemble acting and lifelong learning that has become the core of our success; in turn, strengthening our long-term artistic and financial health, breaking down the roadblocks to creativity, and creating an improved facility that better reflects who we are and where we are going."

Of the artistic initiatives, the ones with the most immediate community impact will be: Equal Play, a commissioning program that solidifies the company's commitment to diversity and parity by commissioning 30 new works by women and playwrights of color over 10 years; Fair Play, which will increase artist salaries across the board, making them competitive with the best-paying theatres in the region; and the establishment of a Resident Artist program that builds upon Round House's long-standing mission to support of ensemble acting and lifelong learning. The first four resident artists have been selected, and will serve over the next two seasons at Round House: actors Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and Craig Wallace; scenic designer Paige Hathaway; and costume designer Ivania Stack.

Additional programming that already exists, but will be bolstered by the Campaign, includes Free Play, a program to underwrite free tickets to Round House performances for teenage through college students; an expanded intern and apprentice program that offers professional training and development to recent high school and college graduates; and The Teen Performance Company, a pre-professional development program that culminates in the presentation of the fully-staged production of the annual Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, which is directed, designed, stage managed, and performed by the teens. The Full Circle Campaign will ensure increased financial support and newly-commissioned plays for the Teen Performance Company. Ten of the 30 commissioned works in the Equal Play initiative will be exclusively for the Teen Performance Company, and will focus on timely and relevant content impacting teenagers. Hear Eye Stand, a world-premiere from DC-area playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings, will mark the second of these commissions, which will be presented from March 15-17, 2019 at Imagination Stage while the theatre is under renovation. Details about the show will be released as they become available.



By Bess Wohl
Directed by Ryan Rilette
Round House Theatre

AUG 29 - SEPT 23, 2018

"The sound of silence onstage has rarely made such sweet music ... a play that leaves you moved, refreshed and, yes, maybe even a little enlightened." - The New York Times

Artistic Director Ryan Rilette opens Round House's 41st season with a remarkable theatrical experience. A weeklong silent retreat in the woods proves to be anything but tranquil for six restless souls in search of enlightenment. Guided by the disembodied voice of an increasingly unhinged guru, the group struggles to find relevance in their own intentions. As the week progresses, they discover inner peace isn't all that peaceful, especially when you're spending most of your time trying to relate to the people around you ... or avoiding the threat of bears. Played with equal parts humor and tenderness, Small Mouth Sounds examines all the aching, awkward, and awesome ways humans break barriers in order to connect with each other.


By Paula Vogel
Directed by Amber Paige McGinnis
Round House Theatre

OCT 10 - NOV 4, 2018

"Wryly objective and deeply empathetic; angry and compassionate; light-handed and devastating ... a lovely, harrowing guide to the crippling persistence of one woman's memories." - The New York Times

Paula Vogel's chronicle of one woman's journey to break the cycle-and silence-of sexual abuse is a heartbreaking, sardonic, and uncomfortably funny exploration of the complicated relationships between victims, offenders, and enablers. Li'l Bit's "education" at the hands of her Uncle Peck began when she was just 11 years old. As an adult survivor, she takes the stage to unravel the tangled roadmap of emotions and memories that paved the way for her to reclaim her narrative. Amber Paige McGinnis makes her Round House directorial debut with one of the most resonantly powerful plays in the modern American canon, with a message that is still all too relevant in this pivotal #MeToo moment in our history.

August Wilson'S

Directed by Timothy Douglas
Round House Theatre
NOV 28 - DEC 23, 2018

"[Gem] exhorts us to meet the responsibility of truth that citizenship demands - a message that has only grown in urgency since Wilson wrote this grandly ambitious, devastatingly moving play." - LA Times

As turmoil swirls in Pittsburgh's Hill District over a tragedy at the local mill, the "American Century" dawns in Aunt Ester's kitchen when Citizen Barlow arrives to have his soul cleansed by the venerable, 285-year-old soothsayer. Neighborhood personalities mesh and collide as the household prepares for his mystical quest. But with the scars left by the Civil War still fresh, one man's redemption could mean the end of the uneasy calm holding this African-American community together. This first chapter of August Wilson's monumental play cycle, directed by Timothy Douglas (August Wilson's Two Trains Running), challenges us to examine our notions of "freedom" in a country where the end of slavery opened the door to more insidious systems of oppression.


By J. T. Rogers
Directed by Ryan Rilette
Lansburgh Theatre
APR 24 - MAY 19, 2019

"Let us consider the extraordinary achievement of "Oslo," hands down the best new play of the season. Creating riveting drama out of the intransigence of implacable enemies is no modest trick, but darned if [Rogers] doesn't pull it off, and grandly." -The Washington Post

In 1993, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, an audacious husband-and-wife team of Norwegian bureaucrats assembled a motley band of would-be diplomats from the Middle East to attempt the unimaginable: negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine. Operating only through back-channels-in secrecy, and without any official bargaining power-the group struggles to find middle ground as political tensions reach a fever pitch. But at the heart of diplomacy lies empathy, and these peacemakers must rely on the strength of the surprising personal bonds they have forged if they want to succeed. Based on the true events surrounding the Oslo Peace Accords, Artistic Director Ryan Rilette helms this thrilling nail-biter, which swept the 2016-2017 awards season.


By Lucas Hnath
Directed by Nicole A. Watson

Lansburgh Theatre

JUN 5 - JUN 30, 2019

"The breakthrough play that the theater world has been waiting for ... a playwright's provocative, funny and, ultimately, generous consideration of the implications of Nora's actions." -The Washington Post

When last we saw Nora Helmer, she left her husband Torvald-and audiences-with the slam of a door that became a feminist battle cry. Now, 15 years later, Nora knocks on that same door in search of closure... except the reactions of those she left behind are not quite what she anticipated. That's the funny thing about the end of relationships, though: hindsight isn't necessarily 20/20 if you don't stick around for the aftermath. Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson shares her artistic vision with Round House audiences for the first time, directing this clever and sharp sequel to Ibsen's 1879 masterpiece that opens up old wounds with fresh insight, unexpected humor, and modern sensibility.


Subscriptions to Round House Theatre's 2018-2019 Season are now available online, via phone, or in person at Round House's Box Office in Bethesda, Md. Subscribers get the best seats on their preferred night, as well as free ticket exchanges, no single ticket fees, and free unlimited coffee.

For more information about subscriptions, visit or call the Round House Box Office at 240.644.1100.


The Full Circle campaign will raise $14 million to fund ambitious artistic initiatives at Round House Theatre while enhancing the comfort and experience of our audience. Complete information on the campaign can be found at This campaign has four goals:


The Full Circle campaign establishes an historic commissioning program to magnify the voices of under-represented playwrights, while investing in the ensemble-based theatre that is at Round House's core. In amplifying the theatre's national presence while remaining committed to local talent, Round House aims to become a transformative force in American theatre.

Equal Play

The Equal Play commissioning program is a natural evolution of Round House's ongoing commitment to gender parity and racial diversity. Over the next decade, Equal Play will commission and develop 30 new plays written exclusively by women playwrights and playwrights of color, including ten plays for the Teen Performance Company. Round House will use this program to combat the pervasive inequality in American theatre while supporting plays that speak to the world's most pressing issues.

Fair Play

Round House's recent artistic successes have been built on the generosity of artists-actors, designers, stage managers, and directors-who accept salaries below what they are worth. The Fair Play program will focus on building artist loyalty with an across-the-board salary increase that is competitive with the largest theatres in the market. This salary structure will also help attract top international talent to work with local artists.

Resident Artists

Round House's new Resident Artist program will deepen the relationship with key artists through two-year residencies that guarantees each artist work on four productions, while engaging them in teaching, season planning, and donor cultivation. These actors and designers will become part of the Round House team, working year-round rather than on a per show basis-providing much needed job security.

Resident Artists, 2018-2020

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Actor

"It's a kind of dream for any artist to be offered an opportunity such as this. It's more than just an on-going commitment to the work, it's a commitment and a challenge to myself, to learn and grow with a whole organization at my back pushing me to succeed. It's symbiotic in nature; our success is a shared one. "

Paige Hathaway, Scenic Designer

"I could not be more excited about joining Round House as a resident artist. I am filled with anticipation for the work that we are going to be doing together this coming season. Not only are the scripts themselves fantastic, but the team at Round House is also endlessly supportive, talented, and they constantly strive for greatness."

Ivania Stack, Costume Designer

"I'm honored and thrilled to be part of the Resident Artist program. Having been part of The Teen Performance Company Program for the past few years and a designer for several Round House shows, I've seen firsthand and loved the many ways in which this organization has invested in a multigenerational community of artists. I believe this new program goes even further to strengthen this collaborative circle, and provides artists with even more agency and opportunities to invest back into this incredible community."

Craig Wallace, Actor

"I can't wait! Ryan and his team have so many incredible plans for the future of Round House Theatre and I'm excited to be a part of it."


Lifelong learning is a fundamental part of Round House's mission. The Full Circle campaign will boost underwriting for the acclaimed Play It Forward initiative by 50%. These three programs foster the theatre artists, audiences, and administrators of the future.

Free Play

Round House believes in the importance of building audiences for the future. This program provides teenagers and college students with free Round House tickets-any play, any time. Free Play removes financial obstacles while nurturing an interest in live professional theatre. Designated Teen and College Nights encourage young patrons to come with friends to see a production and socialize with artists after the show. Each year, nearly a thousand students see Round House productions for free as part of this program.

The Teen Performance Company

The Teen Performance Company is a pre-professional program for the next generation of theatre artists. Competitively chosen high school students gain behind-the-scenes access to Round House productions, attend master classes with Round House company members, and are mentored by professional artists and theatre practitioners as they bring a professional production to the stage. The program culminates in the Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, which is directed, designed, stage managed, and performed by our teens. Under Equal Play, ten plays will be commissioned for our Teen Performance Company, allowing them to work alongside a living playwright to develop and produce a new play.

Interns and Apprenticeships

Round House internships and apprenticeships give high school and recent college graduates hands-on experience in the fields of arts administration, development, education, marketing, and production. Each season, Round House welcomes more than two-dozen interns and apprentices.


Round House will undergo a full interior renovation, creating an adaptable performance space while transforming the lobby into a warm and welcoming area where audience members can gather to discuss the show and engage in the important conversations that the productions generate.

The theatre will undergo renovations beginning in January 2019 and are scheduled to be complete in time for the first production of our 2019-2020 season. The first three shows of the 2018-2019 Season will be at Round House in Bethesda. Construction will begin in January 2019. At that time, the theatre will be closed and the last two shows of the 2018-2019 season, Oslo and A Doll's House, Part 2 will be produced at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, DC.

Some of the most significant upgrades include:

  • New rear and side walls in the theatre specifically engineered to improve acoustics
  • Curved stage and seating shape to improve sightlines and bring artists closer to the audience
  • Flexible stage and seating arrangements and state-of-the-art technical upgrades to allow for more complex productions
  • Redesigned box office to improve patron experience and customer service
  • Expanded bar and bistro offering light food and snacks
  • New grand staircase in lobby and additional comfortable seating on both levels
  • Upgraded and improved dressing rooms and green room for our artists
  • New multi-purpose room for events, discussions, play readings, education programs, and community use

For lead architect, Round House selected Kamm Architecture, a Washington, DC architecture firm. Kamm has a lengthy portfolio of projects in the performing arts and academic market sectors including architecture, planning and programming for The University of the District of Columbia, The University of Illinois, The American Players Theater, St. Stephens and St. Agnes School, The Langley School, The Urbana School District, the Countryside School, and Actors Rural Theater Company (ARTCo). Principal Thomas Kamm was formerly a stage designer and theatre professional for more than 15 years and has designed more than 60 productions for theatre, opera, dance, and television.

Heading up the theatre design is Charcoalblue, an international theatre consultant whose portfolio spans the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They are known for their expertise in acoustic design and their tailored approach to creating flexible, immersive theatre spaces. Notable projects include Center Stage in Baltimore, the Pratt Institute and St. Ann's Warehouse in New York, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and top theatres throughout the UK including National Theatre's The Shed, Royal Shakespeare Company's Courtyard Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic, the Young Vic, the Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Everyman Theatre.

Round House starts from a stable, debt-free financial foundation. To ensure the success of this campaign and long-term sustainability, it is important to achieve a healthy capitalization. The theatre will build the operating reserve to cover three months of expenses and boost the working capital. This will allow Round House to endure the unique cash flow cycle of a producing theatre, which includes the spring inflow of subscription revenue, calendar and fiscal year-end donations, and the peaks and valleys of production expenditures.


Round House Theatre is one of the leading professional theatres in the Washington, D.C. area, producing a season of new plays, modern classics, and musicals for more than 40,000 patrons each year at our theatre in Bethesda. Round House has been nominated for more than 181 Helen Hayes Awards and has won over 32, including four Outstanding Resident Play Awards and the Charles MacArthur Award for Original New Play in 2016. Round House's lifelong learning and education programs serve over 4,000 students each year at its Education Center in Silver Spring and in schools throughout Montgomery County. Cornerstone programs include Play It Forward, which provides free tickets for teens and college school students, the year-round Teen Performance Company, which culminates in the student-produced Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, Summer Camp for students in grades K-12, and a full slate of classes for Adults & Youth.

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