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Interview: Theatre Life with Thomas Floyd

The Washington Post arts/sports journalist on some of the best in DC theatre for 2022 and more.

Interview: Theatre Life with Thomas Floyd
Thomas Floyd.
Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post.

Today's subject Thomas Floyd is someone you probably know if you are a regular reader of The Washington Post. Thomas is an arts journalist who contributes features on theater, movies, television, books and comedy for the Weekend and Style sections. He also writes theater, film, and literary criticism. That is more than enough for one person right there, but Thomas has another side to him as a writer and it's one you might not think of.

When not writing about the arts, Thomas is a contributing sports reporter as well as a multi-platform editor for all sections of the Washington Post.

He copy edited coverage of the Capitol insurrection featured in The Post's package that won the Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Thomas is the recipient of many honors and awards including the coveted National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for theater critic which he won this year.

Most writers have one concentration. Read on to see what Thomas' opinion is on that and for what he thought was some of the best DC theatre in 2022.

Thomas Floyd is a multi-faceted, talented writer who lives his theatre, sports, and every other life of his to the absolute fullest. If you are familiar with his writings in the Washington Post, you know what I mean. Very few writers are well versed in everything, but Thomas most definitely is which is why he is a huge plus to the journalism scene both locally and nationally.

Growing up, did you have an interest in sports and or theatre?

I did, though sports were my first passion since I played soccer and swam competitively from a young age in Northern Virginia and grew up with season tickets for D.C. United. I then became something of a film buff in high school - thank the Lord of the Rings movies - and that interest spawned a curiosity about the performing arts, which led to me taking several theater classes at the University of Maryland and developing a real appreciation for telling stories onstage.

At what point was it apparent to you that journalism was going to be your chosen profession?

When I was 6 or 7, I handwrote an entire newspaper about my friends and family, made copies at the library and distributed it to everyone I knew. I also still have a copy of a middle school assignment in which I identified being a journalist as my dream job. That said, I'm not sure why that was my instinct at such a young age, other than the fact that I was miserable at math and science but figured I could write halfway decently.

Did you go to school for journalism?

I did. I attended the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at Maryland and worked as the arts editor for the student newspaper, which is when I first started reviewing plays.

What was your first professional journalism job?

I worked as a copy editor and designer for The Gazette, a now-defunct chain of community newspapers across Maryland. I mostly edited special sections and real estate stories, and covered high school sports on the side, so it wasn't exactly glamorous. But nothing comes easy in this industry, and it was a lovely landing spot right out of college.

How did you come to write at the Washington Post?

I worked full time as an editor and writer from 2013 to 2018 for a soccer news site called Goal.com. But I had been getting the itch to dive back into arts coverage - new musicals like Fun Home, Hamilton, and especially Dear Evan Hansen reignited my theater obsession - when I saw that Express, The Post's commuter daily newspaper, was looking for an entertainment editor. After I was lucky enough to get the job, I started writing theater features for Express that were also published in the Weekend section of The Post. When Express ceased publication in September 2019, the editors in the Weekend and Style sections brought me on a recurring freelance writer. A few months later, in January 2020, I officially joined The Post's staff as a multiplatform editor for the Sports section. Since then, I have continued to contribute arts and entertainment coverage on top of my editing duties.

Do you find it hard writing for both the arts and sports departments when neither of the genres ever seem to take a break?

Writing about sports and arts can certainly be taxing, because you're right: Neither of those coverage areas takes much of a break. But the silver lining is it's easy to stay sharp as a writer when the assignments keep coming.

2022 saw theatre in DC ramp back up to almost a normal level. Of all the shows you reviewed and or just viewed, can you please pick a few of your favorites?

A.D. 16 at Olney Theatre Center sticks out for sure. Bekah Brunstetter wrote a wickedly funny book. Cinco Paul's score delivers earworm after earworm and Stephen Brackett directed it with a delightfully playful touch. I also was impressed by Heroes of the Fourth Turning at Studio Theatre. Will Arbery's play speaks to our nation's divisions in remarkably incisive ways, and that cast really made his dialogue crackle. I thought Jane Anger, which is now onstage at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, was a riot. And I'll take a moment to highlight Our Town at STC, The Tempest at Round House, Ain't No Mo, at Woolly Mammoth and Into the Woods at Signature, all of which have provided sterling showcases for some of my favorite local actors.

Of what is announced so far for the 2023 DC theatre season, what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I'm of course looking forward to seeing what Patrick Page does with the title role in King Lear at the Shakespeare Theatre. Olney sure knows how to stage a musical, so I'm intrigued by its production of Kinky Boots. The same goes for Signature with Sweeney Todd and Pacific Overtures. I adored The Lifespan of a Fact on Broadway - as a copy editor, I deeply related to its neurotic fact-checker protagonist - and am excited to revisit it at the Keegan Theatre. And I've never seen Angels in America onstage, so Arena Stage's production of Millennium Approaches has naturally piqued my interest.

Interview: Theatre Life with Thomas Floyd
Thomas Floyd interviewing soccer players Aleksandar Kolarov (blue) and Gianluigi Buffon (white) at the 2018 International Champions Cup in Foxborough, Mass.
Photo courteay of the artist.

Every sports reporter I imagine has a sports figure that they would like to interview someday. Do you have any on your bucket list and are there any that are no longer with us that you wish you had the chance to interview?

I find Alex Honnold, the rock climber featured in Free Solo, to be one of the most fascinating people alive, so he would be my first choice. As for those no longer with us, I'd love to pick the brain of a soccer legend like Johan Cruyff or Diego Maradona.

What advice can you give to a journalism major getting out of college and wanting to go professional?

This is a predictable answer coming from someone like me, but I've found that versatility breeds longevity in this business. The biggest mistake I see from young journalists is a fixation on writing about one subject, since being able to cover different things multiplies your career options. Curiosity and flexibility are priceless assets. Speaking from experience, I know that keeping an open mind about what you cover can expand your world in incredibly fulfilling ways.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.



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