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The little theater that could: Anacostia Playhouse turns 5

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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It’s been a long hard climb, but the Anacostia Playhouse reached its five-year milestone this month — with flying colors. The small flexible theater, known as a “black box,” is located a few blocks from the Frederick Douglass house in historic Anacostia, an arts-friendly neighborhood that also includes the Anacostia Community Museum. While sometimes struggling to pay the rent, the 100-seat theater has built a reputation for presenting Helen Hayes Award-winning plays.

The Anacostia Playhouse evolved from the H Street Playhouse, which for a decade anchored the cultural and economic life of the H Street NE corridor north of Capitol Hill until it closed in 2012, essentially a victim of the neighborhood revitalization it helped to foster. Rising rents on the H Street Corridor meant the Playhouse had to find a new space. It was either that or “just get out of theater altogether,” said Adele Robey, a co-founder of both the H Street Playhouse and the Anacostia Playhouse, which she also directs.

Fortunately for theater lovers, Robey’s love of the stage won out. A year after the H Street Playhouse closed, she opened the Anacostia Playhouse across the river, remodeling an old warehouse, which she calls “the best kind of space for a small black-box theater” because of its high ceilings.

The first three years in the new location were the hardest. But slowly the new theater and the neighboring Anacostia Arts Center just around the corner — a frequent partner of Robey — have been developing what she calls “a little arts community.” Last month, Robey breathed a sigh of relief after signing a five-year lease for the theater.

So the Playhouse has a home at least through 2023. What does Robey envision for her theater over those years? Raising more money is certainly high on her list, she said, but there will also be expanded children-and-youth programming, including classes, workshops and productions for kids to perform in. She wants to forge new partnerships and is talking to Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus about resource sharing. The cultural and social services center in Ward 8 — better known as THEARC — just opened a small black-box theater of its own, relieving some of the city’s shortage of performance spaces.

Though Robey is not planning a fifth anniversary gala, she has secured a grant from the Cafritz Foundation to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $7,500. She is also looking forward to a full season, and has bookings into October of next year.

On the calendar for the anniversary year are three plays to be presented by the Playhouse’s resident company, Theater Alliance. These begin in September with The Events, a play about a mass shooting, followed by a study of racism and sexism titled Blood at the Roots and the world premiere of Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem next spring.

In November the Playhouse will present a new-works festival, Visions/Revisions, which invites playwrights to submit 10-minute and one-act plays that address themes of deterioration and renovation in Anacostia. Submissions will be accepted through Aug. 31.

This fall Pinky Swear Productions will put on a performance of John Bavoso’s Blight….

Read more by Mark Longaker @ The DC Line

 

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Anacostia News

Lynette Voss, Owner of Anacostia’s Vintage & Charm

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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Side note: this is literally one of my favorite places to shop. I love everything they have to offer. I’m a true fan and customer! I highly recommend! This write up is from The Anacostia Art Gallery e-newsletter. “Like” them here.

DC native Lynette Loss was raised in Historic Anacostia. She became interested in vintage clothing at a very young age. Despite her passion for art and fashion, she studied Accounting Business Administration and received a B.A. Degree from the University of the District of Columbia.Lynette wore only vintage suits at work, she received so many compliments that she decided to start a wardrobing business and named it “Lynnie’s Fashions!”

While working full-time and operating her own business, Lynette took a part-time Sales Associate position at Nordstrom. She quickly worked her way up to Assistant Manager after becoming a top seller in the Women’s Active, Handbags and Fashion Jewelry Department.Lynette managed several clothing stores, owned and operated kiosks in local malls.

She hosted several fashion shows, displaying all of her fabulous finds. Finally she decided to open a boutique of her very own. That’s when Vintage & Charmed was born!Lynette takes great pleasure searching and finding all of the one-of-a-kind fashions that reside in her boutique.

Vintage & Charmed is located in the Anacostia Arts Center. Open Tuesday through Sunday.

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Anacostia News

#RethinkSchool: Bringing Hopes and Dreams to Those Most in Need

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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Like moths to a light, people from all over the country gravitate to Washington, D.C. – longing to make a difference, witness history and understand the complexities of the political process. I am like many young transplants that moved to D.C. for work and began to understand the social justice issues that threaten those who are native to our nation’s capital.

However I, unlike many other young transplants, had to quickly navigate the complexities of the education system. From my own experience, I know the difference a quality education and support system can make on students growing up in poverty.

So, when I moved to D.C. as the sole caregiver for my teenage sister, I knew exactly what she needed to be able to thrive. She needed a quality education, healthy community and individuals who could serve as mentors. As I researched areas to live and send my sister to school, I discovered Anacostia is home to some of D.C.’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods. From food insecurity to lack of affordable housing, the residents in this community are confronted with daily obstacles.

When I got word that a new charter school, Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA), was opening in Anacostia, I was curious. I wondered if the founder received the same information about the area that I had. I wanted to know her hopes for the school and dreams for the poverty stricken community. Most of all, how they were going to Rethink School.

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Anacostia Homes

ICYMI: The Horizon Opens in Ward 7

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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On Tuesday, October 9, Mayor Bowser cut the ribbon on The Horizon, the short-term family housing program in Ward 7, marking another step forward in delivering on her promise to close and replace DC General Family Shelter with dignified, service-enriched programs across all eight wards. The Horizon is the second of three short-term family housing programs opening this fall, following the opening of The Kennedy in Ward 4.

At The Horizon, families will have access to service-enriched programming that will help them stabilize and exit homelessness. The site includes 35 family units, computer labs for residents, administrative space for staff and providers, outdoor playground and recreational space, age-appropriate indoor recreation space, a homework and study lounge, and other amenities.

Learn more about The Horizon and the Mayor’s plan to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring HERE.

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