Originally Published by: Patch on 05/06/2021
Written by: Alessia Grunberger
GERMANTOWN, MD — After a year of pandemic-related shutdowns and furloughs, Olney Theatre Center is making a return to live performances.
The award-winning regional theatre on Thursday announced it will welcome back audiences beginning in July for its “Olney Outdoors” summer series. Ten weeks of jazz concerts, Shakespeare plays, and other dazzling performances will take place on the Root Family Stage and lead up to a community festival over Labor Day weekend.
The series will kick off July 2 with a two-weekend run of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring the National Players’ first majority BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) ensemble.
“‘Olney Outdoors’ will be an open invitation for people of different races, cultures, classes, statuses, genders, religions, and social acceptance to share a common space where our new programs will celebrate bringing together both our likenesses and differences in a positive light,” said Kevin McAllister, the theatre’s director of curated programs and first BIPOC artist advocate. “From jazz, cabarets, ‘Drag Balls,’ and songs of worship to spoken word, musical theatre, open mics, theatre for young audiences, and dance, there is something for everyone and we welcome the chance to sit under the stars and find joy in our commonalities together.”
Olney Theatre Center is located at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd. and boasts 14 acres of land — which artistic director Jason Loewith said will allow for proper social distancing.
Loewith, who took the helm in February 2013, said coronavirus safety will take center stage at “Olney Outdoors” this summer. Equity and inclusion among artists and audiences attending performances also will be a top priority of the theater.
“In this long-awaited return to live performance two principles guided our strategy: That we put the safety of our audience, artists and staff, before all other considerations; and that we begin as we mean to continue, by prioritizing equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in everything that we do,” he said. “That’s why Kevin McAllister is curating ‘Olney Outdoors,’ and why we hope to create a home at (Olney Theatre Center) for artists and audiences that haven’t seen themselves here before.”
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