Arts Desk

Washington Shakespeare Company Is Now…WSC Avant Bard?

For about a second earlier this year, I started evaluating local theater troupes' season announcements. Not shockingly, this didn't prove very interesting, and I stopped the project almost immediately. But today, finally, comes a season roll-out worthy of deeper investigation.

This season, the arty Arlington-based Washington Shakespeare Company is staging Happy Days by Samuel Beckett; The Mistorical Hystery of Henry I(V), which is a mostly female version of both parts of Henry IV; Albert Camus' Les Justes; and then, in rep, The Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard and The Bacchae by Euripides.

Also, the company is changing its name. Bwuh?

The Washington Shakespeare Company is now (wait for it) (now with feeling) WSC Avant Bard. This is good! In that Washington Shakespeare Company's name was very easily confused with Shakespeare Theatre Company, the much more traditional troupe based downtown. It's also a cringe-worthy pun that's probably more appropriate for a motto (or perhaps a caption in Washington City Paper). But I'm sure people will get over it.

Here's WSC Avant Bard's artistic director, Christopher Henley, from the press release:

"We're an avant garde ensemble, yet our name seemed institutional, reminiscent of a more conservative or establishment company. Our new name is the best representation of who we are now and how we have matured as a groundbreaking troupe," said Henley. "We will continue to produce great works – bringing a breath of fresh air to the classics, and taking a traditional, familiar story and looking at it from a new or different perspective."

It'll be the company's 22nd season and second at Rosslyn's Artisphere, the ambitious multipurpose arts center that is now re-examining how it does business. Happy Days opens on August 29 (previews August 25-28).

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  • Nancy H

    I discovered this company last year, when they did Shakespeare in Klingon. I then went to see their Richard III and Mary Stuart and was hooked! I *love* the new name! Good luck on the new name and season -- it looks like another great line up of shows!

  • Joe

    While the new name may be less confusing, it's also kind of laughable. It doesn't roll off the tounge, it's not catchy, and it almost seems like they're making fun of themselves.
    I wish i could have been a fly on the wall in that brainstorming session.