Arts Desk

Round House Theatre Relinquishes Silver Spring Venue

Round House Theatre, the Montgomery County-based company that runs two theaters in Silver Spring and Bethesda, announced today that it will cease operating its Silver Spring black-box space when the company's lease expires on June 30, 2014. It's not yet clear how the space, which is owned by Montgomery County, will be used after that date.

The change in management potentially puts several local theater companies in jeopardy, including Forum Theatre, which has relied on the venue since 2009. Since taking up residency at the theater, Forum has grown into a locally respected troupe that's won two Helen Hayes Awards and been nominated for six others. The final show of its 2013-2014 season, Gideon's Knot, will have to find another home.

Round House has managed the Silver Spring venue for the last decade. When Round House's new producing artistic director, Ryan Rilette, took control of the company last year, he announced a plan that would increase Round House's use of the space throughout the year, "hoping to build it into a world-class space dedicated to the development and production of new plays," according to a press release the company sent today. But the plan risked pushing out Silver Spring theater's other renters, which include Lumina Studio Theatre, ArtStream, and Live Garra Theatre. The other groups appealed to Montgomery County, and officials told Round House it wanted to explore other options. The company spent six fruitless months trying to convince the public that its plan was a winner; it finally gave up and unhanded the Silver Spring venue.

It's unknown how the space will be used after next June. Lumina Artistic Director David Minton has plans to form a consortium with ArtStream, Live Garra, and other partners and approach the county with a business plan that will "lay the groundwork for the transition from what exists now with Round House's remaining tenure of the space through June of 2014 to what it's going to be like in July of 2014," Minton says. He's talked with Forum director Michael Dove about potentially joining the consortium and they plan to meet in the next few weeks. He's also talked with Happenstance Theatre directors Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell, who also produce work in the black box. Dove did not immediately return Washington City Paper's request for comment.

Until June 2014, Round House Silver Spring will operate as normal. Forum's 2013-2014 is scheduled to open Sept. 5 with a production of Aditi Brennan Kapil's Agnes Under the Big Top.

Photo: Forum Theatre's Holly Down In Heaven, courtesy Forum Theatre; photo by Melissa Blackall

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Comments

  1. #1

    This articles does not state that RHT has 3 properties in Silver Spring plus the Bethesda space none of which it pays rent for. It also does not point out that the Silver Spring space has been used primarily by renters (money goes to RHT) since 2004.
    Rilette's plans for the future not only threatened to leave organizations like Lumina, ArtStream & Live Garra without a performance space, but their very future existence as these are performance based arts groups. Lumina has been using the space since 2005 and produced nearly 50 show there.
    Lastly, RHT was approached on numerous occasions and asked to be a part of the Consortium plan - an inclusive model. They declined.
    It's time for a fairer distribution of the County's assets.

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