Arts Desk

Actor Frank Britton Assaulted After Play Opening in Silver Spring

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For D.C. actor Frank Britton, yesterday nearly ended the way most opening nights do. He and the cast of Forum Theatre's The Last Days of Judas Iscariot took theirs bows, gathered in Round House Silver Spring's lobby for a reception, and continued hanging out, in smaller and smaller numbers, late into the night. Not long after 2:15 a.m., Britton said farewell, stopping at a nearby 7-Eleven to grab a snack and then heading toward a taxi stand by the Silver Spring Metro station. He was "literally feet away" from a cab, he says, when a group of young men passed him. "Before I knew it I was sucker-punched, hit in the head, hit three or four times," he says. They took everything, including his phone and iPad, except for his glasses and a bracelet.

A witness called 911, Montgomery County Police and paramedics responded by 2:32 a.m., and Britton was transported to Holy Cross Hospital. He's expected to undergo surgery for a shattered cheekbone, and he won't be able to perform tomorrow when The Last Days of Judas Iscariot resumes its run after an already scheduled day off. An understudy will take his place.

Members of D.C.'s theater community flooded Twitter and Britton's Facebook page with missives of support today, and he says he's already had "a parade of friends" visit him in the hospital. One created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Britton's medical expenses. Britton doesn't have health insurance and doesn't know how big a bill he's facing; the campaign has already collected more than $14,000.

While Britton says he couldn't have expected such support, Forum Artistic Director Michael Dove says "Frank has the most goodwill of anyone in the D.C. theater community. The guy is the biggest supporter of everything everyone else does. It’s amazing that [the campaign has raised so much money], but it also doesn't surprise me."

Police are looking for three to four males in their late teens or early 20s, and no arrest has been made, a Montgomery County Police spokeswoman says.

In addition to the broken cheekbone, Britton has a contusion on the back of his head and had a hemorrhage in one eye, although he says his vision has returned to normal. “I’m sure a shiner is going to form right there,” he says. That won't keep him off the stage, Britton insists: If he has his way, he'll be back in the role of Pontius Pilate on Thursday.

Although Britton says he's in pain, "I’m in relatively good spirits. I’m pushing forth," he says. "I’m just appreciating the love. I can’t feel bad anymore."

Image courtesy Forum Theatre

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  • Ben Jones

    No health insurance?!?! He should have gone to:

  • Jacob

    And there's also TheatreWashington's fund Taking Care of Our Own...between that and the 14K already raised, hopefully he can come out of this without also facing significant (if any) bills, so he can focus on the important stuff here...

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    This is really sad. There are still millions of U.S. citizens without health insurance. I don't care about illegal aliens.

  • Asuka

    "Police are looking for three to four males in their late teens or early 20s"

    Boy, that description really narrows it down, doesn't it? You fucking pathetic coward of a "journalist." I'm surprised you didn't use the new state-media-approved term "young people." Before that it was "youths," and before that it was "teens."

  • DC Native

    I would like to reiterate Asuka's point. Isn't it sad that these cowardly journalists would rather protect the descriptions and identities of criminals than help the victim (and potentially the next ones) by publishing a good description of the criminals so that the public can be on alert and help to catch them? Stop protecting the criminals identities! Use your power of the pen to give citizens the most accurate and relevant information. Help us catch these guys!

  • Jason

    The tone of these comments is highly disturbing. Don't blame City Paper or "state media" (whatever that means – what a paranoid crock!) for not having all the details on the suspects. I happen to know that in fact "3 to 4 males in their late teens or early 20s" is literally all the information the cops (and by proxy, the journalists) have at present. Why? Because that's all the victim saw; he only caught a view of them for a few seconds before they had mercilessly beat him, robbed him of his great-grandmothers chain (which they will probably sell for 2 bucks), and traded away their karma in the process by harming one of the brightest lights of DC's artistic community.

    So please, leave your crackpot anti-gummint conspiracy issues out of this and focus on the victim. Shit.


  • Malarky

    For those demanding a description, it would have to come from the victim, who says he was focused on a cab when he was sucker punched at 2 am. After celebrating. I doubt there is a conspiracy to withhold a description. He doesn't know what they looked like.

  • Malarky

    Ben Jones, I want to "like" your post. Starving artists, get your health insurance!

  • Rosa

    "a witness called 911". Does that mean a witness to the crime? So even if the victim was sucker punched and did not see his attackers. The fact that they reported a witness AND that the victim reported a "group of young men passed him". There should be some kind of description....

  • JoeShmoe

    It is wrong to leave out the race of the attackers if it is known. It would be noteworthy if it was 4 white kids but it's becoming politically incorrect to identify race if it's 4 black kids. That's messed up.

  • 20011

    Silver Spring, gotta love it.

  • Fearfaxer

    Just why do people find it so unusual that there is no better description than the one given in this story? These punks are most likely in the habit of doing this, and no doubt made sure their faces were obscured as much as possible. The victim was focused on the cab he was about to enter, and didn't get a good look at them. As for the witness who called 911, that could have been someone across the street who didn't get a good look at them either, but was able to see that something bad was happening.

  • chris lee

    I'll say wasn't Oprah or Danny Glover but it in all probability was black teens in Silver's this kind of pussyfootin' denialism that got him jumped in the first place. 2am in a neighborhood like that, you have to be aware that that is a real possibility. Always be aware of your surroundings.

  • huh?

    What does that mean, 20011? I certainly hope you're not contending 20011 has less violent crime than 20910. Because you're an idiot if that's the case.

  • chris lee

    point taken, but if you see a gang of black teens at 2am in any zip code of Silver Spring, you're justified in being concerned. Certainly if you're by the Silver Spring Metro, you need to have your spider man senses on high alert.

  • chris lee

    it's the beginning of summer and the police blotter is set to spike. That demographic " which shall not be named " is going to be looking for "opportunities". Denialism and PC coquettishness needs to be replaced by hard boiled street smahts. 'scuse me, I gots to go to my Crips meet-up.

  • Jes’ sayin’

    There is NO reason this poor fool doesn't have medical coverage. If any good comes out of this terrible event, it might be that someone reading this might wake the hell up and prepare to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.

    Just because the deadline for signing up this year has passed, doesn't mean that people can't sign up if they switch jobs, lose jobs, have life-changing events (marriage etc), or are eligible for Medicaid.

  • asuka

    If the description includes possible ages and the sex of the attackers, then the race is known, period. Who looks at someone long enough to know 1) their age and 2) their sex without noticing their race? This pathetic journalist knows it, and you intellectually dishonest liars know it, too. Enough bullshit.

  • asuka

    Stop promoting antisocial behavior and coddling criminals just because you've been brainwashed into feeling guilty, Jonathan L. Fisher.

  • ccc

    why does it matter why the journalist says. you all have already made up your minds about a description anyway.

  • abc

    I fully agree that the press should report full descriptions of wanted criminals. However, in this particular case, no more is known, at least officially. This is the Montgomery County police release about the crime:

  • Asuka

    Now follow-up? There's been an arrest. And what did the thug look like?