Friday, July 6, 2012

Music. Dance. Theater. All Under One Roof.

In just a few weeks, Round House Theatre is launching Over the Line Festival, hopefully the first of many in Downtown Silver Spring. The music, theater, and dance festival will run from July 12 - July 29. During the course of two and a half weeks, we can expect more than ten companies in nearly fifty performances. The shows are for all audiences and there is something for all ages and different levels of interest.

Festival tickets are $15 ($10 if you're a RHT subscriber, senior citizen, patrons age 30 & under, and groups of 10 or more).  (Fake ID whut??). However, note that tickets to Taffety Punk performances during the festival are $10.

I was able to get the scoop from local independent actress, performer, and theatergoer Gwen Grastorf (Twitter: @gwenigma) who works with different theater companies around town and recently acted in a show Forum produced at Round House. She gave me some great insight on how it works and broke it down for me:

In a nutshell, although Round House Theatre's offices are located in the Civic Building of Downtown Silver Spring, their larger theater is located in Bethesda.  They own the Round House space on Colesville (RHSS) and rent it out to small companies, mainly Forum Theatre and Contradiction Dance but also some one-night events and unaffiliated groups.

I got her thoughts on DTSS and some challenges we face when it comes to theater and the arts in the area.

What's DTSS's biggest challenge related to the arts?

"DTSS's biggest challenge related to arts is just that people don't know that it is an accessible, fun, and cheap option.  Many people in Silver Spring don't know that they can see live arts, for cheap, right in their neighborhood.  There are hundreds and hundreds of people who work and live downtown - particularly at large companies like the Discovery or United Therapeutics, but also the many workers who make their living at DSW, Whole Foods, Ulta, Adega, McGinty's, etc.  If people who work and play in SS knew that they could see a play or a dance recital for $10 or $15, would they attend?  We already have  many wonderful options - blockbuster hits at the Majestic, indie & classic movie options at the AFI Silver, and live music at the Fillmore.  Adding cultural arts to that mix should not be a big leap for local residents. Recently there have been a lot of great live acts in the downtown area during the market days - the School of Rock kids on weekends, and the Washington Revels recent Sunfest, as well as the Blues Festival.  It's just a matter of getting residents to realize that live performance is something that can be part of their free time - affordable, fun, and a great way to spend an evening out."

What changes would you like to see take place?

"Part of the problem is budgetary - theaters and dance companies are often working on often very tight budgets, as many national and corporate grants have dried up in the past few years.  There isn't much money for marketing.   How do we get them to know about events?  Postcarding?  signs?  Presenting excerpts from shows on the live stage?" 
Gwen makes some great points since it seems like the arts are the first to get budget cuts even more so in a tight economy. She noted that another great space right on Georgia is the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center (Twitter: @MC_CulturalArts) and they have some student-produced work but mostly function as a roadhouse for touring shows and weekend events with a wide variety of performances to include dance, music, and theater.  We also have the Maryland Youth Ballet on Ellsworth Drive and it's easy to get to.

How can you help?? Spread the word. Tweet about it. Post about it. Go see shows. Stay local. Invite your friends from other areas. Promote promote promote!

If you're interested in keeping the arts alive and donating to any of the
aforementioned art centers, please see their respective websites:
Round House Theatre
Forum Theatre - keepin the arts alive!
Maryland Youth Ballet
Contradiction Dance

Note: Gwen Grastorf's opinions were those solely of her own and not representing any of the companies named, particularly Round House or Forum.

Know of any additional art centers or th
eaters I could add to this? Drop me a line at


  1. I live a BLOCK from the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center - but attend events there maybe 2-3 a year and that is when I very proactively seek them out. A much better job could be done to get the word out on these productions (visiting and inhouse) there and at Round House SS just by somebody from each joining all the neighborhood yahoo group lists and posting the events there weekly. Believe me local folks WANT to know and are always surprised when I mentioned things I've seen, wishing they had known so they could have attended.

  2. .thanks for sharing