Arlington, Va. – Always willing to take chances and evolve, Washington Shakespeare Company
(WSC) is pleased to announce its new name along with its new season!
After 21 years as the area’s cutting-edge classical theater company, Washington Shakespeare
Company is now WSC Avant Bard, a new name that pays homage to the company’s beginnings
while representing its growth.
Launching its 22nd season in a new theater was the opportune time to usher in a new name,
representing the success and progress of the company over the past two decades. WSC Avant
Bard’s Artistic Director Christopher Henley has been with the company since its birth, and
recognized a new name just made sense.
“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.”
Continuing this practice of making the classics feel more contemporary and relevant for today’s
audiences played a big role in the company’s choice of a new name. “It’s a turning point for us, a
time to move the name and the company forward,” said Executive Director Warren Arbogast. “For
two decades, we produced great shows but there was also a lot of confusion about our name.
This is an opportunity for us to reach out to new people, in our new theater.”
WSC Avant Bard has tackled everything from an all-nude production of Macbeth to an all-female
production of The Taming of the Shrew; thus the challenge of taking on a new name as it
launches its new season is simply par for the course. First up this season is a unique production
of Happy Days, one of the three major full-length plays by Samuel Beckett, arguably the most
important and influential playwright of the 20th century.
In 1994 and 2004, the company produced Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, but Happy Days is the
third and brightest of the trio, yet in the inimitable style of the dramatist, it has a singular view of
life. “The play opens with a woman cheerfully going about her daily routines, seemingly oblivious
to the fact that she is buried up to her waist in dirt,” said Henley. “It is a beautiful, funny and
poignant look at the human impulse to make the best of – and in some ways to ignore – the
realities of life and death.”
In November, WSC Avant Bard presents its Shakespeare production for the season, The
Mystorical History of Henry I(V), an adaptation of the Bard’s Henry IV as one full-length play.
What’s “avant bard” about this production is, among other things, the casting. Instead of a
traditional approach, with a mostly male cast, WSC Avant Bard’s production will turn the play
around and put most of the roles in the hands of women, with a touch of satire and commentary
on our times the logical result.
This winter, WSC Avant Bard tackles Albert Camus’ Les Justes, about a terrorist cell in Russia at
the turn of the last century – a play that resonates even today. Finally in the spring, two plays will
be produced in rotating repertory: The Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard and The Bacchae by
“WSC Avant Bard will always take a chance – that’s our brand,” said Henley. “From a new name
to a new home to a new take on a classic, we are willing to take risks and produce non-traditional
theater that sets us apart and wins over audiences from around the region. We have evolved
from a scrappy start up to a substantial theater company, without losing our edge. And we will
continue to do so, with our new name, new home and new season.”
Happy Days previews begin Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. with a press night on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the
Black Box Theater in Artisphere. Tickets for Happy Days are on sale starting at $25.
Subscriptions to WSC Avant Bard’s upcoming season are also on sale. Contact the Artisphere
box office at 1-888-841-2787. Information is also available on our website at
To schedule an interview with Christopher Henley or Warren Arbogast, or for additional
information, please contact Jay Hardee at (202) 258-6878 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About WSC Avant Bard
Founded in 1990, WSC Avant Bard is a performing arts organization dedicated to producing
primarily classic works, both time-tested and contemporary; emphasizing a provocative, bold
approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the
region, mentored by seasoned, professional theater artists.
WSC Avant Bard’s mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence,
collaboration, developing talent, and promoting educational and social outreach. Our history is
replete with edgy, innovative productions of Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar on the top floor of
an unfinished office building in Ballston to a Kubrick-inspired Richard II; productions of works by
other world literary giants, from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to Wole Soyinka’s Death and
the King’s Horseman; American classics, from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire to
Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour and Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice; exciting new plays, from
Allyson Currin’s Learning Curves to Julie Jensen’s Two-Headed; and hit productions of our
favorite contemporary playwright, Tom Stoppard, from Travesties to Hapgood. Our upcoming
mainstage programming, and our various exciting reading series, build on this tradition of bold
productions of classics, both time-honored and contemporary.
WSC Avant Bard has moved to its new home, the Black Box Theater, in Arlington County’s new
Artisphere in Rosslyn. WSC Avant Bard is supported in part by: Arlington County through the
Cultural Affairs Division of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources and the
Arlington Commission for the Arts; The Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National
Endowment for the Arts; The Arlington Community Foundation and the Fund for Arlington.