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D.C. THEATRE REIMAGINED. It’s no secret that the Performing Arts Issue is my favorite recurring theme in the magazine. In fact, it’s the one issue I will never budge on swapping out on an annual basis. As a lifelong theatre nerd and avid proponent of D.C.’s burgeoning performing arts scene, I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished on our stages and all of the ways we continue to push the envelope locally, regionally and nationally. Long before my time as managing editor of On Tap Magazine, District Fray’s predecessor, I was a freelance theatre writer in the D.C. area. I spent my early to mid-20s bopping around to every press night I was invited to attend, fangirling over local theatre legends, and doing my best to wax poetic about everything from black box productions to award-winning shows. It became a self-imposed mission of mine to make theatre relatable to younger audiences — to show locals in their 20s and 30s that the upper crust of D.C. was not the only (or most relevant) demographic for these art forms. In fact, our city’s theatre institutions take great pride in promoting inclusivity and accessibility. The performing arts in the District became a linchpin of the magazine once I became editor, something I carried with me when we were acquired by Fray, when we rebranded as District Fray, and when we survived a pandemic and evolved into who we are now. And I remain unwavering in my commitment to cheerleading our theatre scene. It’s simply incredible. 

In this issue, Colleen Kennedy interviews three artistic directors for our cover story: Maria Manuela Goyanes of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Karen Ann Daniels of Folger Theatre and Matthew Gardiner of Signature Theatre. We handpicked our cover subjects for their innovative methods, fresh takes and above all else, dedication to supporting one another and truly connecting with their audiences. Aviva Bechky and Bree Rodrigues-Oliveira built the ultimate performing arts guide: a list of 50 performances to see, theatre companies to check out, artists to watch and much more. Amy Saidman and her storytelling peers reminisce about 25 years of arts organization Story District, Nicole Schaller interviews Signature Theatre’s costume director and a Baltimore-based cosplayer and part-time mermaid, Jennifer Tisdale chats with a true Renaissance man, and Chad Kinsman visits new comedy club Hotbed. We also round up some of our favorite local comedy shows, interview D.C.-based wig designers, delve into the world of physical comedy, discover a choose-your-own-adventure video game created by a team of performance artists, and talk to the talented minds behind CityDance. And if theatre isn’t your thing, be my date to a performance this fall so I can prove you wrong. Or, if you don’t want to hang out with me, thumb through the September issue for everything from managing editor Brandon Wetherbee’s interview with indie artist Neko Case to food writer Nevin Martell’s description of an oyster “cappuccino.” And please, consider supporting local theatre and checking out a show this fall. 

Monica Alford