Attend a performance at WSC Avant Bard, and you can expect one thing for sure: the unexpected. For 25 years, it has presented the best of classical theater using a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting. Whether taking a fresh look at time-tested classics (a modern-day Othello returning home from war in the Middle East), or exploring groundbreaking contemporary works (the world premiere of Visible Language, a musical dramatized in both sign language and English), this relatively small company plays an invaluable role in Greater Washington’s rich theater scene. Open casting calls and a preference for local actors encourage promising new talent, and a longstanding commitment to nontraditional casting breaks racial and gender barriers that conventionally persist in classical theater. And for some 5,000 annual audience members, Avant Bard is one of the best values in the region – with weekly "pay what you can" matinees and markedly low ticket prices, in addition to a free reading series. Support for Avant Bard is support for theater that is local, affordable … and undeniably audacious.

Headquarters: VA-Arlington County

Where They Operate: VA-Arlington County

Age Groups Served: Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24); Adult (25-49); Seniors (50+)

Population(s) Served: All

Schools They Work In: H-B Woodlawn School, Arlington, VA

Awards & Recognition

WSC Avant Bard is the only theatre in the region with two Mary Goldwater Awards for Artistic Excellence (1997 and 2002). It has received 29 Helen Hayes nominations and four awards.

1992 Helen Hayes Award to David Crandall for Sound Design
1999 Helen Hayes Award to Jesse Berger for Direction of a Musical
2003 Helen Hayes Award to Mark K. Anduss for Sound Design
2006 Arlington County James B. Hunter Human Rights Award
2006 Elizabeth Campbell Award from the American Association of University Women
2015 Helen Hayes Award to Miranda Medugno as Best Supporting Actress, Musical


Budget (FY2014)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • The current budget for WSC Avant Bard (formerly the Washington Shakespeare Company) is: Less than $500k

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