Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company bends all of its resources toward working with innovative playwrights and world class artists to produce provocative new plays, and we have emerged as the ‘Research and Development’ department of the theatrical field. Founded in Washington, DC in 1980, we strive to become the epicenter of challenging new American theatre by fiercely pursuing our unique mission:
. . . to ignite an explosive engagement between theatre artists and the community by developing, producing, and promoting new plays that explore the edges of theatrical style and human experience, and by implementing new ways to use the artistry of theatre to serve the people of Greater Washington, DC.
Woolly Mammoth has distinguished itself as one of America’s few major theatres with a subscription season devoted entirely to full productions of new work that defy convention. Plays that have premiered here have gone on to productions at hundreds of theatres in 39 states and 12 countries. A prime example of Woolly’s work is the tremendous success of Clybourne Park. In April 2011, Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Woolly was the first theatre in America to commit to Clybourne and just the second to produce it (in March 2010). We are very proud of our role in Clybourne Park’s early development, and how it reflects our leadership in the American theatre industry.
Clybourne Park is only the most recent example in a string of successful Woolly productions, including the World Premiere of David Adjmi’s Stunning (2008), which was later produced by Lincoln Center Theatre 3 in June 2009; and our World Premiere of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed (2009), which moved onto productions at Center Theater Group, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Northlight Theatre. This track record has established Woolly as a national leader in the development of new plays and as The Washington Post recently noted, for “real impact on the world of the performing arts…you really do have to stick your neck out and be there at the creative birth of a play, as, say, Woolly Mammoth Theatre does routinely” (January 2011).
Woolly has also pioneered a number of audience and community engagement strategies over the years, including Pay-What-You-Can performances, post-show discussions, neighborhood mural projects, in-school programming, and community play-building projects. During our 30th Anniversary Season in 2009 – 2010, we became hungry for new opportunities to reach out beyond our productions, and we began asking ourselves if there were other ways of engaging with our community and audience beyond the traditional outreach and education models that pre-dominate the field. After months of research and reflection, a concept for a completely new approach to audience and community engagement at Woolly Mammoth—and, we believe, within the field—began to emerge. Our resulting innovation is a brand new “connectivity” function at Woolly.
Connectivity is a new audience engagement strategy that seeks to hasten and intensify the explosive engagement between theatre artists and the community that lies at the heart of our mission statement. Our new Connectivity Department creates opportunities for audiences to engage in conversation around our productions; designing everything from the lobby environment, to post-show discussions, happy hours in our lobby, blogs and podcasts on our website, and collaborations with organizations and businesses in our community. Connectivity aims to enliven the theatergoing experience, connect Woolly to new audiences, and build long-term relationships and loyalty between our patrons and our theatre.
Woolly is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with an annual operating budget of more than $4 million. Our full-time staff of 22 is led by Founding Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz and Managing Director Jeffrey Herrmann and overseen by a 24-member Board of Directors.
A new era of artistic and financial growth for Woolly dawned in 2005 with the opening of our first-ever permanent home—a $9 million, 265-seat, courtyard-style theatre. This dynamic, architecture-award winning space allows us to continue to pursue our long-range vision to become “the epicenter of challenging new theatre in America.”