Arena Stage The Mead Center for American Theater MY ACCOUNT

The Actors Arena

Event Calendar

Actors Arena-Past Events

Mission Statement

Actors Arena provides dedicated, experienced professional actors a forum in which to hone and develop skills, facilitate substantive artistic exploration and nourish the artistic spirit.

Through hands-on workshops, invited personal perspectives and roundtable conversations, we create a space for dialogue and artistic growth in order to inspire, rejuvenate and strengthen our D.C. theater community.

2015-2016 Schedule

This season Actors Arena is offering a year-long exploration of the creation of character. Featured presenters include nationally renowned theater artists Anna Deavere Smith, David S. Leong, Rachel Grossman, Howard Shalwitz, Timothy Douglas, Kyle Donnelly and Edward Gero. We will engage in workshops, master classes, round-table discussions and intimate conversations to awaken new approaches for crafting richer characterizations.

Whether it comes in a flash or late in the process, character is the essential lens through which actors shine, illuminating recognizable, fascinating, potentially outrageous, three-dimensional human beings with memories, experiences, tensions, opinions and a unique perspective and point of view. Some of us grind this lens from outside ourselves; others find the lens within. Join us to create and develop character.

All times 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

October 19, 2015
Playing Animal Characters with David S. Leong
At first glance, playing an animal character doesn't seem hard to do. The real challenge lies in having enough skill to protect yourself from vocal and physical injury and avoid stereotypes and clichés while creating three-dimensional animal characters that walk, talk, sing and dance. How “realistic” or stylized do you make the characters? Should the roles be played as animals with “human qualities” or humans with “animal qualities?” How do you make choices that you can sustain over a long run? Dive into these topics with movement coach and fight choreographer David S. Leong.

November 23, 2015
Viewpoints with Marietta Hedges
Viewpoints is a technique that creates viscerally dynamic moments of theatre with actors and provides a vocabulary for thinking about and acting upon movement and gesture. Viewpoints take a very physical approach to creating theater and also serves as a training methodology that fosters listening, focus and collaboration. Participants will work with four of the physical Viewpoints and delve into some vocal Viewpoint work as well. Come dressed to moved and with 6-7 lines of memorized text.

December 7, 2015
Developing Character with Anna Deavere Smith
Actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith guides participants through her unique perspective and the interview techniques she uses to develop a character, as well as how research and the examination of topical social issues can combine to form a theatrical experience.
Note: This workshop runs 7 pm – 9 pm

February 29, 2016
Getting out of Caricature: A Thousand Faces, One Story with Edward Gero
Carl Jung’s theory of dreams, the collective unconscious and archetypes speaks to an idea of a communal human experience that transcends cultural boundaries. Joseph Campbell, Jung’s philosophical offspring, speaks of how these same patterns and shared experiences exist in the waking realm of mythology. In a candid and freewheeling conversation, actor Edward Gero discusses the impact of Jung and Campbell on his work as a source of energy and inspiration in creating character and identifying the dramatic journey common to great texts.

March 14, 2016
Preparation and Improvisation with Kyle Donnelly
Examine the two basic tenets of great acting in the context of both new and established texts with director Kyle Donnelly. How do you fulfill the needs of the text while bringing your own uniqueness to the role?

*Participants should bring in a monologue or short scene that is fairly new to them.

March 28, 2016
Characters as Facilitators with Rachel Grossman
How does this particular character engage audience in a task or exercise? With dog & pony dc Co-Founder Rachel Grossman, explore techniques for inventing and executing in-show facilitations, grounded in dog & pony dc's audience integration principle and utilizing approaches adapted from educators, community activists and corporate consultants.

April 18, 2016
Freeing the Natural Actor (based on the work of Kristin Linklater) with Timothy Douglas
Director Timothy Douglas provides a movement-based lecture and demonstration culminating in two or three participants working on several lines of Shakespearean verse.

June 6, 2016 (6-8 p.m.)
A Conversation with Howard Shalwitz
Join Artistic Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Howard Shalwitz as he shares his insight on creating and portraying character.

2014 – 2015 Season

Hypnosis and the Creative Artist Workshop
Monday, Oct. 27, 2014
With actor and hypnotherapist, Jeff Allin

Bridging the Creative Gap Discussion
Monday, November 10, 2014
With local artists including Forum Theatre Artistic Director Michael Dove, No Rules Theater Company Artistic Director Joshua Morgan and Taffety Punk Company Member and Director Marcus Kyd. This discussion will cover a wide range of topics and best practices on how to overcome obstacles in the creative process and the business of theater.

Body Image: A Profound Look at Everyday Body/Beauty Viewpoints
Monday, December 1, 2014
With sociologist and life coach Abby Stone

Intro to Working On-Camera Workshop
Monday, December 8, 2014
With actor and author of the book You Can Work On-Camera, Brenna McDonough

TED TALK: Classical Acting Master Class
Monday, March 30, 2015
With Helen Hayes-Award winning actor Ted van Griethuysen

Hip-Hop Theater
Monday, April 13, 2015
With award-winning director, playwright, master teaching artist and actor Psalmayene 24 and DJ Niktha1da

AEA Discussion
Monday, April 24, 2015

Advanced Musical Theater Audition Class
Monday, May 4, 2015
With award-winning director, choreographer and producer Cate Caplin

2013 – 2014 Season

A Conversation with Joy Zinoman

Dan Pruksarnukal (with Amelia Powell) – Filming Your Audition

A Conversation with Maurice Hines

David S. Leong – The Art of Selling Yourself Workshop
David S. Leong is Theater Chair of Virginia Commonwealth University on The Art and Science of Selling You – How to promote yourself during the interview and audition process without sounding like an egomaniac.

Surviving Tech, and the Rest of Our Lives! Nutrition, Health and Exercise for Artistic Stamina
Jan. 14, 2014
This discussion will deal with a variety of topics to consider approaches to keep us healthy, alert and present throughout our most challenging times. Led by Larry Redmond, with a discussion on “Harry’s Rules” from the bestselling books Younger Next Year and Younger Next Year for Women. How do we build these bodies, our true instruments, and keep ourselves in the best condition possible to continue our creativity throughout our lives.
Featured guests include:

  • Tricia McCauley, M.Sc. Clinical Herbalist & Certified Health Coach
  • Jenna Sokolowski on starting a running exercise program

Moment Work with Tectonic Theatre Project
Monday, February 10, 2014
Tectonic Theater Project uses a devising theater method called Moment Work. Moment Work has been used to build all of Tectonic's plays (including The Laramie Project) and is about first building the theatrical world of the play (the look, the sound, the feel) using the "elements of the stage" (i.e., lights, sound, set, costume, prop, movement, etc.) and then finding or writing the dialogue or text that it inspires. More information about Tectonic Theater Project and moment work can be found at

The New Normal
Monday, February 24, 2014
Join us for an exciting workshop and discussion based on what we call “The New Normal”, i.e., shortened rehearsal periods, crazy repertory schedules, smaller wages and extension issues. First,Naomi Jacobson shares pre-rehearsal tools and techniques to help actors feel prepared, connected and vibrant while navigating the shortened rehearsal processin this new age of shrinking arts budgets and cost cutting.
We’d also like to hear from you. Nancy Robinette will open the floor and lead a discussion about topics including healthcare, parking and/or other union issues. We will be joined by Equity liaison Barbara Pinolini.

Alexander Technique
Monday, March 24, 2014
With Voice and Performance Coach, Mary Naden

Women of a Certain Age Redux
March 11, 2014
Reprise, Revise, Revisit, Revel, Relish, Rejoice, Reinvestigate, Rebel & Reason? Why Not!?
– Come play March 11th and bring anything you’ve created since the gauntlet was thrown last year … plays, scenes, songs, ideas! Everyone of any age and gender welcome!

Writing & Improvisation Workshop with Ann Randolph,
creator and star of the hit one woman show Loveland

March 31st
WRITE YOUR LIFE FOR THE PAGE AND THE STAGE: Through writing exercises, group discussion, and improvisation we will support one another in creating and speaking our stories. This is a workshop for those interested in personal essay, memoir, solo performance, and self-discovery.

Synetic Theater
April 21, 2014
Actors, movers and collaborators of all physical levels are welcome to attend. Synetic’s work is developed through ensemble based theatre practices, synthesizing kinetic art forms and movement styles. Our style of storytelling utilizes the actor’s expressive physicality to create complex and simple gestures that communicate the psychological and emotional locations of the character(s) or reveal the themes and actions of a scene. Synetic's resident choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili along with senior Company Members will introduce participants to the foundational movements of our training — the basic words of our vocabulary, as it were — as well as work with physical theater improvisations that connect the actor with the body, space, and ensemble.

Gathering of Artistic Leaders (local)
June 15, 2014

2012 – 2013 Season

Actors Arena Launch Party
June 11, 2012

Theater Washington Conversation with Brad Watkins and Linda Levy Grossman

Are You in This for the Long Haul?: In Search of a Sustainable Quality of Life for the Professional Actor
Monday, November 5

Come share your questions, concerns and great ideas on how to improve our quality of life now and in the future. Do you think about having a home, family, retirement one day? Talk with other artists who wonder if and how we can do that without having to give up the business, marry a billionaire, or work 10 other jobs. Help us to launch a conversation about insuring our longevity in the craft we hope to be doing until we die. This will be a roundtable discussion moderated by Dawn Ursula and Kim Schraf.

Implied Violence! Or problems in Stage Combat: Rehearsal Room vs. Classroom
Feb. 11, 2013
Are you playing the scene or fighting the fight? Are you too worried about one to do the other? These experienced fight directors will share their problems in the rehearsal room. We'll investigate how to protect your creativity as well as your body, discussing how to communicate and work together to make implied violence a thrilling and safe part of our artistry! Led by Larry Redmond, whose SAFD fight certification expired in the first Clinton Administration!

Featured guests include:

  • Casey Kaleba, Fight Director/SAFD Certified Teacher
  • Robb Hunter, Fight Director/SAFD Certified Teacher, Professor of Theatre at American University
  • Monalisa Arias, Fight and Combat Consultant at GALA Hispanic Theatre
  • Lorraine Ressegger, Fight Director

Double Edge Workshop
Saturday, January 26 OR Sunday, January 27, 2013
Workshop with the artists of Double Edge Theatre, who will premiere The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) at Arena Stage from February 6-10.

Training is the cornerstone of Double Edge’s collaborative process. In the early days, physical and improvisational work was developed by Artistic Director Stacy Klein based on her studies with Rena Miercka, lead actress of Polish director Jerzy Grotowski's Teatr Laboratorium, and focused on the discovery of the body and voice as an integral and responsive expressive vessel. Over time, Klein and ensemble created a unique, holistic methodology, employing the actor's full potential – physical, vocal, emotional, and imaginative – to drive individual exploration, ensemble collaboration, and performance creation.

The Casting Director Relationship
April 15, 2013
Ways to make an excellent first impression, strut your valuable stuff, extricate yourself gracefully if need be and relax when it doesn’t work out. Join Casting Directors Dan Pruksarnukul (Arena Stage), Nick Stimler (Fords Theatre), Daniel Neville-Rehbehn (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Danisha Crosby (Round House Theatre) and Naomi Robin (Theater J) for a frank, friendly discussion.

A Conversation with Molly Smith
June 10th, 2013
A conversation about vision, leadership, creativity, and whatever else comes up with Artistic Director Molly Smith.

2011 – 2012 Season

Terry Currier Cabaret

Edward Gero Master Class

Kabiku Shapoopi

Costumes (A Discussion with Costume Directors)


Unless otherwise noted, events take place in Arena’s Community Engagement classroom. Enter the Mead Center through the main entrance. Go through the main lobby, up the stairs to the right of Concessions, and through the glass doors on the right; the classroom will be on your left.

There is no charge to participate, but we ask each participant to contribute $1 toward a fund that can be used for refreshments, future workshops, etc.

To RSVP for an event,
or to be added to our mailing list,
please email

Actors Arena
Steering Committee

Naomi Jacobson
Joy Jones
Kathryn Kelley
Larry Redmond
Nancy Robinette
Jefferson Russell
Stephen F. Schmidt
Kim Schraf