Years ago we critics often crashed parties after a show at the Kennedy Center or the long-gone Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore. Those were the days of unabashed fun, following the tony crowds to an embassy (or local bar) where guests were treated to food, drink and the chance to bid on fabulous items, all for a good cause.
The other night the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s annual spring gala captured some of that joie de vivre in a “Progressive Party,” online, of course. No need to crash, however, as the world was invited to attend and to bid on wine tours in Spain, a cruise on the Chesapeake, virtual cocktails with celebrities, and meditational tips to help us chill.
She spoke enthusiastically about a 2020-21 “Fully Woolly” season with hopes of a Broadway connection, and thanked viewers for tuning in…and bidding.
Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Emika Abe hosted a Woolly Party like we’ve never experienced before: Live streamed between the virtual amuse-bouche, the main course, including desserts, and performances from Woolly company members and guest artists. Viewers were encouraged to bid on the auction items, and we got a sneak peek into season 41.
So this writer poured herself a Margarita de la Casita (which I learned how to make from Andrea Tateosian in the Cocktail (Half) Hour program) and sat down on the couch, my computer tuned to e.givesmart.com at 7:30 p.m., a half-hour before “ShowTime” and a bit of Woolly’s history.
Woolly Mammoth, a non-profit theatre company founded in 1978, continues to produce challenging new plays, often edgy and always thought-provoking. The company is based in a 265-seat theater in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. “Plays that have premiered at Woolly Mammoth have been produced in more than 200 theaters in 39 states and 12 countries,” as described on its Website.
Although I missed some of the “Drunk History,” featuring Kimberly Gilbert on “How Woolly Got Its Name,” Wikipedia notes, “When space ceased to be available, it became a nomad company, performing various venues in the DC area.” That sufficed, so I moved onto the bidding.
Maria Manuela Goyanes was featured in a blog posted in this site last September. Over 150 talented folks gathered at Howard Community College for the fourth annual conference dedicated to women working in theatre. Rep Stage, the regional professional theatre in residence at HCC, hosted the festive all-day event that kicked off with a stirring keynote address by Goyanes, the then newly appointed artistic director of DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.
For her opening speech, Goyanes reiterated the Women’s Festival theme, “Power of Engagement,” before a capacity crowd in the Monteabaro Recital Hall. She spoke of having the courage to share stories and told of her own journey – moving, indeed
“Gender equality and racism in our theatre communities must be addressed,” the feisty director emphasized. “We must share problems with other theatre groups. It’s a time to come together and celebrate the diversity of theater.”
Goyanes, a Brown alumna who has a long list of achievements from the Public Playhouse where she was involved with a special musical about Alexander Hamilton, served as a panelist at yet another theater gathering last fall, The Kickoff Party for DC’s Theatre Week. She was a key panelist in “The Future of Washington Theatre.” The theme of “inclusivity” popped up again as the director shared her vision for engaging the community.
Last night Goyanes re-iterated these themes with the same enthusiasm seen last fall. After an appreciation to her staff and board members, she charmed us with her toast to chef Jose Andres, a longtime supporter of Woolly. She spoke enthusiastically about a 2020-21 “Fully Woolly” season with hopes of a Broadway connection, and thanked viewers for tuning in…and bidding.