Esperanza Spalding performed at the Capital Jazz Fest last year. Photograph by Bernard Flagg
Watch International Documentaries at Silverdocs
8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring; 301-495-6720
Every June, the Discovery Channel and AFI Silver Theatre host Silverdocs, one of the country’s largest documentary festivals, with seven days of films from more than 60 countries. Moviegoers this year can catch Project Nim, directed by James Marsh—Academy Award winner for Man on Wire—about the famous chimpanzee raised as a human in the 1970s, and The Interrupters,about three former Chicago gang members turned “violence interrupters,” or outreach workers. The festival takes place June 20 through 26. Click here for more information.
Contemporary American Theater Festival
The Contemporary American Theater Festival returns to West Virginia’s Shepherd University July 8 through 31, with new works in repertory by five playwrights: David Mamet, Kyle Bradstreet, Sam Shepard, Tracy Thorne, and Lucy Thurber. About 90 minutes from DC, the festival in picturesque Shepherdstown has a reputation for showcasing striking new works. This year’s offerings touch on sex, race, friendship, and family, including Thurber’s The Insurgents, which explores the fine line between martyrs and fanatics. Click here for more details.
Washington Jazz Festivals
Summer is jazz season in Washington, with free shows every Friday from 5 to 8:30 at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden (Seventh St. and Constitution Ave., NW; 202-737-4215). Performances can get crowded, so it’s best to show up early for good seats.
The Capital Jazz Fest (10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia; 301-780-9300), June 3 through 5, is a multi-stage outdoor festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion featuring Herbie Hancock, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, and other big names.
June 1 through 13, the DC Jazz Festival (formerly the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival) hosts two weeks of performances at venues around town, including Cyrus Chestnut at DC’s Bohemian Caverns June 3 and 4; a concert on the Mall with Frédéric Yonnet, Claudia Acuña, Roy Hargrove, and more June 12; and a performance featuring actor Wendell Pierce (Treme, The Wire), the Rebirth Brass Band, Michael White, and more at the Kennedy Center June 13. Click here for tickets and additional information.
Broadway Blockbusters at the Kennedy Center
While many area theaters shut down for the summer, the Kennedy Center stages some of its biggest shows. This summer, the Broadway hit Wicked returns to the Opera House June 15 through August 21 following its sold-out run here in 2005. The Pulitzer Prize–winning musical Next to Normal plays June 28 through July 10 in the Eisenhower Theater, starring Alice Ripley, who originated the role off-Broadway and played it again at Arena Stage as the play developed prior to its Broadway run. She won a Tony for her performance as a mother struggling with mental illness.
The KenCen has two notable productions this summer: Stephen Sondheim’s Follies (through June 19)—with Bernadette Peters, Linda Lavin, and Elaine Paige—and the Sydney Theatre Company’s only US performances of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (August 4 through 27), starring Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
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