Arena Stage is resident at the Mead Center for American Theater, named in honor of philanthropists Gilbert and Jaylee Mead. At 200,000 square feet, the Mead Center is the largest performing arts center to open in Washington, D.C., since The Kennedy Center opened in 1971. Since its reopening at the Mead Center in October 2010, Arena Stage has hosted a range of Tony Award®-winning artists, garnered numerous Edgerton New Play Awards and, most importantly, welcomed countless champions and unwavering supporters of world-class theater.
The center is home to three distinct theaters: the Fichandler Stage, the Kreeger Theater, and the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Read on to learn some quick facts about each space, including what will be playing next on each stage!
Fichandler Stage (opened in 1961)
The Fichandler Stage is named after our founder, Zelda Fichandler, and affectionately called “The Fich.” It was built as Arena’s permanent home in 1961, after the company spent years at other venues, including an old burlesque theater, The Hippodrome, and the “Hospitality Hall” of Old Heurich Brewery.
The auditorium is set in-the-round, which means audiences can experience the production from four sides, as opposed to one in typical proscenium theaters. They can also look across at each other during the action of the play, creating a greater sense of community connection. The Fichandler Stage currently seats 680 with steeply raked seating tiers and a bold, earthy exterior design. Ideally suited to large-scale shows, such as Oklahoma! and A Raisin in the Sun, you will find three shows in the Fichandler this season, including:
Kreeger Theater (opened in 1971)
Known for hosting the world premiere of the Tony Award®-winning Dear Evan Hansen (yes, where Ben Platt first “waved through a window”), the Kreeger Theater seats 510, with state-of-the-art technology and amenities. Among the trio of theaters in the Mead Center, it is the one with the most classic design, boasting three distinct attributes that establish it as one of the most accommodating and inviting venues in the nation: unparalleled adaptability, exceptional sound quality, and impeccable lines of sight. There’s truly not a bad seat in the house!
You can experience the Kreeger come alive with music and dance in three upcoming shows this season:
Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle (opened in 2010)
The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle was the final theater to be added to the complex, built during the construction of the Mead Center. The Kogod features many modern, subversive design elements.
For example, the floor of the Cradle does not touch any of the adjacent walls; rather, it sits upon 20 separate isolation pads. This creates the effect of “acoustic isolation,” whereas theaters where the floor touches the walls have to account for “impact noise.” Impact noise occurs when two objects collide.
Furthermore, the Cradle circumvents the acoustic issues a lot of oval-shaped theaters face with wooden walls inspired by the design of a woven basket. In addition to creating a unique visual design for the walls, this choice makes those walls acoustically permeable.
The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle was constructed to host the “Kogod Cradle Series,” which focused on the exploration and development of new, emerging plays. This season, the annual Voices of Now Festival will take place in the Kogod from May 15 through 18, 2024.
What’s your favorite Arena show of all time? Which theater was it in?
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, photo by Nic Lehoux courtesy of Bing Thom Architects
Interior of the Fichandler Stage, photo by Nic Lehoux courtesy of Bing Thom Architects
Interior of The Kogod Cradle, photo by Linda Davidson, for The Washington Post