February 19: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (1981)

On Thursday, February 19, 1981, Epiphany’s 70-year old parish hall took on new life. A recently formed theatre company in Washington, called Woolly Mammoth, began its inaugural season. For the next several years, the company presented nightly performances in the church’s parish hall. The stage had to be struck after the Saturday evening show to make the space available for coffee hour following the Sunday worship services. Prior to Epiphany’s most recent renovation, the bars that held the lighting apparatus were still visible in the parish hall ceiling.

In the later 1970’s, two young New York actors, Howard Schalwitz and Roger Brady, had an idea for a new type of theatre and decided on Washington, D.C. as the place to launch it. As the theater’s website explains, “The idea was simple: pull together a group of exceptionally talented actors, mold them into a company, seek innovative scripts with something challenging to say, and find fresh approaches to acting, directing, and design.” After Epiphany, the theatre moved to a 14th Street warehouse for many years and finally in 2005, Woolly Mammoth opened the doors of its first permanent home – a 265-seat, courtyard-style theatre in the heart of downtown Washington, just a few blocks from its beginnings in Epiphany’s parish hall.

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