Olney’s outdoor summer programming to uphold its anti-racism pledge

Ten weeks of live performance—much of it free—curated by Olney Theatre Center's new BIPOC artist advocate, Kevin McAllister.

Olney Theatre Center returns to live performances this summer with Olney Outdoors performances on its tree-covered Root Family Stage. The season will feature free Shakespeare, an in-person edition of its popular online series Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism, jazz concerts, the new Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series, Theatre for Young Audiences, and more

The summer series signifies a further step in OTC’s commitment to anti-racism. It will kick off with a two-weekend run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Danielle Drakes July 2 to 11, 2021, featuring National Players’ first majority-BIPOC ensemble, and continue with 7 weeks of programming selected by Kevin McAllister, OTC’s recently hired Director of Curated Programs and BIPOC Artist Advocate.

Kevin McAllister

Kevin McAllister remarked about his summer curatorial choices: “It’s an exciting time here at Olney Theatre Center. We have become an arts organization that not only seeks to find diversity in our programming but one that actively works to make space for that diversity to be heard. Olney Outdoors will be an open invitation for people of different races, cultures, classes, statuses, genders, religions, and social acceptance to share a common space where our new programs will celebrate bringing together both our likenesses and differences in a positive light. From jazz, cabarets, drag balls, and songs of worship to spoken word, musical theater, open mics, Theatre for Young Audiences, and dance, there is something for everyone and we welcome the chance to sit under the stars and find joy in our commonalities together.”

Said OTC Artistic Director Jason Loewith: “In this long-awaited return to live performance, two principles guided our strategy: That we put the safety of our audience, artists, and staff before all other considerations; and that we begin as we mean to continue, by prioritizing equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in everything that we do. That’s why Kevin McAllister is curating Olney Outdoors, and why we hope to create a home at OTC for artists and audiences that haven’t seen themselves here before.”

Situated on 14 acres in central Montgomery County, OTC is the State Summer Theatre of  Maryland and provides plenty of space for physically distanced audiences to gather safely for live entertainment. The Olney Outdoors programming will culminate with the return of OTC’s all-day SummerFest over Labor Day weekend.

As Montgomery County restrictions on gatherings continue to be relaxed, a full schedule with specific performance dates, times, maximum capacities, and ticket availability will be announced toward the end of May.

Program Highlights (dates and program titles subject to change)

Danielle Drakes

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Danielle Drakes
July 2 – July 11, 2021
Get lost in the forest with OTC’s National Players as they kick off their 72nd season with the quintessential summer Shakespeare rom-com.

Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism
July 17 – 18
A weekend festival to expand on our online series of performances saluting the BIPOC artists who combine their artistry and a quest for a more just society.

Wednesday Night Grab Bag: Sip-and-Slam, Dance Around the World, and more
Wednesday nights
July 21 – August 26
Enjoy a drink as verbal virtuosos rock the mic, dancers bring different corners of the world to Olney, and more every Wednesday night.

The Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series
Friday nights
July 23 – August 27
Paid Events
Expect some DC favorites sharing the Root Family Stage in unexpected combinations.

Jazz Series
Saturday nights
July 24 – August 28
Paid Events
Associate-produced by acclaimed musician and Signature Theatre regular Mark G. Meadows (Jelly’s Last Jam), jazz gets a new home on the Root Family Stage on Saturday nights.

Sing Praise!
July 25 – August 9
Faith-inspired performances from top local and national groups sanctify Sunday afternoons.

Theater for Young Audiences
Weekend mornings in July/August
Paid Events
Child-friendly performances for elementary-aged audiences and younger.

Olney Theatre Center is located at  2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108), Olney, MD; (301) 924-3400 (box office).

On Olney Theatre Center’s Root Family Stage: ‘The Tempest’ (2015), with Craig Wallace as Prospero, Leah Filley as Miranda, and Alexander Korman as Ferdinand. Photo by Stan Barouh.


Mission: Olney Theatre Center for the Arts produces and curates theatrical performance for the diverse audiences in our community, and educates, learns from, supports, and inspires a more inclusive generation of theatermakers.

Vision: We strive to become an arts and culture powerhouse, redefining the American regional theater movement by cultivating and sharing the creativity of our community.

History: Once a summer stock retreat in rural Maryland, Olney Theatre Center is now an award-winning, year-round regional theatre surrounded in a 15-mile radius by 1.6 million people representing three of the most ethnically diverse counties in America. Since our founding in 1938, some of the biggest names in theatre have appeared on our stages: from “Golden Era” stars like Helen Hayes and Tallulah Bankhead to contemporary artists like Sir Ian McKellen, Robin De Jesús, and many others. OTC welcomed Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Debbie Ellinghaus in 2013 and 2014, respectively. They established a new artistic strategy to broaden programming with the goal of nurturing a diversity of voices and audiences. Olney Theatre Center now produces musicals and plays under the three rubrics of classic, contemporary, and family programming. Since 2013 Olney Theatre Center has twice won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Production and the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play and presented six world premieres. Complementing this work, OTC fulfills its mission as a teaching theater with such educational programs as the Our Play program in local 5th-grade classrooms, a summer camp, and a year-round professional apprentice program. National Players, now in its 72nd season, is the hallmark outreach program of OTC, a unique ensemble touring innovative theater to communities large and small across the United States.

Follow Olney Theatre Center on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @olneytheatre and on Facebook at facebook.com/olneytheatre.


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