As theatre in the Washington, DC-area has developed over decades, so have we – growing from an awards program to a service and partnership organization.


Woman in green dress with bold necklace
Theatre Washington is working tirelessly to create a more diverse, accessible, inclusive and equitable theatre community in Washington, DC. As President and CEO of Events DC and a theatre lover, I recognize the important role of the arts in supporting the vibrancy of the District as a whole. I applaud Theatre Washington for their visionary work, which strengthens our local community and contributes to our goal of showcasing Washington, DC as a world-class, family-friendly destination.”
Angie Gates
CEO, Executive Director of Events DC

The Story of Theatre Washington

In the early 1980s, the Washington Theatre Awards Society was founded to recognize and encourage excellence in professional theatre in the Washington, DC region through the presentation of The Helen Hayes Awards.

The first few Helen Hayes Awards presentations helped the region and the country to understand the quality of theatrical excellence to be found on Washington, DC-area stages. The prestigious credential celebrated theatres and theatre-makers by recognizing performances, design, playwriting, and productions. Additionally, the organization led education and communication programs; however, the early success of the Helen Hayes Awards made it easier to do business under that name for more than two decades.

In 2011, with the encouragement of a wide range of stakeholders, a stronger and more robust organization evolved – theatreWashington (one word, lower case t, capital W). It was a call to evolve from an Awards presenter to a more layered organization to serve the community. Presently, working in tandem with the community, Theatre Washington (two words, capital T, capital W) is evolving into a full partnership organization in service to the community with multiple year-round, core programs.

As we reflect on the history of Theatre Washington, we acknowledge that marginalized communities have yet to be fully welcomed, appreciated, and celebrated. By centering the voices we have heard the least, and working in partnership with institutions, we seek to live out anti-racist and anti-oppressive values. Moving forward, our work will take on structural racism in its many forms, including our internal working as an organization. We are actively addressing how to create anti-racist structures and policies and how to confront its barriers and impacts to the field in our region. We recognize that we cannot achieve our full potential without addressing long-standing gaps and challenges. We imagine a future where Washington, DC-area theatre is an example of how an equitable and transformative arts community can uplift an entire region.