‘Reaching the NextStop’ Part 1: An Introduction by Evan Hoffmann

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My name is Evan Hoffmann. I am the newly appointed Producing Artistic Director of  Elden Street Players, soon to be rechristened the NextStop Theatre Company. Elden Street Players is a twenty-five year old community theatre based in Herndon, Virginia and is currently in the process of transitioning from an all-volunteer theatre company to the newest member to our region’s [U1] outstanding professional theatre community.

elden logoElden Street Players was founded in 1988 by a group of local students, civic leaders, and artists, who believed that Herndon, Virginia deserved to have its own theatre company. From the outset, the founders envisioned a group that was more than just an opportunity to show off for the neighbors; rather, an organization dedicated to producing outstanding theatrical works that were imaginative, unique, and of the highest possible quality. Located in (what was then) the far edge of the emerging Northern Virginia suburbs, they began producing ambitious productions that few other companies (professional or amateur) would even consider doing. ESP first performed in a community center gym, then a local barn (no joke!), and finally took up residence in an industrial warehouse, converted into a small black box theater. The response from our community was immediate and overwhelmingly positive.

During our first 25 years, we gained attention for our productions of cutting edge dramas like The House of Blue Leaves, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, and The Price, as well as our ambitious, yet intimate, staging of rock musicals like Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Who’s TOMMY. We have produced over 120 mainstage productions that have welcomed nearly one hundred thousand patrons to our 114-seat venue.

In 2000, we were one of the founding members of the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors (WATCH Awards) and since then have been the proud recipients of nearly three hundred nominations and over 60 awards, including multiple honors for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Musical, Director, Actor, and Actress, among many others.

As a child growing up in Herndon, I was blessed to be in the cast of Elden Street’s very first Theatre For Young Audiences production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, back in 1992. From the very beginning, I was in love with everything and everyone at Elden Street. There was a level of dedication and enthusiasm that I had never experienced, combined with an incredibly open-minded and loving community of artists. From that day to this, I have always been ready and eager to be involved whenever and wherever the company needed me. I have acted, directed, designed, run the light board, built the sets, and even cleaned the bathrooms out of love for ESP!

After graduating from the College of William and Mary, I returned to the Washington area and began to forge my own professional theatre career. Over the years, I have been honored to work with many of the outstanding professional theatre companies in and around DC; including Signature Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Round House, Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre, American Century, and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. I have also performed in the NYC Fringe Festival, toured with the American Shakespeare Center and was an International Acting Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. But through it all, ESP always felt like my real theatrical home.

Three years ago, I was approached to join the ESP Board of Directors to help brainstorm and determine the future of the organization. We had attained remarkable stability as a company and succeeded in creating and maintaining the kind of powerful and engaging theatre that the founders had dreamed of at the start. And yet, the group was faced with uncertainty about what to do next. Where were we headed?  What more could we accomplish? We needed a new vision and dream to guide the company into our next 25 years.

Evan Hoffmann in The Industrial Stength Theatre at The Edlen Street Players. Photo by Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times
Evan Hoffmann in The Industrial Strength Theatre at The Elden Street Players. Photo by Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times.

As a company, we have always believed in challenging the abilities and limitations of our space, our leadership, our artists, and our audience. We have maintained a tradition of perpetually striving for something greater, both in our work and for our institution as a whole. We are proud of our history and traditions, our actors, and directors, and above all, our supportive community in the Dulles Corridor. It is due to, and in honor of, those remarkable factors that we have now chosen to reach further than we have ever before, to create an even stronger and larger organization. The time has come for us to grow to the next level, take the next step, and reach the NextStop!

Elden Street Players’ production of The Seafarer is playing through April 6, 2013 at Elden Street Players – 269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call (703) 481- 5930, or order them online. Read Julia L. Exline’s review. And for the kids, Something Different 2013 is playing through April 7, 2013.