Interview: It’s Been a ‘Monumental’ Year for This DC Theater Company

After receiving the John Aniello Prize for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company in 2018, Monumental Theatre Company went on to secure nine 2019 Helen Hayes Awards Nominations.

In 2018 Monumental Theatre Company was the recipient of the prestigious theatreWashington John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. The Aniello Award aims to give public recognition to newer theater companies bringing their own spirit and missions to the DC area professional theater scene.

The mission of Monumental Theatre Company remains clear: “to connect emerging artists, specifically those of the millennial generation, with the larger community by giving them a platform from which to promote their work to the public.”

DC Metro Theater Arts took the opportunity to check in with Monumental Theatre to chat about not only what the Aniello Award has meant to the company, but on more general theater issues.

The interview below is with Monumental Theatre leadership Beth Amann, Jimmy Mavrikes and Michael Windsor.

David Siegel: Please tell us about your ongoing success. For instance, this year Monumental Theatre has been nominated for nine Helen Hayes Awards for your productions of Brooklyn and Pippin.

Monumental Theatre Company: We never forget why we’re doing what we’re doing; why we started Monumental. That’s our secret to success. Yes, sometimes things get stressful and overwhelming – but it’s important to take a step back and put things in perspective. The goal is to be a company focused not only on the art, but on enjoying the time spent creating the art.

Monumental Theatre Company's Managing Director, Beth Amann. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.
Monumental Theatre Company’s Managing Director, Beth Amann. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.

We’re committed to doing good work, and believe that when you put the right people in the right place, great work happens. We want everyone involved to enjoy the creative process and associated work. We’re really proud of the team we’ve assembled and their efforts to further our mission.

Beyond measuring financials and analytics metrics, we also measure success by return patrons and those who want to work with us year after year.

What did Monumental learn from the DC-area artists and theater companies who came before you?

We have asked a lot of people’s advice over the years. We’ve taken time to listen to and learn from theatre leaders who built companies in similar ways to what we hope to do. We’ve been inspired by the work they have created and have asked about their operations. The most important thing we’ve learned from the leaders who came before us is that “you’re never too busy to help out fellow artists.”

Monumental Theatre Company's Co-Artistic Director, Jimmy Mavrikes. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.
Monumental Theatre Company’s Co-Artistic Director, Jimmy Mavrikes. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.

We’ve learned a lot from companies that have come before us and from artists who have worked with us. We accept criticism wholeheartedly in order to improve people’s experiences with Monumental.

The DMV has grown into a world-class theater destination over the past several decades with a handful of small theaters developing into national powerhouses. Does that make it harder or easier for young companies to carve out a spot for themselves?  

Both. Harder because resources and space are limited. You have to fight for your place in the market. There’s so much going on that you have to be at the top of your game to attract an audience.

Monumental Theatre Company's Co-Artistic Director, Michael Windsor. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.
Monumental Theatre Company’s Co-Artistic Director, Michael Windsor. Photo courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company.

It’s easier because there is an overabundance of amazing talent that we get to develop and work with. It’s a very exciting time for the DC theater scene, and we are grateful to be a part of it.

Monumental is one of the faces of the next generation of DMV theater. What do you see as your role, your obligations, and your hopes for carrying DC theater forward?

We will work to make theater a safe, accessible space for everyone. We hope to inspire others to participate, create, and spread empathy through theater. We understand the importance of staying current and strive to engage with social movements in the culture and in the theatre world. Theatre illuminates issues which may be difficult to start a conversation about. This is the real “work” of doing theater: Moving the conversation forward so that it doesn’t retreat back into the shadows.

Would you have any advice for this year’s John Aniello Award recipient, Ally Theatre Company?

Enjoy it! It feels great to be recognized for your hard work, so take it all in! It’s been years in the making (literally) – you deserve this accomplishment and recognition!

[Related: Meet Ty Hallmark and Tai Alexander, Founders of Ally Theatre Company, Recipient of the 2019 John Aniello Prize for Oustanding Emerging Company]

For more information on Monumental Theatre Company, go online.