Scenes of radical hospitality for #OpenYourLobby at STC and Woolly (photos)

Two venerable downtown theaters welcome Black Lives Matter protesters.

Six DC theaters welcomed #BlackLivesMatter protesters the weekend of June 5 to 7, 2020 . Photographer Malcolm Lewis Barnes reports from two of them, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. (The other four were Arena Stage, Keegan Theatre, Source, and Studio Theatre—see “Lobbies closed by COVID reopen to support #BlackLivesMatter.“)

Shakespeare Theatre Company staff inside Michael R. Klein Theatre lobby. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company took the lead in supporting protesters in Washington, D.C., for Black Lives Matter, for justice, for equality, and for civil rights.

Shakespeare Theatre Company staff outside the Michael R. Klein Theatre on 7th Street. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

The Michael R. Klein Theatre was open as a resource for protesters Saturday and Sunday, June 6  and 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering water, snacks, bathrooms, wi-fi, charging stations, first aid, and A/C.

Punk protest visitors at the Michael R. Klein Theatre. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

Outside greeters even opened doors with metal handles so that visitors wouldn’t feel they had to risk touch contamination.

Shakespeare Theatre Company staff and visitor at the Michael R. Klein Theatre. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

And around the corner a block away, STC’s Penn Quarter neighbor Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company was not to be upstaged as they rolled out the red carpet to protestors, many of whom had parked on the fringes of Union Station and decided to take the hike from the heavily fortified Judiciary Square area.

First aid station at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

Woolly offered visitors ample food, water, and a first aid station in their extended lobby, where prepackage snack bags could be picked up by visitors on the move.

Feeding station at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.
Inside Woolly Mammoth Theatre lobby. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.
Sign outside Woolly Mammoth Theatre on D Street. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.
Volunteers outside Woolly Mammoth Theatre.Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes for DC Metro Theater Arts.

Both STC and Woolly had more than ample staff and volunteers welcoming visitors and protesters alike with fresh water, snacks, and a place to rest and charge their phones.

Both attracted steady traffic during the 10-minute breaks that I took, and both served as an identifiable landmark for my team to meet up out of the heat of the day.
The other great aspect was that STC and Woolly extended their hospitality way outside the lobby to the sidewalks to greet many unsuspecting walkers and welcome them inside. The volunteers and staff were super-friendly and practiced correct COVID-19 social distancing and advised all visitors that a mask would be required for entry.
Like the MPD it seemed All Hands On Deck as these venerable downtown theater companies fulfilled their promise to #OpenYourLobby!

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