Even as it faces the challenges of COVID-19, the Reston Community Center CenterStage has programmed a Professional Touring Artists Series that aims “to help our community reflect on how structural racism impacts us all and to celebrate diversity,” said Paul Douglas Michnewicz, RCC’s Director of Arts and Events.
In a recent conversation, Michnewicz indicated that as he plans for upcoming performances and events, he intends to have them “bring insightful commentary and moving performances.” Enhanced safe health practices and social distancing remain key. To stay within state and county social-distancing regulations for gatherings, RCC, a proscenium theater with a normal capacity of 300, is seating only 86 patrons in 43 pairs for each performance, and only pairs of tickets may be purchased online.
For more than four decades, Reston Community Center has made the arts a center point of building the diverse Reston community with its current estimated population of 60,000. Reston is part of the demographically diverse, urban-like suburban Fairfax County, with a population of over 1.1 million as a whole.
“The performing arts are an essential part of RCC’s mission and integral to the Reston lifestyle,” said Reston Community Center Board Chair Bev Cosham. “Although we necessarily make alterations to our approach to presenting the arts in order to keep people safe during the pandemic, we nonetheless remain steadfastly committed to using the arts as a means of transcending our difficulties and celebrating our resilience.”
Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon indicated that “despite the difficulties involved in executing programs while trying to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the RCC staff are working constantly to adjust and improvise in order to deliver experiences for which the CenterStage Professional Touring Artist Series is justly renowned. They have devised approaches that will serve the artists and the community well. We hope that the modifications required will be short-lived and that our audiences can return in greater numbers in 2021.”
While the final schedule is not quite ready for announcement, Michnewicz provided some of the initial offerings.
The CenterStage will host jazz violinist and activist Regina Carter; Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South; comedian Vijai Nathan’s I Am Not a Racist, But…; Nai Ni Chen’s beautiful choreography in Quest for Freedom; actor and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr.; as well as actor and LGBTQ activist BD Wong. The 2021 Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration will feature best-selling author Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be An Antiracist) to present the keynote address.
CenterStage will host musical performances that cross cultures. Among them: Lúnasa, Trout Fishing in America, Red Molly, Akua Alridge and the Tribe, and Korean jazz great Youn Sun Nah sharing the magic of their talent and generous souls. The Reduced Shakespeare Company will also return to the RCC for its annual visit.
In scheduling events for the upcoming year, Michenwicz made clear that “while we are managing the restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID 19, we are also acutely aware of the virus of racism also afflicting our country.” He wanted patrons to be aware the announcement of performance dates and ticketing will begin later than usual.
Tickets for the Reston Community Center’s CenterStage events fall season (October to December) go on sale for Reston patrons September 1 and for non-Reston patrons September 8. Tickets for performances schedule in 2021 go on sale December 1. Only pairs of tickets may be purchased online. Patrons requesting an odd number of tickets should call RCC Box Office 703-476-4500. Or Visit the RCC box office during Tuesday to Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm. (DCMTA will update this information when the final events and performance schedule are announced.)