The shutdown has forced all Smithsonian museums to temporarily close, and now, the historic Ford’s Theatre is taking a hit, too. This morning, the National Park Service informed theater staff that all stage productions in the building, which is funded partially by the federal agency, cannot resume until the government reopens, according to a statement from Ford’s spokesperson Lauren Beyea.
Until this morning, the theater company wasn’t sure whether it would have to close. Its building is funded by both the Park Service and the nonprofit Ford’s Theatre Society, and its mainstage productions, including its current production of The Laramie Project, involve no federal employees and receive no federal funding. During past shutdowns, productions at Ford’s were allowed to continue. But no luck this time. Tonight’s performance of the Matthew Shepard drama The Laramie Project will be moved to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s Melton Rehearsal Hall, and the theater is still figuring out where to put the rest of the shows.
The Center for Education and Leadership at Ford’s Theatre—which is funded exclusively by the nonprofit—will continue to operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors can still join the informational walking tour “Investigation: Detective McDevitt,” and visit two floors of permanent exhibits about Lincoln’s assassination and legacy. The center’s rotating exhibit, “Not Alone: The Power of Response,” which explores themes of empathy and personal responsibility and includes letters sent to Shepard’s family, will also remain on view.
Ford’s reached out to Woolly Mammoth early this morning and Woolly was “thrilled to help out,” says Woolly Mammoth spokesperson Deeksha Gaur. While Ford’s scrambles to find an alternative venue for the remaining Laramie Project dates, Ford’s staff members will be in touch with patrons who have already purchased tickets to the show.
Photo by Carol Rosegg