Arlington, We Love Arts

Interview with Playwright Beau Hopkins

Original Ugandan production of The River & The Mountain / Courtesy of Artisphere

Original Ugandan production of The River & The Mountain / Courtesy of Artisphere

British playwright Beau Hopkins wrote The River and the Mountain – the first Ugandan-produced play to deal with the theme of homosexuality. The controversial show, which premiered in Kampala in 2012, led to charges against and eventual deportation of producer David Cecil.

The River and the Mountain will make its US debut – and its first showing outside of Uganda – in a series of staged readings in the DC/Baltimore area, including a free staged reading this Saturday night at Artisphere. I recently spoke with Hopkins about the project and the current political climate in Uganda.

Joanna Castle Miller: Tell me a little about what led you to write this piece.

Beau Hopkins: I met (producer) David Cecil shortly after I arrived in Uganda in April of last year. And he introduced me to a theater company that suggested an interesting topic: the issue of homosexuality. It was something over which a blanket silence had descended that was politically motivated. And in their view, it was important to rupture that silence.

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Arlington, Special Events, The Features

See Opera Differently This Fall

September’s not just the start of pumpkin season, festival season, or football season – it’s the start of opera and musical season, too!

Get your classical groove on with these affordable and out of the ordinary events:

Opera in the Outfield

On September 29, Nationals Park opens up for another night of free opera (FREE opera! Did you hear that? That’s like finding a unicorn). This year the show of choice is Mozart’s classic Don Giovanni as performed by Washington National Opera.

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Arlington, Entertainment, Interviews, Music, Night Life, People, The Features, We Love Music

Q&A with Justin Trawick

Justin Trawick is a local singer-songwriter, band frontman, and musical entrepreneur.  In addition to his exhaustive solo performance schedule he has created a series called The 9, that packages nine singer-songwriters into one show, joining their forces to create a theatrical and diverse night of entertainment. We Love DC’s Alexia Kauffman sat down with Justin to talk about his endeavors.

Alexia Kauffman: So first can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and what is on your plate right now?

Justin Trawick: I’m a musician in the area. I’ve been doing music full-time for about four years. I live in Arlington, and I play most of my shows in the Washington, DC area, and then I go out of town, a lot of east coast shows up and down from Boston down to Georgia. And I play in a lot of cities around the country via airplane- I go to Austin and L.A. a lot. Continue reading

Arlington, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: The 1K Beer Walk

Photo courtesy of jcm_DC
courtesy of jcm_DC

If you’ve ever wanted to run a marathon but worry about whether your beer gut will slow you down, Washington Wine Academy‘s DC School of Beer has a perfect solution: the Beer Walk!

The beer walk took place last Saturday and Sunday – a week after the wine walk – in the underground maze of the Crystal City Shops. Both “Beer Walk” and “Wine Walk” are pretty self-explanatory.

After you sign in and show ID, you pick up your race number, t-shirt, glass, and drink tickets. With twenty tickets and generous pours, a $20-$35 ticket (depending on the day/time of the heat you sign up for) will get you feeling pretty good – especially if it’s only 2pm when you start, like it was for me.

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Arlington, Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Macbeth

Irakli Kavsadze and Irina Tsikurishvili in Synetic Theater's 2011 production of Macbeth. Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

What would you do for absolute power? Could you kill your friend? Murder children? Call it justice? Watch out. On the path to conquering the world, you might lose your soul. “Fair is foul and foul is fair…”

There’s a gasp-inducing moment in Synetic Theater‘s production of Macbeth that focuses it as a straight-up morality tale. Lady Macbeth, in the last throes of madness induced by guilt, slides into a hellish hole like blood down a drain. It’s terrifying, as Irina Tsikurishvili’s eyes roll around and the watching witches smile demonically in approval.

It’s hard to remember there once was a time when Synetic seemed to come out of nowhere, with images like this one shaking up the DC theatre scene. Their physically combustive style was almost subversive in its daring. Now that they’re more established, at home in Crystal City, they could easily rest on the accolades gained by their current signature style of Silent Shakespeare, and audiences might not blame them for it. But I doubt there will be much resting by Synetic’s driven artistic team, and I’m interested to see what they come up with in the next phase.

Before they move on with new explorations of world physical theater next year, their Silent Shakespeare Festival Speak No More revives three of their popular wordless adaptations – Macbeth, Othello (my personal favorite) and Romeo & Juliet. Each run will be just about three weeks – Macbeth closes October 2.

This revival of the 2007 production is darkly militaristic. Forget the tartan. Bring on the choke chain.

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Arlington, Food and Drink, People, Special Events, The Features

Mondavi Salutes Local Hero

Photo courtesy of
‘Alison Kindler’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Interest in gardening is on the rise, from my neighbors growing tomatoes in patio containers to community gardens bursting with multiple produce plots. Increasingly there’s a practical need to provide access to affordable food through growing your own. Early this week I attended an intimate event honoring a local community gardening hero. It was by far one of the more inspiring evenings I’ve spent in a while, whose honoree proves that persistence to a simple idea and dedication to helping others can result in good for all.

For the past three years, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi has supported Giving Through Growing, a partnership program with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA). This year they’ve awarded $40,000 to four community gardening ‘Heroes’ who made the grade in a nationwide contest, and Arlington’s Alison Kindler of the Fort Barnard Community Garden is one. Top Chef alum Candice Kumai is the GTG ambassador, and she was also on hand to salute Kindler’s efforts to enrich our community through growing fresh food for urban families. Fort Barnard has been in operation since 1975 – they even have their own bee hives! The garden works closely with the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), which helps provide groceries to families in need. Some 8% of Arlingtonians live below the poverty line and the percentage is increasing – AFAC distributes to over 1,200 families each week. Fort Barnard dedicates one of their garden plots exclusively to AFAC.

Kindler started gardening at Fort Barnard some twenty years ago, with a plot as a Father’s Day present for her husband. “Here, honey, you can go play in the dirt,” she quipped, but her main motivation at the time was really to grow organic produce and be able to put “healthy, safe food on the table.” Continue reading

Arlington, Food and Drink

Top Dog Half-Smoke Challenge

Photo courtesy of
‘Top Dog – Jackson 20 & The Grille’
courtesy of ‘Hans Bruesch-Olsen’

The half-smoke is a venerable DC institution, dating back to the 1930s when Briggs & Company Meatpackers combined equal mixtures of coarsely ground beef and pork. Locals and tourists alike flock to Ben’s Chili Bowl and various cart vendors around the Mall to experience this glorious bit of Washingtonian foodstuff.
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Arlington, Food and Drink, The Features

Beer Dinners at Lyon Hall

Lyon Hall's Ommegang Beer Dinner

Beer dinners have been growing in prevalence and popularity in the area as the number of beer-inspired restaurants and bars continue to build. Pizzeria Paradiso, Birch and Barley, and Meridian Pint have all played host to beer-pairing dinners, and you may now add Lyon Hall of Clarendon to the mix.

Tuesday saw their first beer dinner since opening just under a year ago, and I was lucky to attend as a guest of the restaurant’s beer director, David McGregor. He’s long planned to do the pairings, which will occur on the first Tuesday of every month, and finally had the opportunity to start this week. Talk with David and you’ll sense his sincere passion towards all things malt and mash, and a genuine excitement to share in his explorations of their interplay with deftly prepared dishes.

For the inaugural dinner, David invited in Brewery Ommegang’s local director, Steve Cardello, and together with Lyon Hall’s chef de cuisine, Andy Bennett, put on a four-course meal catered to and built around the flavors and textures of Ommegang’s classic and unique offerings.

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Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Iota Club & Cafe Offers More than Music

Photo courtesy of
‘Coffee and Kerouac’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Finding a place to lounge and sip coffee in this city is easier said than done. But for those of you in Clarendon, that quest just got a little easier. Iota Club & Cafe has now launched iotaday, a sandwich and coffee lounge with a new walk-up counter.

The music venue has expanded their food selection to include light breakfast, lunch and dinner options. You can grab brunch there up until 3:00 PM on weekends. Locavores, you’ll be happy to see that Iota’s coffee options come from the Annapolis-based roasting company, Caffe Pronto and the pastries are from Chef Jessica Knudson of Hawthorne’s Fine Breakfast Pastry. While I can’t speak from experience (yet), the descriptions of their “smasher” panini sandwiches are enough to make me want to metro out to Arlington for some mid-day noshing.

The newly renovated bars and seating areas will have free Wi-Fi, so you can sip and lounge and maybe even get a little work done. Iota is open from 6:30 AM on weekdays and from 8:00 AM on weekends and holidays.

Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Rustico Ballston Adds Brunchytimes

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Paige Weaver’

Ballston is popping these days with some of my favorite restaurants. Since the new Sweetgreen location started dishing up salads, and Buzz promises to open thier doors soon, what I once considered a foodie dead spot (minus Willow) is now on my radar. Especially with the news that the Ballston location of Rustico has launched Sunday brunch, which they began serving on Jan. 2. Continue reading

Arlington, Entertainment, The Daily Feed

Food Network TV To Film At Arlington’s Liberty Tavern

Photo courtesy of
‘so long, cerveza!’
courtesy of ‘staceyviera’

The DC area is no stranger to food shows all around cable, and today Food Network makes a visit to Arlington’s Liberty Tavern where crews will be filming in Clarendon this morning and evening for the show, Meat & Potatoes.” The show features chef Rahm Fama as he travels country talking about, what else, meat.

Liberty Tavern, known for curing and preparing cuts of meats in house, features a meat-heavy menu according to General Manager Sean Lowder. I had the opportunity to talk with him over the phone and he sounded excited for Liberty’s first appearance on National television.  The crew worked all weekend cleaning everything up for their big moment on TV.

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Arlington, Food and Drink, We Love Food

First Look: Bayou Bakery


Sometimes I think that Courthouse is a dead zone for food. If I want actual chef-driven food I go to Ray’s, or I walk up to Clarendon. No longer! David Guas is here to save Courthouse and his new place Bayou Bakery is my new neighborhood gem for the area.

The New Orleans themed eat place serves up beingets, chicory coffee, and delicious sandwiches on fluffy hoagie rolls made from local ingredients. In the morning, people stop in for coffee and breakfast; Guas recommends the yogurt made from a Pennsylvania dairy topped with homemade granola. The lunch crowd rushes in for sandwiches and savory fare, sitting up front in booths and stand-alone tables. Settle down and sip some cider or hot chocolate in the back section with overstuffed chairs and couches and wireless internet. At night, Bayou turns into a date spot, with a good selection of beers and wines by the glass. Continue reading

Arlington, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Arlington County Police To Ticket Jaywalkers This Morning In Rosslyn

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

If you live in the DC Metro Area, or if you have been a pedestrian any time of your life, then you probably have crossed the street when you weren’t supposed to. Maybe you were impatient for the lights to change and there weren’t any cars in the street. Perhaps you enjoy living a real-life game of frogger on your way to Starbucks. We all know it’s technically illegal but who’s going to get a ticket for jaywalking?

Well if you work or live in Rosslyn you might end up with a ticket if you don’t follow the pedestrian rules of the road this morning.

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Arlington, Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Cabaret

I consider myself a very lucky person.

Theatre was never in the cards for me when I signed up to produce the high school production of “Noises Off!” as an after-school activity. Now eight years later I recently completed stage managing a production of Noises Off! as my first gig with a professional theatre company.

After signing up for that high school production I went on to produce over 12 shows in high school and college- then I stopped. I moved to the DC area and I walked away from theatre. Continue reading

Arlington, The Daily Feed

Crystal City adds roadway tramp-stamp

Crystal City Road Tattoo: "Labor Line"

Last year, Vermont Avenue because the first street in DC to sport a fancy asphalt tramp stamp, and now Crystal City’s 18th Street in Arlington is joining the club, with a Steed Taylor-created “Labor Line”, as pictured above.  The design appears to be an evolution of an earlier Taylor piece called Evelyn’s Knot.

Personally, I’m not sure I understand the value of the road tattoos, and the coloring of the asphalt, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Ganges Grill and Ice Cream A New Alternative To Crowded Clarendon Sub Scene

There’s no shortage of Sub shops in Clarendon/Courthouse. Between Earl’s and the chain options of Subway & Cosi, there’s more than enough options if you want lunch meats in between two slices of bread.

However, I became interested with the arrival of a new sub shop on Washington Blvd. The former Quizno’s location was now draped with banners reading, “Ganges Grill and Ice Cream.” I decided to walk across the street from the Subway (where I am currently mayor on foursquare) to find out more.

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Adventures, Arlington, Business and Money, Food and Drink, Life in the Capital, The Daily Feed

Curious Case of the Chesapeake Cookie

chesapeake cookie

I’m all about dark chocolate. I’m all about pecans. I’m all about putting them together with cookie dough.  Therefore, I’m all about Pepperidge Farm’s Chesapeake Dark Chocolate Pecan cookies. However, I’m confused about why this cookie carries the “Chesapeake” name.

According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, most pecans are grown and shelled in the southeastern and southwestern United States, with Alabama leading the way as the state with the largest amount of pecan production; the closest the DC area gets on this list is the #12 spot occupied by North Carolina.

OK, so maybe the Chesapeake region isn’t the epicenter for pecans. What about dark chocolate? Maybe, unbeknownst to me,  the Chesapeake area is known for its dark chocolate. The answer is no. Approximately 70% of the world’s cacao, the nut that is used to make chocolate, comes from West Africa with Oceania, Asia, and Central and South America rounding out the pack. And when it comes to turning the cacao beans into chocolate, the Chesapeake region comes up pretty much empty handed, unless you’re talking about the chocolate coloring of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

So, I’m still pretty stumped as to why Pepperidge Farm gave this cookie its name. Perhaps there’s some secret dark chocolate, pecan Freemasons society sending secret messages through these seemingly innocuous and delicious cookies? Or perhaps maybe I’m just missing the connection? Anyone got the answer?

Adams Morgan, Arlington, Dupont Circle, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter

Hibernation Schedule for D.C. Area Farmers Markets

Photo courtesy of
‘Late Season Harvest.’
courtesy of ‘leedav’

Now is that time of year when you wake up a little late Saturday morning and have that mental debate with yourself over whether to get up or roll over and sleep until it’s sunny again. Last year around this time I was having that very same fight, when I bribed myself to get out of bed by heading to the local farmers market…just to find out it had closed the weekend before. It’s tough to keep all the closing dates straight, so read on and find your local market and its closing date, or check out the ones that stay open even when it’s frigid outside. Everyone loves shivering in front of their veggie purveyor.

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Arlington, Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

District Taco Offers Free Tacos, Chips & Salsa For A Day If It Reaches 10,000 Followers

Full disclosure: I am a fan of District Taco. I am part of the NMS crew that make up the Mexican food cart’s biggest fans. We rallied for them when they got booted from Rosslyn. I am writing this post with a District Taco lunch in my stomach.

But don’t worry, what I’m about to say is something that is good for everyone if we can pull it off.

District Taco currently has around 1,800 followers on Twitter. They want to up that number significantly- say to about 10,000.

A very daunting task. But the rewards? Free tacos for a day.

That’s right. Free tacos, chips & salsa for a day if District Tacos gain the 8,000+ followers it needs to reach 10K.

Now who doesn’t love tacos? Who doesn’t love free tacos? And for those that have had the pleasure to have dined there, who doesn’t love a District Taco?

So round up your Tweeps- District Taco is looking for some followers and if you decided to help them out you could be enjoying free tacos.