Dress rehearsal of Theatre Lab’s Musical Institute for Teens Production of Rent / Photo by Paul Oberle
Founded by Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro, The Theatre Lab’s mission is to transform lives through theater by making training accessible to everyone, regardless of age, income, or experience level.
The Theatre Lab leads programs and classes ranging from beginner to professional level. They also develop numerous initiatives for marginalized populations within DC, including giving out more than $78,000 in scholarships to disadvantaged students each year.
Perhaps most notably, The Theatre Lab’s Life Stories program teaches people from typically marginalized populations like incarcerated and at-risk youth, seniors, critically ill children, and homeless women in recovery to create original dramatic works based on their real-life experiences.
On November 12, DC’s Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts celebrated 20 years at its annual Cabaret Benefit. For the organization’s anniversary, founder Deb Gottesman was kind enough to talk with me about The Theatre Lab’s progress over the last two decades.
My Lovely Wife and I went to see Second Line, by Seret Scott, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center last week. What a great show. From the show’s website:
Spanning a 20-year period of tumultuous social change, Seret Scott’s Second Line is the story of two black college students whose lives are shaped by the stormy events of the 1960s and ’70s. Bennie and JoJo are in love, but their commitment is tested by the upheaval of the civil rights movement and Vietnam.
The story chronicles a 20-year love that was certainly tested by time, as the description says, but moreso by conflict. Outwardly by the ones listed above, but more deeply by interpersonal dynamics and differing opinions on their roles in society. Was it more important to be active in achieving change in society or was it more important to keep your head down and rise from within? Is there a greater obligation to oneself or to society? How should one go about satisfying that obligation?