Studio Theatre produces exceptional contemporary theatre in deliberately intimate spaces, fostering a more thoughtful, more empathetic, and more connected community, in Washington, DC and beyond.

Studio History

Studio exterior 2022 renovation

Photo credit: Ken Wyner.

1978: Joy Zinoman founds Studio Theatre, an outgrowth of the Joy Zinoman Studio, the acting conservatory she founded three years prior. Zinoman launches Studio’s pilot season in a shared space on Rhode Island Avenue in Logan Circle with a production of The Rimers of Eldritch by Lanford Wilson.

1979: Studio moves to a long-term home on Church Street, building a theatre in a former warehouse for hot dog carts, where it continues to produce theatre until 1987.

1987: Studio relocates and leases space in a building that remains part of our current complex at 14th and P Streets NW, opening the Mead Theatre with a production of North Shore Fish by Israel Horovitz. Studio also hosts the inaugural production of its Special Events series.

1988: Studio 2ndStage is born, an outgrowth of Studio’s Conservatory and a training ground for early-career actors and directors. Over its 27 years, 2ndStage will produce 79 plays and nine readers theatre series.

1997: Studio purchases the building at 14th and P and builds a second theatre, the Milton, which allows Studio to alternate shows between theatres and extend successful shows.

2004: Studio expands and renovates a three-building performance and training complex, adding the Metheny Theatre and Stage 4 and bringing its total number of theatres—none of which seat more than 225 patrons—to four.

2005: Studio pilots an Apprentice program for early-career artists and administrators. In 2006, it officially launches the program with a six-member class. Today, Studio welcomes 11-13 apprentices each season.

2006: Studio raises $4.5 million to purchase and renovate two townhouses: one to provide free housing for its new Apprentice program, ensuring this training is accessible to a more candidates, and a second to house visiting artists. With this new townhouse and some condos Studio already owned, the Theatre can now house up to 8 out-of-town artists at a time.

2010: Founding Artistic Director Joy Zinoman retires after leading Studio for 32 years, and David Muse becomes Studio’s next Artistic Director.

2011: With the world premiere of Lungs by Duncan Macmillan, Studio inaugurates Studio Lab, a new work laboratory that invites living playwrights into the rehearsal and production process.

2012: Studio purchases and renovates a 3,100 square foot rowhouse within walking distance of the Theatre to better house its growing apprentice class, and converts the former apprentice house into additional visiting artist housing.

2015: Turning Studio’s flexible Stage 4 into a fully operational bar, Murder Ballad is the first in a series of experiments in environmental, immersive staging that will inspire the upcoming Open Studio campaign. It is also the final production of Studio’s Special Event series. In September, Studio launches Studio X, a consolidation of the kind of work we programmed in our Lab, Special Events, and 2ndStage programming streams. Studio also inaugurates Studio R&D, the Theatre’s new work incubator and its vehicle for commissioning playwrights and directors.

2019: After a strategic planning process that assessed resources and key priorities, Studio’s Board and leadership bring Studio’s Acting Conservatory program to a close. The Conservatory becomes an independent organization, under Joy Zinoman’s leadership, in September 2019.

2020: Operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Studio produces a 2020-2021 season consisting entirely of digital work, including two audio plays (a Studio first).

2021: Studio breaks ground on Open Studio, a capital campaign five years in the making and Studio’s largest public renovation in nearly two decades. The centerpiece of the renovation is the Victor Shargai Theatre, a transformation of the formerly fixed-seat Metheny Theatre into a large, flexible space capable of numerous configurations.

2022: Studio completes the Open Studio project, with The Hot Wing King as the first show to open in the new Victor Shargai Theatre.