By Matt Smith
Since I started this column back in January, my goal has been to find and honor great creative work being done mostly by marketing services agencies headquartered in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. I’ve covered work done by several ad agencies, as well as a particularly excellent piece of direct mail created by the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But what I’ve come to realize is that our area is a hotbed of creativity in lots of other areas beside advertising and marketing, and much of this work is just as terrific and inspirational as the great work emanating from the creative ad shops.
A perfect example is the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, now in its 40th season. This place brings new meaning to “thinking outside the box” and is an ideal remedy for advertising types who are stuck in their office cubes all week in dire need of energetic thought and stimulus. As we all know, we ad types are surrounded by red tape, bureaucratic thinking and 100-page RFPs every day, and if anybody needs a respite and a shot of real creative thinking it’s us. Woolly Mammoth is the place to find it.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. The Washington Post calls Woolly Mammoth, which specializes in the production of new, innovative plays, “the hottest theater company in town.” And The New York Times, which has a reputation for knowing a thing or two about theater, says the troupe is “uniquely plugged into the mad temper of the times.” Located at 641 D Street, NW (right off the corner of 7th & D), the 265-seat courtyard-style theater is perfectly situated in the heart of town, close to the Metro and neighboring museums, the National Mall, restaurants, shops, etc.
The real beauty of Woolly Mammoth is that it’s not your typical theater company, and that’s why it can be so valuable to creative types. This is not the place to go see the umpteenth revival of “Death of a Salesman” or “South Pacific.” This group is much more creative, inventive and risk-taking than that, which to me translates as more interesting, exciting and idea-inspiring.
The company’s upcoming production is “Describe the Night” by Rajiv Joseph, which runs from May 27-June 23. Here’s the play’s synopsis from Woolly Mammoth’s website:
In 1920, Russian Jewish writer Isaac Babel starts a diary while wandering the countryside with the Red Cavalry. In 2010, after the crash of an aircraft carrying the Polish president, his diary is discovered among the wreckage. What did Babel write, and why does it matter so much to a low-level KGB agent who may or may not be Vladimir Putin? Describe the Night uncovers the mystery by tracing the stories of seven lost souls connected across decades by history, fiction, lies, and blood.
Like I said—Arthur Miller and Rodgers and Hammerstein this ain’t.
So climb out of your office cube and let the RFP wait until tomorrow. Get yourself over to Woolly Mammoth Theater and rev up your creative engines.
Matt Smith is founder of SmithGifford, and has close to 40 years’ experience as a creative and agency leader at the nation’s top agencies. SmithGifford is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.
You can find Matt Smith’s earlier columns at Oh, That’s Good.