About Us


Two women or actresses with faces painted white dressed in traditional white ornate patterned MAS Carnival costumes holding decorative BOIS used for stick fighting. Photo by Sharon Farmer

Pictured left to right actresses Penelope Spencer , Jean and Rohma Spencer (Dinah) in the Washington, DC premiere of Lordstreet Theatre production of “Jean and Dinah…The Play”. Written/Directed by Tony Hall

The Essential Theatre is comparatively one of a very small number of professional African-American theatre companies in north America. As such we are honored to authentically produce and celebrate theatre as a fine art from a compelling and unique perspective not consistently seen in the metropolitan region. In so doing, we give focus, depth and girth to our unique, rich narrative by illuminating a wellspring of culturally historic contributions and how they re-language America’s landscape from our own unique perspective.

As we share our art and how it impacts the vast diverse cultural landscape, we take serious our role as purveyors of a profoundly glorious cultural history that celebrates the triumphs and travails of the African and African American Diaspora.

We believe this celebration of our deep cultural voice most affective when an inclusive approach is utilized thereby broadening the knowledge base of both participants and
attending patrons .

World premiere of “People for Whom the World Spins and Turns,” by James J. Hsiao, MD Photo by Sharon Farmer


Our identity is that of an African American Theatre company that Celebrates America’s rich, diverse cultural landscape giving focus to the African continent as the cradle of human civilization. We strive through our own optical lenses for what we believe is a multi-cultural approach in our achievement of production and its creation. The multi ethnic artists whom we employ and service in our programs range from Directors to actors, playwrights and technical personnel.

The Essential Theatre champions diversity in the workplace and does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, ethnic origin, political affiliation or disability.

We have a sincere belief that all individuals must feel free to explore the uniqueness of their cultural voice and identity while developing the public’s understandings of the cultural diversity that exists in the world. We believe that valued cultural diversity is an imperative to developing respect and understanding that can be transformative.


Performance Schedule unless other wise noted:

Limited Thursdays matinees @ 1:00 PM, Fridays and Saturdays @ 7:30 PM

Saturday and Sunday matinees @ 4 PM

* Please be sure to check performance schedule and times.


It's Essential!

A woman in white lab coat smiling for the camera.

"My community service with the organization ultimately helped me to grow & develop over the years in high school and has taught me how to gladly and willingly take on responsibility as a future leader."

Photo and quote by Dr. Ijeoma Odigwe, Former student volunteer

We gratefully acknowledge major support from

Arts Forward Fund a Component fund of:

  • Paul M. Angell Family Foundation
  • Diane & Norman Bernstein Foundation
  • The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
  • Greater Washington, DC Community Foundation, NCR
  • Lois and Richard England Family Foundation
  • Philip L. Graham Fund
  • Harman Family Foundation
  • Linowitz Family Fund
  • Weissberg Foundation