Perisphere Theater produces smart, moving, well-written plays, focusing on those that explore historical events or figures and those that have the topic of history itself as a theme. We aim to be one of the premiere black box theater companies in the DC area and to be the very best at the type of productions we do.
Perisphere Theater is dedicated to performing excellent plays with attention to the clarity of each playwright’s particular style, allowing each unique voice to resonate through our production choices. We believe that all great plays, classical or modern, tragic or comic, have something to say to people from any time and place. With evocative design, compelling direction, and vivid and passionate performances, we aim to engage our audience’s minds as well as touch their hearts. Perisphere embraces both the diversity and the commonality of human experience, finding creative tension and opportunity in exploring these aspects of life through the lenses of different time periods.
As we work toward our goals, we are guided by these values:
- Artistic excellence
- Diversity in our personnel, playwrights, and play subjects
- Belief in history and theater as sources of knowledge and insight
- Engagement with our community, which we define as theater and history enthusiasts throughout the DMV
- Respect for our audience, our artists, and our volunteers
The Inspiration Behind the Name
by Founding Artistic Director Heather Benjamin
The Perisphere and the Trylon were the main symbols of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Subtitled “The World of Tomorrow,” the two-season fair was full of energy and optimism. Some 44 million people toured its exceptional architecture, rides and displays, art exhibits, and showcases of industrial advances. Demonstrations of new technology generated excitement about the role of science in making a better future for the average person.
Pavilions dedicated to different nations acquainted patrons with other cultures and their governments. But in the midst of this gala of progress, in September of the 1939 fair season, Hitler invaded Poland and set World War II into motion. By the fair’s second season in 1940, the pavilions for Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the USSR had shuttered their doors.
The Perisphere is a potent symbol of a particular time, place, and vision. For this company, it served as an inspiration because it is also a symbol of the tension between progress and the cycle of human history. The nature of a globe is such that you can travel a long distance around it, but once again meet the point at which you started. The cycle of history is constant—human nature remains the same, and the things that excite, move, and terrify us on both global and personal scales differ only superficially from one decade, or century, to the next. The past, as well as the future, is only a moment away.