Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Company logo
TypeTheatre group
PurposeNew Plays/World Premieres
Artistic director(s)
Maria Manuela Goyanes

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is a non-profit theatre company located at 641 D Street NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1980, it produces new plays which it believes to be edgy, challenging, and thought-provoking. Performances are in a 265-seat courtyard-style theater.

Woolly Mammoth is led by Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes, a celebrated American theatre producer, and Managing Director Emika Abe.


Woolly Mammoth exterior during run of Second City's "Spoiler Alert, Everybody Dies"
Woolly Mammoth exterior during run of Second City's "Spoiler Alert, Everybody Dies"
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Lobby
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Lobby
A Woolly Mammoth PWYC Line
A Woolly Mammoth PWYC Line

Woolly Mammoth was founded by Howard Shalwitz, Roger Brady, and Linda Reinisch in 1980. "While working odd jobs to make money, we held our first auditions outdoors in Glover Park and started improvisatory workshops in the auditorium of the HHS building."[1] It opened its first season in The Church of the Epiphany parish hall near Metro Center.[1] Outgrowing this initial home, the company rented a warehouse in the 14th Street corridor, where it performed for 13 years. When that space ceased to be available, Woolly Mammoth became a nomad company, performing in various venues in the DC area. During this period the company worked with the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation to acquire space for and to outfit a new theatre.[2]

"Woolly's goal is to challenge our artists and our audiences in ways that are fun and exciting and theatrically adventurous. People can enjoy Woolly who are Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, because we're trying to come at audiences from unexpected points of view. We would rather be politically challenging and uncomfortable and prickly and put images in front of people that make them think and surprise them, rather than just congratulating our audience for being the people they are."[3]

Opened in 2005, its permanent home is a $9 million, 265-seat courtyard-style theater. It was designed by Washington-based architect Mark McInturff[4] in association with Theatre Project Consultants.[5] The space has won local, regional, and national awards for innovative architectural design, including the American Institute of Architects 2006 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture[6] and the US Institute for Theatre Technology Honor Award.[7]

In 2018, Woolly Mammoth hired Maria Manuela Goyanes as its Artistic Director, succeeding founder Howard Shalwitz. Goyanes is known for her production successes at the Public Theater in New York as well as for being a theater educator and leader.

Plays that have premiered at Woolly Mammoth have been produced in more than 200 theaters in 39 states and 12 countries.[8]

The theatre's education and outreach programs include "Pay-What-You-Can" (PWYC) performances providing access to all residents regardless of economic means,[9][10] and "Playmaking," which pairs students with professional playwrights.[11] "Woolly D.C." is a program where a neighborhood joins together to create an original production based on an issue of common community concern, and there are internships, workshops, and theater classes, including a partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park.[12]

Current and recent productions

For resident theatre companies "repertory is destiny" – a theatre company acquires its audience by the productions it presents.[13] Woolly Mammoth's productions are new plays that "explore the edges of theatrical style and human experience."[14]







  • Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi
  • The Russians Are Coming! A Festival Of Radical New Theatre From Moscow, created and performed by artists from the Meyerhold Centre, Dmitry Krymov Laboratory, Gogol Center, and Praktika Theatre. This production was canceled due to the political fallout from 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[16]
  • Famous Puppet Death Scenes, created and performed by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop from Alberta Canada.[1]
  • Cherokee by Lisa D'Amour
  • Lights Rise On Grace by Chad Beckim
  • Zombie: The American by Robert O'Hara


  • Detroit by Lisa D'Amour
  • Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
  • We Are Proud To Present A Presentation About The Herero Of Namibia, Formerly Known As South West Africa, From The German Sudwestafrika, Between The Years 1884–1915 by Jackie Sibblies Drury
  • Arguendo created and performed by Elevator Repair Service
  • The Totalitarians By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
  • Just The Two Of Each Of Us, created and performed by The Pajama Men


Notable playwrights and productions

Woolly Mammoth has produced works by the following playwrights in the seasons indicated:[17]


In 2014 Howard Shalwitz was awarded the Margo Jones Award for his founding and direction of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company[23]

Overall, the company has earned over 130 Helen Hayes nominations and won 35 Helen Hayes Awards.[24][25] Its more prestigious awards include:


Woolly Mammoth is a member of the National New Play Network,[27] Theatre Communications Group, the League of Washington Theaters, and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington. The theatre's programs are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program of United States Commission of Fine Arts.


Woolly Mammoth is a Blue Star Theatre – part of a collaboration between the Theatre Communications Group and Blue Star Families offering discounted admission to all military personnel, their families and U.S. veterans.[28]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Wooly Mammoth Famous Puppet Death Scenes Program Book. Washington DC: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. December 9, 2012. p. ii.
  2. ^ Woolly Mammoth website
  3. ^ Dicker, Matthew (February 27, 2014). "Woolly Mammoth is 'Proud to Present'". Washington Times. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  4. ^ McInturff Architects website
  5. ^ Theatre Project Consultants website
  6. ^ American Institute of Architects website
  7. ^ United States Institute for Theatre Technology website
  8. ^ Woolly Mammoth website
  9. ^ TheEagleOnline.com
  10. ^ Michael O'Sullivan (November 13, 2009). "Weekend-Frugal Fun-Theater". The Washington Post. p. 27. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  11. ^ StudioTheatre.org
  12. ^ University of Maryland website
  13. ^ TCG.org
  14. ^ "About Woolly". Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  15. ^ Pressley, Nelson; Pressley, Nelson (2016-05-02). "DC Theater 2016–17: An early user's guide". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  16. ^ Marks, Peter (April 21, 2014). "Woolly cancels Russian theater festival amid chilled Russian-American relations". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  17. ^ Woolly Mammoth production history
  18. ^ Horwitz, Jane (March 12, 2008). "Playing With Provocation". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ Marks, Peter (October 22, 2011). "A Bright New Boise". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013.
  20. ^ BroadwayWorld.com
  21. ^ ChicagoTheaterBlog.com
  22. ^ Marks, Peter (June 5, 2012). "Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013.
  23. ^ "Margo Jones Award Recipients". Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute. Ohio State University Libraries. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Helen Hayes Awards Search Recipients – Woolly Mammoth". Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  25. ^ Goodman, Lawrence, "Making Audiences Think," Brown Alumni Monthly, March/April 2014, p. 43
  26. ^ a b "2014 Helen Hayes Awards Nominees". Theatre Washington.
  27. ^ National New Play Network website
  28. ^ "Blue Star Theatres". Theatre Communications Group. Retrieved June 1, 2013.