Carter Barron Amphitheatre (CBA) is located in Rock Creek Park. Initial plans for an amphitheatre in the Brightwood area of Washington, DC began in 1943 when Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. reviewed and commented on the site selection for an amphitheatre. The original plan called for benches to seat about 1,500 and a stage equipped with a movie screen.
This plan was expanded upon by Carter T. Barron in 1947 as a way to memorialize the 150th Anniversary of Washington, DC as the Nation's Capital. As Vice Chairman of the Sesquicentennial Commission, Barron envisioned an amphitheatre where "all persons of every race, color and creed" in Washington could attend musical, ballet, theater and other performing arts productions. The Commission approved the drawings of National Capital Parks (now known as the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS)) Architect William M. Hausman for the new 4,200 seat Sesquicentennial Amphitheatre. Plans called for outfitting the amphitheatre with state-of-the-art technology including a communication system which allowed the stage manager to speak to any actor or stagehand from his desk and the best lighting and sound equipment available at the time. (The original construction cost estimate was $200,000 but the actual cost totaled $563,676.90.)
The amphitheatre opened on August 5, 1950. Paul Green, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and author of the symphonic outdoor drama "The Lost Colony", was commissioned to write the opening season production. "Faith of Our Fathers"was a tribute to George Washington. It met with mixed reviews while the press and theater professionals hailed the Sesquicentennial Amphitheatre itself as the best outdoor theater ever seen. The placement of the amphitheatre maximized the natural acoustics of the bowl of the hill and it quickly became known as a theater with "not a bad seat in the house." In 1965, a curtain and track were added to the stage. In the 1970s, the Feld Brothers added a three-pole circus tent to cover part of the stage which was changed to a truss and canvas roof system by the Shakespeare Theater in cooperation with NPS in 1993. In the early 1990s, the NPS renovated the public restrooms, repaired the roofs, and did some electrical upgrades in the backstage area. A major renovation project is scheduled to begin in the near future.
Category: Theatres - Amphitheatre