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Baltimore Central Stage
700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, centerstage.org, (410) 332-0033
Happy Birthday Baltimore Center Stage! For a 60-year-old theater group, you certainly don’t act your age.
As it celebrates six decades of live theater production, Maryland’s state theater might choose — as many regional theaters nationwide have done — to get a little stuffy, a little complacent. As the largest and oldest professional theater company in the Old Line State, it could fill its seasons with yesterday’s classics and tried-and-tested audience favorites.
It might pamper the audience instead of challenging them. But then it wouldn’t be Center Stage.
Since its beginnings, the company founded in 1963 by visionary Peter W. Culman has never been afraid to experiment and take risks: staging financially risky new works, embracing color-blind casting and initiating the audience to unfamiliar voices and perspectives.
Over the past three decades, the theater’s commitment to making things happen has been honed and honed by former artistic directors Irene Lewis and Kwame Kwei-Armah, a trend that Stephanie Ybarra, who has led the company since 2018, has well intend to continue.
“I want to build on what Irene and Kwame have achieved,” Ybarra said.
It’s not that Center Stage is turning away from the classics. The final show of the 2021-22 season was “The Bakkhai,” an ancient Greek tragedy first performed in 405 BC. But two major themes in this 2,400-year-old work are genre fluidity and the dangers of a mob mentality – issues that dominate today’s headlines.
Ybarra also attempts to strengthen Center Stage’s ties to the city and state in which the theater is located.
She launched a series of “Baltimore Butterfly Sessions,” which combine music, poetry, literary excerpts and conversations around issues ranging from climate change to racial violence to media portrayals of Baltimore.
She opened the theater lobby for a blood drive conducted by the American Red Cross and she worked with the NAACP to sponsor a debate among the gubernatorial candidates.
Next season will also feature a new “locally grown” festival of Baltimore artists engaged in different forms of storytelling, from music to spoken word to visual arts.
If the 60th anniversary season will have one unifying theme, Ybarra said, it will be “Our City of Baltimore.”
“We’re going to look at how our city works,” she said. “We’re going to look to the past, but we’re also going to look to the future to ask ourselves what Baltimore and Baltimore Center Stage can be for generations to come.”
Bowling: bar, bowling and bistro in Mustang Alley
Patterson Bowling Center
Forest hill paths
Casino: Maryland Live! Casino
Baltimore Horseshoe Casino
Hollywood Casino Perryville
Charity/Non-Profit Organization: Center Caroline
Hampden Family Center
Archdiocese of Baltimore
Second Chance Inc.
College/University: Towson University
Loyola University of Maryland
Johns Hopkins University
Morgan State University
Dog Park: Patterson Park
Canton Dog Park
Perry Paw Dog Park
Golf Course: Pine Ridge Golf Course
Mount Pleasant Golf Course
Bubble Rock Golf
Greystone Golf Course
Museum: American Visionary Art Museum
Baltimore Museum of Art
The Walters Art Museum
B&O Railway Museum
Park: Patapsco Valley State Park
Oregon Ridge Park and Nature Center
Druids Hill Park
Private school: Loyola Blakefield
Calvert Hall College Secondary School
Mercy High School
St. Louis School
Suburb: Ellicott City Historic District
Theater Company: Baltimore Center Stage
Toby’s dinner theater
Baltimore Rock Opera Society
Baltimore Choral Arts Society (tie)
Unique Carrot Theater (Tie)
Tourist Attraction: American Visionary Art Museum
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Trail: Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail
Gwynns Falls Trail
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Herring Race Park
North Park Loop Trail (Joe K Trail)
Wedding venue: American Visionary Art Museum
The Castle of the Cloisters
Baltimore Museum of Industry