Theatre Washington’s “Summer Hummer” benefits the local theater community

Local actors show support -- and skin -- in annual fundraiser

Summer Hummer: Nova Y. Payton and Austin Colby Photo by Christopher O. Banks

Summer Hummer: Nova Y. Payton and Austin Colby
Photo by Christopher O. Banks

“If women make 70 percent of what men make, artists make 40 percent of that,” Brad Watkins of theatreWashington says. “A lot of people work very hard for less money than they might be worth.”

Certainly actors and other performers working in the D.C. area often make less money than they might need at bill time, or after a medical emergency. About three years ago, theatreWashington, which serves the region’s thriving theater community and organizes the annual Helen Hayes Awards, started the Taking Care of Our Own initiative. “[It's a way] to try to do something to help theater professionals who were in trouble,” says Watkins, theatreWashington’s director of theater services. Now in its third year, the organization’s Summer Hummer has become one its key ways of showing support. Last year’s event raised $25,000 for the cause.

“It’s become the most original thing in Washington in some ways,” Watkins asserts. Where else can you see 60 theater professionals from all areas of the theater community pooling their talents on one stage for maximum impact? Each year the Summer Hummer has gotten a little crazier, with a little more burlesque and a little more skin thrown into the ribald mix to create “a naughty farce of sorts.” And on a Monday night, no less.

Above all — or at least above the belt — it’s inspiring. “It’s very touching,” Watkins says, “to see all these people coming together and giving up their night off to help raise money for their peers that run into a problem…or don’t have the funds or the resources or the insurance…This is just a way for us all to help each other out.”

Summer Hummer: Ménage a Trois is Monday, Aug. 18, at 8 p.m., at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets are $35, or $75 for premium reserved seating. Call 202-337-4572 or visit theatrewashington.org.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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