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The National Sylvan Theater — more commonly “The Sylvan Theater” — is a sylvan theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, DC, USA.

Location and situation

The Sylvan Theater is located within the northwest corner of the 15th Street and Independence Avenue intersection, about 400 feet (120 m) southeast of the great obelisk of the Washington Monument. A wooden stage is set in a graded depression surrounded by a grove of trees and appears as a sort of natural amphitheater integral to the historic greensward of the monument grounds. A crowd of 10,000 event attendees may stretch from the Theater stage back to the base of the Monument.

History

The Theater was the brainchild of Alice Pike Barney (1857-1931), a campaigner in efforts to transform Washington, D.C. into the nation's cultural capital during the first quarter of the twentieth century. She became known for her lavishly produced, artistically executed ballets, mimes, tableaux, plays, and other theatrical productions. During the First World War, she persuaded the Congress to approve and fund the construction of a "National Sylvan Theater" at its present site. Dedicated on April 4, 1917, it became the nation's first federally supported outdoor theater.

Today, the site is a popular venue for free military concerts, musicals, Shakespeare plays, puppet shows and ballet during the spring, summer and fall. It is also often used for government or other commemorative ceremonies, rallies and protests, and as starting or stopping point for organized marches.

Regular engagements

  • A summer concert series, the Military Band Summer Concert Series is held from June to August, on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday nights at 8 PM at the Sylvan Theater (other venues are used at other times of the year). The bands of each of the four service branches perform (different nights) free al-fresco concerts, typically including military marches, patriotic numbers, and some classical music. Every August Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture is performed with real cannons at the Sylvan Theater, by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) in what is perhaps the U.S. Army Band’s most popular regular engagement.
  • The area and grounds around the Sylvan Theater are fully wheelchair accessible.

Coordinates: 38°53′18″N 77°02′04″W / 38.8883°N 77.0344°W / 38.8883; -77.0344

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