Founded in 1992, The Theatre Lab is Washington, D.C.’s largest and most comprehensive independent, nonprofit school for the dramatic arts. Our mission is to transform lives through theatre. We work to make the real-life benefits of theatre training accessible to all regardless of age, income, or experience level. Read about our history.
Through our courses, camps, and programs, The Theatre Lab enrolls over 2,200 kids, teens, and adults a year. Offerings target beginners and veterans alike through a wide range of classes designed to fit busy schedules—summer camps for kids, Saturday acting classes for teens, acting or playwriting classes for rookies, public speaking for non-theatre professionals and more. For those 18 and older preparing for a theatre career, our intensive, year-long Honors Acting Conservatory is the closest thing to graduate-level training students can get without having to quit a job to attend school full-time.
Our distinguished faculty comprises top-notch, working theatre artists who perform, write, or direct theatre around town. “From the horse’s mouth” is how students describe tips they get from our talented faculty.
The Theatre Lab’s uniquely nurturing, inclusive environment is felt through small classes that stress personal and artistic growth. We set high expectations for students at all skill levels. But we believe that all students have limitless potential. Theatre Lab classes boost success on stage and off by teaching skills applicable to a career in theatre or elsewhere. Parents and students tell us that Theatre Lab classes result in heightened confidence, flexibility, social ease, and ability to work on a team. These benefits power success on the larger stage of life, not only in the theatre.
We put into practice our belief that theatre is for everyone by extending theatre education to traditionally underserved populations. We do this by offering tuition assistance and work-study to disadvantaged kids, youths, and adults. In addition, we run innovative, free Life Stories programs for incarcerated and at-risk youth, homeless women, adults and teens in addiction recovery, wounded veterans, and seniors throughout the D.C. metro area. Life Stories gives marginalized individuals a unique opportunity to transform how they view themselves and the world around them through creative self-expression.
Theatre Lab Honors Acting Conservatory grads spend a year in intensive training, and many have gone on to act on the professional stage and in community theatre, and teach theatre arts.
The Theatre Lab has been featured three times in the Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of “the best small charities in Washington.” Our directors have received the prestigious Linowes Leadership Award from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region for their efforts to improve the metropolitan community through accessible arts training. We were received for the Mayor's Art Award for Innovation in the Arts, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has recognized us as one of the 50 “top arts- and humanities-based programs in the country serving youth beyond school hours.”