VA -- Vienna -- Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts -- backstage tour:
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- Wikipedia Description: Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, known locally in the Washington, D.C. area as simply Wolf Trap, is a performing arts center situated in a setting of rolling hills and woods located on 130 acres (0.53 kmē) of national park land in Vienna, Virginia. Through the unique partnership and collaboration of the National Park Service and the non-profit Wolf Trap Foundation, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts offers both natural and cultural resources.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts began as a gift to the American people from Catherine Filene Shouse. Encroaching roads and suburbs inspired Mrs. Shouse to preserve this former farm as a park. In 1966 Congress accepted Mrs. Shouse's gift and authorized Wolf Trap Farm Park (its original name) as the first national park for the performing arts. On August 21, 2002 the park's name was changed to its present one, thus reflecting its mission while keeping the historical significance of this area.
In the year 2000, Wolf Trap debuted the Face of America program which was created “to celebrate the country’s national parks and to honor the relationship between nature and the creative process."
Performing arts venues:
Presently, the Wolf Trap Foundation organizes and runs several distinct elements as part of the whole. These are:
* Filene Center
This is the major indoor/outdoor performance venue with seating for 7,000 both under cover and on the lawn in a more casual style. Performances are given nightly from May to early September and cover a wide range of musical styles from country music to opera.
In the summer of 1971, sixty young musical performers were chosen for training in music, dance and acting, to culminate in a production in the newly conceived Filene Center. The inaugural season opening was delayed one month due to a fire that destroyed most of the nearly built center. But when finally completed, the theatre, constructed of Oregon redcedar, was a ten-story-high facility equipped with a computerized lighting system and sophisticated sound equipment.
As Wolf Trap was preparing for its 12th season, tragedy struck once again. On April 4, 1982, a fire of undetermined origin, intensified by high gusting winds, destroyed the Filene Center. Almost immediately the Wolf Trap Foundation, the park's non-profit partner, announced that a 1982 season would still take place in a huge tent erected in the meadow.
The second Filene Center is made of douglas-fir with a yellow pine ceiling. It includes a smoke/fire detection and suppression system, as well as fire retardant wood. The new amphitheater was also built with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment.
* The Barns at Wolf Trap
Wolf Trap's indoor venue is a casual performance space which operates year-round and offers a very wide variety of entertainment possibilies. It seats 382.
* Wolf Trap Opera Company
This young Company, established in 1971, has developed into a quality resident ensemble program for young opera singers. Its mission is to discover and encourage emerging talent in the opera field and it serves young singers of achievement and potential by giving them training and performance experience with fully-staged performances each summer at the Filene Center and The Barns.
* Meadow Pavilion
* Theatre in the Woods
Wolf Trap offers a wide variety of education programs for all ages both locally and nationally. Programs include the "Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts" for preschoolers through adult learners.
Donation of the land:
Early records of Fairfax County show that wolves ran wild in the area we know today as Wolf Trap and that it was a popular area to trap wolves for bounty. As the years went by and more people populated the land, wolves became less prevalent. In August, 1739, J.M. Warner was surveying land and "Wolf Trap Creek," a branch of Difficult Run, appeared on his survey . The name Wolf Trap, therefore, has been a part of Virginia’s history for nearly 260 years. In 1930, Catherine Filene Shouse purchased approximately 53 acres (21 ha) of this land to begin with and chose to retain this historical name. By 1956, her parcels of this land totaled 168 acres (68 ha).
She bought the land primarily to give her children a chance on weekends to escape the hectic pace of Georgetown, Washington DC. They grew corn, wheat, alfalfa, and oats to provide food for their chickens, ducks, turkeys, and milk cows. They also raised horses and built a stable and hay barn to accommodate them. Eventually, they operated a kennel that produced champion boxers, miniature pinchers, and Weimaraner dogs. Wanting to share nature with her friends, she often held informal lawn suppers and carnivals on the farm.
In the early 1960's, with impending urbanization moving closer, Mrs. Shouse began seeking a way to preserve her land. Thus came the question of how to use the land separating her property from the forty acres (16 ha) that would be used for the Dulles Access Road. By this time, Mrs. Shouse had visited theaters and auditoriums all over the world, especially in Europe. In 1965, she offered a portion of her land to the Department of The Interior, National Park Service, to be used specifically and exclusively for the performing arts. The offer was accepted, by means of an Act of Congress in 1966.
First performance seasons:
For the first performances at the Filene Center, Robert Lewis, founder of The Actors Studio and acclaimed Broadway director, was chosen to conduct the training program and direct the production called Musical Theatre Cavalcade. With a mulimedia set by Leo Kerz, choreograhy by Gemeze de Lappe, and musical direction by Johnny Green, the Cavalcade was a history of musical theater from The Beggar's Opera to Hair. Then President and Mrs. Nixon attended the opening night performance and afterwards invited the entire cast to the White House for a reception.
The first dozen seasons saw many performances and events of historical significance. In 1976, the Scottish Military Tattoo, a Bicentennial gift from Britain, performed at the Filene Center for capacity audiences including Britain's Prince Philip. The following year, the People's Republic of China's performing arts ensemble entertained Wolf Trap's audience with acrobatic troupes and dancers in one of the first cultural exchanges between China and the United States. In 1971, the National Folk Festival was the first event at Wolf Trap to use the park grounds (versus Filene Center itself) for performances, and it set a precedent for other events at Wolf Trap to do the same. From 1971 until the early eighties, the National Folk Festival was held at Wolf Trap.
Other highlights included Sara Caldwell's production of War and Peace, the Royal Ballet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the annual US National Symphony Orchestra's 1812 Overture concerts with live cannons and Beverly Sills' 1981 farewell appearance.
Following yet another Filene Center fire, the 1982 and 1983 Wolf Trap seasons took place in a huge tent-like structure known as the Meadow Center. The prefabricated structure, purchased with private and government funds, was disassembled from its previous site in the United Arab Emirates and transported to Wolf Trap through the generosity of the government of Saudi Arabia. Volunteers provided much of the labor needed to erect the structure.
An Act of Congress
Public Law 89-671
89th Congress, S. 3423
October 15, 1966
To provide for the establishment of the Wolf Trap Farm Park in Fairfax County,Virginia, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that for the purpose of establishing in the National Capital area a park for the performing arts and related educational programs, and for recreation use in connection therewith, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to establish, develop, improve, operate, and maintain the Wolf Trap Farm Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. The park shall encompass the portions of the property formerly known as Wolf Trap Farm and Symphony in Fairfax County, Virginia, to be donated for park purposes to the United States, and such additional lands or interests therein as the Secretary may acquire for purposes of the park by donation or purchase with donated or appropriated funds, the aggregate of which shall not exceed one hundred and forty-five acres [58.7 ha].
Sec. 2. The Secretary of the Interior shall administer the park in accordance with the provisions of section 1 of this Act and the Act of August 25, 1916 (39 Stat. 535; 16 U.S.C. 1–4), as amended and supplemented.
Sec. 3. There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may appropriation be necessary, but not in excess of $600,000, per annum to carry out the purposes of this Act.
Approved October 15, 1966.
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