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Goodbye, 'Scenesters, Until We Meet Again...


Dear’ Scenesters --

This is the saddest email we’ve ever written.


Today is the final day of operations at The Unified Scene Theater. As we announced last month, we, the co-founders and co-owners of the theater, are relocating to Portland, Oregon.

We opened four years ago this month. A journey that found us building a brick-and-mortar space for performers to learn and perform improv, and audiences a place to discover it.

It was hard work -- a lot of sweat and sleepless nights. But shuttering it today is even harder -- because of you and what you gave us in return.

We’re grateful to every one of you: students, performers, theater-goers, the community of friends and family who were patient with us as we pursued this; we’re grateful to our neighborhood (we love you, Bloomindgale!), our city, and, finally, the talented improv scene here in DC that supported us. Thank you, all of you.


Some final thoughts:

Yes, And...: It’s the first rule of improv: be present. Accept the context and information you’re given. Then add more. It’s how we build scenes, worlds, shows, and lives. We think it’s a great way to live your life: accept the good that you might find in your life, world, or community, and then add to that. You’ll be rewarded in ways you never anticipated. Trust us.

The Ten Principles: We, the co-founders, first went to the Burning Man festival nine years ago. It changed our lives, showing us how to live more intentionally and fearlessly. Ten principles, written by by Burning Man founder, the late Larry Harvey, guide the festival, “not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture.” We think they lend themselves well to improv, and, yeah, life.  

Stay Positive: The name for our theater is from the lyrics of a song, “Sweet Payne,” written by Craig Finn, frontman for the band The Hold Steady: “I always dreamed of a unified scene.” Finn was lamenting how fractured the local music scene was in Minneapolis, the band’s home. But Finn could have been writing about any artistic scene, anywhere, from music, art, and performance, to theater and comedy. Not only did we dream of a unified scene, we made that dream a reality. All of us, together. So: hold steady. Unify the scene. And, above all, stay positive.


Shawn Westfall, co-founder & Artistic Director, The Unified Scene Theater
Kathy Baird Westfall, co-founder & Executive Director, The Unified Scene Theater

The Unified Scene Theater
80 T Street NW, Bloomingdale
(August 2015 - August 2019)