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The Beltway Beat: July 2017
A fresh look at what's new in the Washington metropolitan area

A Hidden Gem Shines This Week in DC

By Pam Schipper

An oasis surrounded by city streets, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is a lush wetland on the banks of the Anacostia River. If you have never been to Kenilworth, you really owe it to yourself to go now. This week marks peak bloom for three-foot-tall lotuses and vibrantly colored lilies. On Saturday, July 22, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., celebrate nature’s beauty and bring a picnic to enjoy the jazz and R&B sounds of Nucleus. And don’t miss the ranger-led night walk around the ponds at 7:30 p.m.

Begun by Civil War veteran Walter Shaw and his daughter, Helen, the lily ponds and wetlands became parkland in 1938. Today, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is the only national park focused on the propagation and cultivation of aquatic plants.

Surrounding the man-made ponds are some of the original tidal wetlands of DC, as well as wetlands altered by the government. When Shaw bought his 30 acres, 7 acres of wetlands were given to him for free because they were viewed as worthless. During the 1960s, the wetlands’ value became understood for their ability to filter water and control floods, as well as offer a natural habitat.  

The park is home to five kinds of frogs. You may hear the snoring sound of the pickerel frogs, the soft quacking noise of the southern leopard frogs, the “glunk” of green frogs, or the moan of the bull frogs. The park also manages habitat for ground nesting, aquatic and woodland birds. Common birds include the Great Blue Heron and Green Heron, the Great Egret, the Bald Eagle and the Tufted Titmouse.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are located at 1900 Anacostia Ave. SE Washington, DC Enter from Anacostia Avenue to visit the gardens, greenhouses, boardwalk trail and visitor center. During the summer (April 1 - October 31), the park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information and a schedule of events, call (202) 692-6080 or visit

Image: A Great Blue Heron looks for fish at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens; photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Two Weekends, Seven Plays


By Pam Schipper

Montgomery Playhouse’s 16th Annual One-Act Festival has it all—comedy, drama, even aliens. The festival runs two weekends, July 21-23 and July 28-30, and features seven plays. Each weekend presents a different lineup so you can attend both, and tickets are only $20.

Each year, the festival presents up-and-coming and/or seldom-seen one-act plays that are just waiting to shine in the limelight. Expertly curated by Montgomery Playhouse, the oldest continuously running community theater in Montgomery County, this festival is once again under the expert eye of David Jones, who has produced it for 15 years.

New this year is the festival’s debut at a different venue, CoMMotion Dance Studio in Germantown. The unconventional space should bring an intimacy to the performances.

In its first weekend, July 21-23, the festival presents four varied works. “20 Questions,” by Rob Gorman, explores the meaning of life as 20 questions are posed. “Confusion in the Midsection,” by David Epstein, details what happens when a man asks a woman to move elsewhere on a plane because his religious beliefs don’t allow him to sit next to a woman. “The Knee to My Heart,” by Chip Bolcik, features two aliens who have come here looking for soil to save their own planet. It gets complicated when one falls in love with Earth. “Two Drink Minimum,” by Emilio Iasiello, follows a young woman who has been stood up in a bar on New Year’s Eve and the men who try to exploit her weakness.

The festival’s second weekend, July 28-30, brings three acts to the stage. “Janus,” by Stephen LaRocque, features a retired man whose work was incorporated into the Nazi economic recovery program, even though his mother was Jewish. “Searching for Hope,” by Farid Bozorgmehr, is about a Persian woman who comes to America in order to save someone back home in Iran. “Swimwear,” by Stephen LaRocque, features the unlikely meeting between a swimwear model abandoned by her photographer and the priest who helps her.

Festival show times are 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Sunday. For more information and tickets, visit or call (301) 977-5751. CoMMotion Dance Studio is located at 13220 Wisteria Dr. Suite N13, Germantown, MD.

Image: “Swimwear” by Stephen LaRocque is directed by Pauline Griller-Mitchell and stars Jen Katz and Matthew Ratz; photo courtesy of Montgomery Playhouse

Free Outdoor Concerts to Celebrate Summer

By Vanessa Mallory Kotz

Ignore those back-to-school sales popping up in every store! We still have another six glorious weeks of summer before Labor Day. So enjoy the weather and pack a picnic to bring along to a free outdoor concert. There are dozens in the DMV, and we’ve picked some of the best for you.

Sunday Art in the Park: Jazz Trio Conversations
Sunday, July 23, 7:00 p.m.
Reston Town Square Park, 11900 Market St. Reston, VA
Robert Larson joins special guests for an evening of jazz trio standards from the Swing era.

SummerSet DC 2017: Words Beats & Life, Tosin Aribisala
Tuesday, July 25, 12:00 p.m.
7th St. and Jefferson St. SW, Washington, D.C.
Words Beats & Life is a Hip-Hop nonprofit that has been serving the DC area for more than 15 years. They are unapologetic advocates for the transformative power of hip-hop culture in all its forms, empowering artists to relentlessly create and refine systems that demonstrate positive change through our individual and collective brilliance.

Summer Concert: U.S. Marine Band – Free Country
Thursday, July 27, 7:30 p.m.
Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd. Glen Echo, MD
Enjoy an evening of Country and Western music with the U.S. Marine Band! Free Country is an ensemble within the United States Marine Band, also known as "The President's Own." The band is made up of world-class musicians who regularly perform a wide range of music for the President and other dignitaries.

Jazz in the Garden: 3Divas
Friday, July 28, 5 p.m.
National Gallery of Art, 401 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Sit by the fountain among world-class sculptures and cool greenery for an evening of relaxing instrumental jazz at the end of a long work week.

Summer Sundays Concerts in the Park: Kara and Matty D

Sunday, July 30, 5:00 p.m.
McLean Central Park, 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd. McLean, VA
This couple makes beautiful music together with great songs from all eras, strong playing, fun chemistry and top-notch vocal harmonies.

National Chamber Ensemble at Lubber Run Amphitheater

Sunday, August 13, 6:00 p.m.
Lubber Run Amphitheater, North 2nd & North Columbus Streets, Arlington, VA
The National Chamber Ensemble is a Society of acclaimed DC-area musicians gathered by violinist and Artistic Director Leonid Sushansky.

Live from the Lawn: Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys
Wednesday, August 16, 7:00 p.m.
Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Ln. North Bethesda, MD
Melding soul, folk and bluegrass, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys play to the heart and soul through warm harmonies and demandingly smoky vocals.

Mount Vernon Nights: The Honey Dewdrops

Saturday, August 19, 6:00 p.m.
Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Rd. Lorton, VA
Americana songwriters and Virginia natives Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish—The Honey Dewdrops’—music is a beautiful and engaging take on modern American roots music and  a testament to the power of home.

Drum Circle with Rainbow Joe

Wednesday, August 23, 7:00 p.m.
Veterans Plaza, One Veterans Pl. Corner of Ellsworth and Fenton, Silver Spring, MD
Rainbow Joe brings his rhythm and creativity to facilitate fun and engaging drum circles for kids of all ages!

Summerbration: The Swingin' Swamis

Friday, August 25, 7:00 p.m.
Reston Station, 1904 Reston Metro Plaza, Reston, VA
First and foremost a party band, The Swingin' Swamis’ songbook is vast, with styles ranging from R&B, Soul and Rock-N-Roll to Contemporary Pop, Jazz, Latin and World Rhythms.'-swamis

Take a Break Concert Series - Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet
Thursday, August 31, 7:00 p.m.
Lake Anne Plaza, 1609 Washington Plaza, N. Reston, VA
For more than two decades, Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has built a loyal audience across five continents with their head-turning original songs and harmonically rich renditions of American Songbook classics.

Image: Rainbow Joe performs at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring on August 23; photo courtesy of Downtown Silver Spring website

Washington Jewish Film Festival, "For Your Consideration"

By Vanessa Mallory Kotz

This August, Eldavitch DCJCC celebrates the art of storytelling through film with a line-up of works that educate, explore beauty and hardship, and entertain. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences invites countries to submit a single film for consideration in the competitive category of Best Foreign Language Film. “For Your Consideration” presents a choice sampling of these submissions, curated by the California Film Institute. This offering a rare opportunity to view some of the most distinguished works in world cinema. From August 9 to 16, the following six films will be screened:

“Afterimage,” Poland
Wednesday, August 9, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 12, 8:30 p.m.
Dir. Andrzej Wajda
(98 min, Poland, 2016)
Polish with English subtitles
In a finale to an illustrious moviemaking career, director Andrzej Wajda (who passed away in October) charts the life of the passionate artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, who battled Stalinist orthodoxy and his own physical impairments to advance his progressive ideas about art. Strzeminski was considered a peer of Kandinsky and a pioneer of the Polish Constructivist avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. For a preview, visit
Special Jury Prize, Polish Film Festival 2016
Co-presented by Embassy of Poland Polish American Arts Association of Washington, DC

“The Black Hen,” Nepal

Wednesday, August 9, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 13, 1:30 p.m.
Dir. Min Bahadur Bham
(90 min, Nepal, 2015)
Nepali with English subtitles
Mixing humor, tragedy and beautiful fantasy, first-time writer/director Min Bahadur Bham borrows from his own experience growing up in a segregated village in Northern Nepal during the Maoist insurgency. The story centers on two boys, inseparable friends divided by caste, who concoct a plan to sell the eggs of a prized and pampered black hen. For a preview, visit
Fedeora Award, Best Film (International Film Critics Week), 2015 Venice Film Festival

“Fire at Sea,” Italy
Thursday, August 10, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 12, 6:00 p.m.
Dir. Gianfranco Rosi
(114 min, Italy, 2015)
Italian with English subtitles
Gianfranco Rosi’s stunning documentary focuses on the tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa, a key entry point for refugees fleeing war and persecution in Africa. Brilliantly juxtaposing the lives of local residents like young Samuele, a slingshot aficionado and his doting grandmother, with heart-wrenching portraits of the refugees, “Fire at Sea” reveals the subtle connections between the micro and macro realities of our globalized world. For a preview, visit
Golden Bear, Amnesty International Film Prize & Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Berlin Film Festival 2016; Cinema Eye Honors Award, 2017
Co-presented by HIAS Italians in DC GW Documentary Center

“A Flickering Truth,” New Zealand
Thursday, August 10, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 13, 3:30 p.m.
Dir. Pietra Brettkelly
(93 min, New Zealand, 2015)
Dari with English subtitles
An extraordinary documentary that literally blows the dust off of 100 years of conflict, revealing cinematic gems of the Afghani film archives that were ravaged, burned and banned by Taliban interdiction. As brave archivists thread projectors with film from unmarked reels, the country’s rich history comes alive with images of former leaders, beloved actresses, and landmarks now gone. For a preview, visit
Best Documentary, Bergen International Film Festival; Documentary Award, The WIFTS Foundation International Visionary Award 2015

“I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced,” Yemen
Saturday, August 12, 3:45 p.m.
Sunday, August 13, 7:45 p.m.
Dir. Khadija Al-Salami
(99 min, Yemen, 2014)
Arabic with English subtitles
Amid strikingly beautiful and stark landscapes, this true story of underage marriage reflects the painful reality of Yemeni tribal culture and the vulnerability of girls. Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, Nojoom escapes her family and files for divorce in court. Wiser than her years, she has unshakeable resolve. For a preview, visit
Best Fiction Feature, Dubai International Film Festival 2014

“Tanna,” Australia
Saturday, August 12, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 13, 5:30 p.m.
Dirs. Martin Butler and Bentley Dean
(104 min, Australia, 2015)
Nauvhal with English subtitles
Venice Film Festival winner “Tanna” is the tale of young lovers caught between the traditions and taboos of their tribe and following the desires of their hearts. Co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler spent seven months with the Yakel people of the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, developing a collaborative script based on actual events. The results are sensuous, magical and unforgettable. For a preview, visit
Best Foreign Film, African American Film Critics Association 2016; Best Direction, Australian Directors Guild Award 2016; Special Jury Prize, London Film Festival 2015; Best Cinematography & International Critics’ Week Award, Venice Film Festival 2015
Co-presented by Embassy of Australia

All films will be screened at the Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts, Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC, located at 1529 Sixteenth St. NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are $13.50 per film, and can be purchased online at

Passes are non-transferable.  All pass-holders are guaranteed a seat if they select their films at least five days in advance of the event. Otherwise, access will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis (space permitting).

Image: Still from “A Flickering Truth;” photo courtesy of Edlavitch DCJCC

American Indian Pow-Wow
Saturday, July 22, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
See American Indian dancers, singers, artists and more. You can purchase American Indian food, jewelry and crafts and see the Parade of Nations at noon. This festival continues Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Rd. West Friendship, MD
Cost: $10 for adults; $7 for children


"The King
and I"

Sunday, July 23, 1:30 p.m.
The King of Siam brings British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens to his kingdom to teach his many wives and children in the mid-19th century. This Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is about their unconventional and tempestuous relationship. Performances continue through August 20.
Location: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Information: (202) 467-4600;
Cost: $49-$159

Loudoun County Fair
Friday, July 28, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
This county fair runs through Sunday and offers tons of fun for the entire family. You'll find livestock shows, rodeo bull riding, a carnival, horseback demon-strations, live music, magic acts and more.
Location: Loudoun County Fairground, 17558 Dry Mill Rd. Leesburg, VA
Information: (703) 777-3835;
Cost: $12 for adults; $5 for kids (ages 6-12)

NOVA-Con, Northern VA's 3-Day Comic Convention
Saturday, July 29, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Fans of movies, television, comic books, cosplay, gaming and more can enjoy three days of fun. Highlights include gaming and cosplay competitions, celebrity pop-culture guests like Kelly Hu, John Wesley Shipp, Shannon Purser, Jason Metcalf and others, as well as local vendor showcases.
Location: Ritz Carlton, 1700 Tysons Blvd. McLean, VA
Information: (703) 960-1970;
Cost: $25-$75  

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions for The Beltway Beat, please contact Vanessa Mallory Kotz at If you would like your own Newsletter, please e-mail or visit
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