Judge John Ramsey Johnson declined to dismiss the dispute between the Shakespeare Theatre Company and its Lansburgh building landlords Friday in D.C. Superior Court.
The 2012 Tony Award-winning theater is contesting a proposed rent increase — and potential eviction from its longtime home — from $70,000 to $480,000 annually, a rate hike that Johnson suggested was “not gentle.”
Friday’s proceeding was often acrimonious, with each side ascribing nefarious motives to the other. The STC’s lawyers wondered aloud whether Lansburgh Theatre Inc. — the nonprofit “supporting” organization that the STC says isn’t very supportive anymore — is now trying to commercialize the theater space.
Lawyers for the LTI and for Graham Gund, the designer-developer and owner of the Lansburgh, claimed that the STC is using income from the Lansburgh to support the theater’s operations in its larger venue two blocks away, Sidney Harman Hall. They also charge the Shakespeare troupe with being unwilling to undertake millions of dollars worth of needed repairs, a nuanced issue that, like everything else, was contested Friday.