Best Deserved if Premature Tribute to an Esteemed Cultural Figure

The Michael Kahn Statue in Harman Hall
610 F St. NW, (202) 547-3230
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Michael Kahn was a pivotal early leader of D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, the man who shepherded it from its original home at the Folger Shakespeare Library to its Penn Quarter perch, the Lansburgh Theatre; the one who led its expansion into glassy, imposing Harman Hall on F Street NW; the guy who guided the troupe to a prestigious Tony Award for Regional Theatre; and the artistic director who, nearly 30 years into his tenure, remains one of D.C.’s foremost practitioners and thinkers in the dramatic arts. So no one could question Shakespeare Theatre Company board member Michael Klein’s 2012 gift to the troupe: a lifelike statue of Kahn, presiding magisterially yet benevolently over Harman Hall’s second-floor lobby and bar. But it is a little awkward, right? Say it’s opening night; the second act has just concluded, you’re sipping a themed cocktail with an eye toward the corner whence the servers carrying finger foods will emerge, and suddenly not one but two Michael Kahns are eyeing the contents of your plastic cup. One of them wants to know what you thought of the play; the other, smiling wryly, seems to already know. Looking at the second, mounted above the crowd of drink-sipping theatergoers, you probably will give a very kind answer to the first.