About Us

We are passionate about our obligation to preserve theater by recording it.

WAPAVA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, incorporated in Washington, DC, and is one of only three major continuous Actors’ Equity-approved video performance archives in America. WAPAVA is a resource for theater professionals and scholars; students and educational programs; specialized researchers in local/national theater history; and the public.

James Taylor founded WAPAVA in 1993 to preserve live theater performances, and he secured permission from the Actors’ Equity Association to tape professional stage performances in Washington, DC. In 2004, WAPAVA entered into an agreement with the Washington, DC Public Library (DCPL) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) at the University of Maryland to donate, assign, and transfer permanently the archive to MSPAL and to maintain a duplicate copy of the archive at DCPL. Prior to Taylor’s death in 2005, the archive was renamed the James J. Taylor Collection in his honor.

Since 1993, WAPAVA has produced 850 professional video recordings, representing a cross-section of DC-area theaters, from large and established to small and emerging. Productions are chosen for their historical/educational value.

Our Videos
We produce single camera, one-take digital videotape recordings, which are burned to archival-quality DVD disks in the post-production process. Each of our videographers has at least ten years’ experience shooting live theater.

WAPAVA videographers visit a show three times, first simply to watch it, next to make a practice recording and, finally, to make the archival video. During post-production, sound and video levels are checked, and production credits are added before the DVD is burned.

The Selection Process
The WAPAVA Advisory Board is a group of Theater professionals, critics, academics, and theater lovers, which identifies productions for the Executive Committee to consider. Productions are chosen for their historical and educational value  considering the archive’s mission as a resource for theater professionals and scholars; students and educational programs; specialized researchers in local and national theater history; and the general public. Special consideration is given to premieres, unique events, community interest, and unique contributions by performers, directors, and designers. WAPAVA’s Board decides what to record, considering suggestions from its Advisory Committee, reviews, and available funds.

Who we are
Executive Director: Carole Bernard
Administrative Assistant: Amy Benson

Board of Directors
Jackson R. Bryer, President
Irene Wagner, Treasurer
John Doolittle, Secretary
William Largess,  Dell Pendergrast, Karen Shod, Christopher Youstra
Ex Officio: Vincent J. Novara, Kerrie Cotten Williams, Derek Gray

Honorary Board of Directors
John Palmer Claridge, Colleen Fay, Stephen Jarrett, Daniel MacLean Wagner, Bernard Welt

WAPAVA PO Box 6228, Washington, DC 20015

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