What is Hexagon?
Hexagon is a nonprofit organization composed of people whose purpose is to create and stage an original, political, satirical, musical comedy revue each year, both to have fun entertaining and to raise money for local charities. While there are several (even numerous) groups that purport to present political satire, Hexagon is unique in several respects:
- Hexagon is all original. Each year every song and skit is completely new. At Hexagon, you won’t hear hackneyed tunes recycled with new words.
- Hexagon is non profit. We donate to charity, not to our own wallets.
- Hexagon is all volunteer. There are no salary expenses to diminish the proceeds we can donate to charity.
- Hexagon is membership. Hexagon is not a “one-man show.” Members make up the cast, crew orchestra, front of house, writers, and production team for each and every show.
Hexagon is a social group, too. There are numerous parties and get-togethers through out the year where members meet with old friends and make new ones.
How Did Hexagon Get Started?
In November 1955, a group of young Washingtonians and a former member of the famed all-male Princeton Triangle Club decided to put on a show devoted to “pure fun and nonsense.” They called the new group Hexagon—double the Triangle symbol—to represent the inclusion of women.
Led by Charles Ilsley, the group—including iconic satirist Tom Lehrer—wrote songs and parodies for the show, “Meet the Beep.” Its format was based on the popular NBC Sunday night radio show at the time, Monitor. The show ran for five performances at the Holton-Arms School in the spring of 1956.
After the show, the organizers found themselves with $3,500 in profits, which they donated to the American Cancer Society. Ilsley wrote, “It may surprise you to know that I DEFINITELY did not start Hexagon for charitable purposes. The basic reason was for FUN and for an outlet for creativity—which is most FUN—and for the kind of camaraderie which I discovered in Triangle…a charity contribution was something of an afterthought—worthy as it may be.” That afterthought lives on. Since 1956, Hexagon has raised more than $3.5 million donated to 40-plus organizations.
Who Joins Hexagon and Why?
Hexagon members are students, teachers, construction workers, medical professionals, plumbers, lawyers, congressional aides, entrepreneurs, engineers, journalists…people of all collar colors and political persuasions…you get the picture. From age 18 to—well, let’s just say, older.
Our members join for many different reasons. There are consummate performers who cannot imagine life away from the stage, writers who have a comedic flair and need an outlet, musicians who love playing in an orchestra, arrangers, set designers, set builders, box office gurus, ushers, backstage “techies,” costumers, make-up artisans, event planners…some join just to applaud. You name it, there’s a place for anyone who wants to play a part!
Who Supports Hexagon?
Throughout its long history, Hexagon has been broadly supported and recognized by the Washington, DC metropolitan community. Local businesses and organizations sponsor the show and provide in-kind donations of materials and services.
Members of the media make guest appearances as Newsbreak anchors. Area politicians and celebrities have graced the Hexagon stage, including former Attorney General Janet Reno, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former congresswoman Connie Morella, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ABC broadcaster Sam Donaldson, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Hexagon has received formal recognition for its contributions to the Washington community. Washingtonian magazine selected Hexagon as “Washingtonian of the Year” in 1993, the first time the publication honored an organization as the award’s recipient. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan presented Hexagon with the President’s Volunteer Action Award for service.