Linda Levy, president and chief executive of TheatreWashington, addresses the crowd at the 2013 Helen Hayes Awards at Washington, D.C.'s Warner Theatre.
Linda Levy, president and chief executive of TheatreWashington, addresses the crowd at the 2013 Helen Hayes Awards at Washington, D.C.'s Warner Theatre.

The Helen Hayes Awards, one of the country's most prestigious events celebrating the work of professional theaters throughout the Washington metropolitan area, has announced a new venue for this year's celebration in anticipation of the extensive format changes that will take effect in 2015. The 2014 ceremony, scheduled for April 21, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Hayes Awards and will be held in the atrium of the National Building Museum, departing from its longtime home at the Warner Theatre.

"We're old enough to break some rules and try some new things," said Linda Levy, president and chief executive of TheatreWashington, the service organization that runs the annual awards ceremony. Though the new surroundings might imply a less formal event, the event's dress code will remain black-tie. Acceptance speeches, however, will be strictly limited to 30 seconds, shaved down from their historical three-minute average.

According to Levy, this year's ceremony will serve as a test run for next year, when a group of new categories will be added to the awards. TheatreWashington has announced a change in the traditional structure of the honors. Effective 2015, shows will be grouped into "Helen" or "Hayes" categories — the "Helens" encompassing largely Equity-cast shows.

The 2014 Helen Hayes Awards will be directed by Jeff Davis and Jerry Whiddon and scripted by Renee Calarco, all of whom are Hayes Award veterans. Nominations for this year's honors will be announced Monday, January 27, at the National Theatre.