Don’t Despair! All the World’s a Stage.


Early this month, I had the wonderful experience of directing two original pieces with the Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theater Source.

This weekend, The Source sent an email to the participants letting us know that at the end of 2011, after 12 years, they will no longer have a home at 177 MacDougal. Another theater company has lost their home.

I felt an immediate sadness then anger. The sadness stemmed from knowing that I won’t be able to visit and work in the theater space. I cut my teeth in spaces in the Village. I spent a big part of my life there. As a teenager, I hung out there even though I was forbidden to do so. I went to college and got my first real job right on Broadway and Waverly. So I have a true kinship with the area. When I was asked to be a part of the Estrogenius Festival next year, I thought to myself, I am back home.

The anger came from an immediate flashback of the spaces that I have worked in that are no longer in existence. For example, the other area of the city in which I did many a show was at a building on 46th and 8th Avenue, where McHale’s Pub once resided. In that building were four theater spaces that were really cool and off the beaten path. That building was torn down and an expensive high rise built in its place. Ugh. Another favorite spot of mine was the home of the 29th Street Repetory Company. The space is gone. I don’t even know or care to know at the moment what is there. As a producer, location is a huge part of selecting a space. The 29th Street Repertory Company was in a great location near all public transportation. (Thankfully, David Mogentale continues to rent his other loft spaces as Altered Stages I and II).

After ten minutes of living in Crazytown, the noise in my head got quiet. I realized that it is the people that make the experience not the actual space. The space enhances our experience. And that’s when I realized that I have to accept that time is changing and it’s really expensive to rent in NYC. My hometown is expensive and areas of the city that were artist enclaves are slowly disappearing. As a result, we as artists have two choices. Stop creating and become a cog OR continue to express our art but do it in a possibly unconventional space or manner. It’s officially time to think outside the box.

My company, Black Henna, and many other theater troupes perform in many types of places such as lofts, black boxes, cafes, bars and parks. We choose the spots in which to produce as it fits the piece. I remember thinking early in my career that all shows have to be in a space with a two week run. Don’t ask where that arbitrary number came from but it’s possible it had to do with budget. Then we did Much Ado About Nothing in the parks and it was the most freeing theater.  And so began my thinking about how I was going to produce my three pieces next year (MTS is no longer an option).

For sure, we will be doing Twelfth Night in the parks. As for the other two, the answer will present itself. The limitations are endless and the ideas boundless.

And that’s how we continue to perform on the ever evolving stage.


Save the Date for my Round Robin: Saturday, January 14th, 2012. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, click here.

Love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Despair! All the World’s a Stage.

  1. Thank for letting me know about the typeface. I am still acclimating to WordPress. I added the widget instead.

    Ahhh, the memories of that building.

  2. Never mind, I see it, but I had to scroll up and notice what’s written in very tiny typeface. That’s a little annoying, and easy to miss.

  3. I was familiar with the landlord for the 46th St. spaces. A little old man who owned the Edison hotel, the Edison theater, and I think every non-professional theater building on those two blocks and God knows what else. Little man with barley a voice, but if you owed him money and you didn’t pay right away, well, he didn’t live to a ripe old age by letting debts slide. I got the idea that having little theater groups renting his spaces that didn’t/couldn’t pay rent consistently was far from the biggest mistake in his life, but a mistake nevertheless. Those spaces were kicked out by early 2005 I believe, and knowing that man a bit, if he had his way, he would’ve had them out by early 2000.

    And I looked throughout this article, and nope, not one bit of info about See How They Run, contrary to the email. But hey, not my show . . . 🙂 . . . .

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