Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seeking a stage: THEATREdART and Star Bar

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM

As you may by now know, or perhaps have already seen, A Clockwork Orange is playing this month at the Underground's Subterranean Nightclub.  

THEATREdART is behind the production, directed by artistic member Michael Lee, and starring Christian O'Shaughnessy, Dylan Mosley, Ashley Crockett and many more local talents. 

Lee, in the show's program, is quoted as saying this about the staging:
It is a strange future, though not too hard to imagine, a confluence of Cold War powers, youth culture uninhibited, an all-consuming state and an apathetic populace... I want to stray from Kubrick's iconography and re-contextualize this story for a post-cyberpunk,
post-Grand Theft Auto, post-9/11 world.
And though we are post-many-things, the strange future that actually is a little tough to imagine for both THEATREdART and fellow community theater company, Star Bar, is the one in which both are comfortably re-housed inside of their own performance space(s) somewhere in the downtown corridor. 

As detailed in part in a press release send out in mid-February, both companies were forced to move out of their prior space at 128 N. Nevada Ave. 

THEATREdART artistic director Brian Mann thanked Vintage Realities, the building's manager, for providing "a fantastic space at an affordable price" since April, 2011, enabling the company to put on 15 productions at that location. 

Star Bar's artistic director of the last five years, Alysabeth Clements Mosley, also thanked the company for being "advocates for the arts," having hosted several Star Bar performances at the spot, as Star Bar was technically renting space from THEATREdART to share the space. 

Both directors acknowledge noise complaints from neighboring businesses and Mann says he tried to address them to the best of the companies' abilities, but a longterm solution "would have required major renovations" that were simply untenable. 

Kathleen Venezia, vice president of Vintage Companies, confirms that the ongoing noise problem, which included late-night gatherings, indeed was the motivating factor to ask the companies to move out; presently there is no other renter for the space. 
click to enlarge Screen_shot_2014-03-12_at_2.41.27_PM.png

"We're family owned," she says. "We believe in theater downtown — they had a rent break. But it wasn't worth upsetting the market-paying tenants. We're sad to see them go, but we were having more and more complaints." 

So, graciousness and tough love aside, where does this friendly eviction leave the two groups?

"We're kinda homeless," says Mann, who with two weeks notice to scoot, ended up booking the Subterranean with the help of Unbrand's Crystal Carter. "We're exploring our options now," he adds, noting that the next two scheduled shows, Beat Generation and Crime and Punishment, may have to shift on the calendar a bit — the latter possibly into the next season. 

Mann says THEATREdART will likely move to fewer shows per season, though they surely "don't intend on going away," as they seek a new, permanent home. 

Star Bar is pretty much in the same situation, says Mosley, who has been on the Star Bar board for 20 years, having seen her first Star Bar show at age 5. 

"We're now dark until we know what we are going to do ... We've been through adversity before, we will again," she says, noting that "we're the oldest community theatre in the Springs," dating back to a 1972 Shakespeare in the Park performance at Acacia Park downtown. 

"It's really important for us to stay downtown," she says. "We've always been a downtown company.That's our home ... any downtown worth itself has a theater district ... we know of a lot of empty storefronts, we hope someone is interested in taking a write-off or something. If it is sitting fallow, why not be a hero for the arts?" 

Mosley notes a "deep love" for the City Auditorium, where Star Bar performed for many years, but again, noise concerns prove to be a conflict — in reverse this time — as weekend bookings inside the main auditorium tend to drown out the audio inside the adjacent Lon Chaney Theatre performance space, making it untenable as well. 

Both artistic directors suggest checking each company's website for updates as they hopefully find suitable digs and announce new performance dates. 

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