28 May 2009

Theatre 80 St. Marks Loses Its Pearl

EV Grieve comes forward with the most saddening news of the day. The Pearl Theatre Company is decamping from its home in the East Village. This is not the terrible part of the news; the determined Pearl will soldier on as it always has, its next home being Stage II at City Center.

No, the upsetting part is that, for 15 years, Theatre 80 on St. Marks has been the Pearl's home. Now, the quaint former movie house is being turned over to...who knows what.

Founding Artistic Director Shepard Sobel said in a statement: "While we are disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise, we are thrilled to be moving to the theatre district to usher in this exciting new era of The Pearl in this vibrant new community."

What the heck is that? Commercial enterprise? A restaurant? (Likely.) A bar? (More likely.) A Pinkberry? And why do this now, with the Recession is full swing?

The place is still owned by Florence Otway, the widow of the guy who started the space as a theatre back in 1967. Someone should ask her what's up.


NYC taxi photo said...

The whole place is underground, it's gonna be a bar, but i dunno if the neighbors will accept it, don't they have to accept it?

I remember when seeing the wizard of Oz there in the early 80's, and can't even fathom it being a playhouse

Lorcan said...

Be assured that the Otway family still owns and runs Theater 80. My mother is well and sends her dearest regards to all.
When we came to Saint Marks Place in 1964, there was not a tree on the block. My father planted the first three trees on this now tree lined promenade. At the age of eleven, I dug out the auditorium with my father and helped pour the concrete. We are not going anywhere. We helped to build this neighborhood one business at a time, and it can be lost one building at a time. We have held out against times when those who are tearing down the neighborhood seem to be winning. But, like many others, we intend to keep the East Village a vibrant arts community.

I am at a loss to understand the quote from Shepard Sobel that he is “… disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise..." Theatre 80 has been the jewel of the off-broadway theaters since my father built it, and we opened in the mid 1960s.

Our theater saw the opening of "You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown", was the home of the Manhattan Festival Ballet, and was the first full time film revival house. For many years Noche Flamenca has performed to sold out audiences.

I have no idea the meaning or source of this information. As managing agent for the Otway family, owners of Theatre 80, I state categorically, we intend to remain a theater. We have turned down offers for other uses of this theater which would destroy the auditorium.

Please be assured that we welcome offers from theater companies to lease this theater. I can be reached by email at LorcanOtway@Gmail.com

Best regards
Lorcan Otway
Theatre 80