Saturday, May 30, 2009

Theatre 80 to remain a theater: "We intend to keep the East Village a vibrant arts community"

Good news. Lorcan Otway, whose parents built and operated Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place, left a comment on my post from Thursday. (He also sent the letter to my fellow bloggers who commented on the post.) The news Thursday: The Pearl Theatre Company, which has had a residency at Theatre 80 the past 15 years, is relocating to Midtown for its 2009-2010 season. In a statement, the Pearl's Artistic Director Shepard Sobel said, in part: "While we are disappointed the East Village is losing a theatrical venue to commercial enterprise..."

Which left us wondering what might replace the Pearl as a tenant. Naturally, we assumed the worst. Fear not, though. Here's Lorcan:

Thank you for the kind comments, from past audience members and a former tenant. We dearly loved all the tenants who rented from us, including the Pearl. 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.

For some reason, at the time that I did the post Thursday, I didn't make the connection that Lorcan is the son of Howard and Florence Otway. Many of you likely know Lorcan or have at least seen him taking photos in Tompkins Square Park and elsewhere. The Villager profiled Lorcan last August.

I also had the chance to see his work last August in the exhibit "East Village Commons: A Loving Portrayal of a Neighborhood." Here is some of Lorcan's work via Flickr.

Theatre 80 sign via Warsze on Flickr.


Bowery Boogie said...

good news, indeed.

Melanie said...

I am glad for the update and good news!!Without the arts--there is nothing.

Susie said...

My dad told me this was a pub in the 50s and, supposedly, it's where my parents met. He took me there to see old musicals when I was a kid and I love this old theater. I'm so happy to see it will remain a theater.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

What fantastic news during such bleak times.

Media glut said...

Very good to hear.
These responsible owners deserve out support. If only there were more landlords who cared about our hood.