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Broadway Bound

Episode 6


"So whadaya think?"

What was it?

"A bodega. It's been empty for about five years now."

How big?

"Fourteen feet wide by 32 feet deep. It's a 10 foot ceiling."

It's an excellent location for an off Broadway theatre. But it's too small.

"Hold on. This is gonna be the lobby. I'm thinking, from front to back, eight feet for an air lock, 10 feet along this wall for the box office, followed by a 14 foot bar for concessions."

So where would you put the stage?

"Let me turn on the lights. I figure I've replaced about 200 light bulbs in here this weekend. See where I've busted the hole through the plasterboard in the rear wall?"

Through there?

"Yup. Follow me. Careful about those nails."

Oh my . . . I don't believe it!

"Awesome, huh?"

Again, what was it?

"Around the turn of the century it was a lodge assembly hall. It was used as a speakeasy during prohibition and a dance hall during the 40's. It's been empty since then."

It's enormous! What are the measurements?

"There's a 30 foot free-span between the columns down the center of the room. You've got 8 feet between the columns and the outside walls on each side. The open center space is 92 feet long and 22 feet tall."

Amazing. You definitely have space for a theatre here.

"It gets better. There's a 6 foot basement. We need to take up this old wood floor anyway, so we can get a great rake down to the basement floor. Perfect sight lines."

You've obviously given it some thought.

"I'm thinking we can get 350 to 400 seats if we have a balcony."


"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I read that book. . . ."

Will It Make A Theatre?

"That's the one. I realized this is what I really want to do."

Open and manage a theatre?


There's a lot more to it than you think.

"Hold on. This is where I'm the expert."

How so?

"My family's been in construction for generations. I grew up on building sites. I'm a structural engineer."

I wondered what you did for a living.

"I only got the degree to please my parents. I haven't worked at it since college. It never interested me until now. Now, this is what I want to do."

Where are you going to get the backing?

"Money isn't the problem."

I don't think you quite grasp what it's going to take to. . . .

"My family owns this building."


"My grandmother's having the lease drawn up right now. My parents are ready to back the renovation with whatever it takes. They figure it's as close as I'm ever gonna get to the family business."

You have generous parents.

"They wouldn't have made the offer if they didn't think it would be commercially viable. They're not doing me any great favors."

You seem to have the bases covered. What do you need from me?

"What kind of theatre should it be? Proscenium? End Stage? Thrust? In the round?"

Isn't that more a result of the available space?

"Yeah, but we can do anything in here. Which is the best?"

There is no best. Each is suited for different types of. . . .

"I know all that. I read the book. But, what do you want? This is going to be your theatre as much as it is mine."

I don't understand.

"We're partners, aren't we?"

Only for the very limited purpose of producing Neverland.

"Don't you want your own theatre? We could rent it out when we're not using it."

You're offering me a partnership in this theatre?

"What do you think I've been saying?"

I can't afford it.

"I don't want your money. I can build it and run it. I need you to give it a direction."

You're insane.

"Probably. My family thinks so."

You want me to act as some sort of artistic director?

"If that's what you call it, yes. What do you say?"

I think we would both be getting in way over our heads.

"That ever stop you before?"

Well, no.


What's the arrangement? Exactly how would this whole thing be set up and run?

"You tell me."

We need to talk to the lawyers.

"So the answer is yes?"

Maybe. Let's see what we can put together. I still think you're crazy.

"Let's finish the tour. The restrooms are at this end of the room. All the fixtures need to be replaced, but the plumbing dates from the 40's and may be good enough to use as is."

What's the capacity?

"The Lady's has 16 stalls and the Men's has 10 stalls and eight urinals."

That's better than most small Broadway houses.

"And if we break through that wall on the other side of the room, we gain access to another empty store that opens on the next street over. This is all thick masonry construction. There shouldn't be any problems meeting all the building and fire codes."


"It's already Group 8, we're all set."

What about support space?

"Three empty floors upstairs. Say one floor for dressing rooms and shops, a floor for offices, and a floor for rehearsal space."

You have rehearsal space? Real rehearsal space?

"If we put it on the top floor, there's room for two rehearsal rooms the size of the stage and a couple of smaller ones."

It seems feasible.

"So you're in?"

Don't rush me. I need to give this project a lot of thought. And so do you. I want to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

"This wouldn't be leading up to another book, would it?"

What gave it away?

"That look on your face."

You liked the last one. You'll like this one. It's called Places of Performance: The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture.


Do you really want to know?


A general philosophical theory of signs and symbols exploring their function within a given context. Places of Performance looks at how the design of theater buildings and their location within a city reflect society's attitudes and concerns.


And come into the office tomorrow. I'm going to teach you how to analyze plays.

Book Image


Places of Performance:
The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture

by Marvin A. Carlson

List: $17.95
Published by Cornell University Press
ISBN: 0801480949


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