42nd Street Off-Broadway Complex Chashama to Move as Block Is Torn Down

News   42nd Street Off-Broadway Complex Chashama to Move as Block Is Torn Down
The warren of theatre spaces on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues known as Chashama will cease operations during the first week of March in preparation for the imminent demolition of the block.

The Durst Organization is planning to erect an office town on the site where five Chashama theatres—as well as a host of small, and somewhat seedy, businesses—sit. (The same construction project forced Urinetown to cut short its run at 43rd Street's Henry Miller Theatre.) Chashama will not be homeless, only more space poor. The organization plans to move further east to 201 E. 42nd Street. It will operate a performance space at 217 on the same block. Chashama was always fated to live a shortish Time Square existence. The company was co-founded by Anita Durst, the iconoclastic daughter of developer Douglas Durst, and a veteran of late Los Angeles theatre auteur Reza Abdoh's Dar A Luz company. Father Durst allowed Anita to use the storefronts at 111, 113, 121, 125 and 135 E. 42nd Street as a performing and visual arts laboratory while a plan to develop the block commercially was pieced together.

During the last two years, Chashama has come into its own as a unique midtown oasis for the kind of experimental theatre work usually found in Manhattan below 14th Street. One of its most mainstream offerings, Adam Rapp's Stone Cold Dead Serious became a critical hit in early 2003. The first of a planned annual Urban Theatre Arts Festival played there July 17-Aug. 17, 2003, offering a variety of hip-hop, spoken word and poetry driven performances. And two recent Anne Washburn plays, Apparition and The Ladies, have attracted extensive press attention.

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