Present Company artistic director John Clancy and CHARAS Community Center organizer Susan Howard are pooling their resources and preparing five mini "venues" within the Lower East Side CHARAS building to stage Fringe Festival events when that program starts Aug. 12.
Howard spoke to Playbill On-Line from the Board of Education in Queens Plaza where she was researching the plumbing and electrical history of the CHARAS building in preparation for work.
CHARAS was the former New York Public School 64. A popular community center for more than 20 years, the center's management is battling its landlord, the City of New York, which sold the property to developer Gregg Singer at auction. CHARAS claims it has a right to buy the building and the group has demonstrated every time the new owner has shown the building.
Howard said she is meeting with her management on June 29 for approval of the use of CHARAS' original Bimbo Rivas Theatre, which is located in the facility's basement. The theatre's namesake, Bimbo Rivas, was a popular Lower East Side poet and playwright. The Latino Theatre Workshop was conducted in the Bimbo Rivas for several years, Howard said, before problems with the ventilation system forced it to close. Costs connected with curing the problems with plumbing, electrical and HVAC in the basement theatre are considered make or break issues with CHARAS management, which may not approve necessary repairs once they have determined the scope of work to be done.
In any case, Howard said, other spaces at CHARAS will be used to supply the Fringe Festival with the five venues it plans to use. "We still have one more switch to pull," Howard said, referring to her management meeting June 29 for the Bimbo Rivas. "I just hope everything comes together."
As reported earlier by Fringe festival organizer John Clancy, "the Theatorium will continue to be the anchor venue and central box office for the Fringe Festival."
New York City is the seventh major U.S. city to host a fringe festival. Gotham joined Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco as a fringe festival host city in 1997.
Ticket information on the Fringe Festival can be obtained by calling (212) 420-8888 or by visiting www.fringenyc.org.
-- By Murdoch McBride