New York City Landlord-Tenant judge Lucy Billings will review Aaron Beall’s business plan for keeping Todo Con Nada’s 167 Ludlow St. theatre space open. Billings will review Beall’s two-year plan at 9:30 AM Mon., Nov, 13 in Manhattan.
“The judge will look at our plan for continuation at Ludlow,” Beall told Playbill On-Line. “I’ve put together a package of how we’re going to do it.” Beall has put together his business plan based on expertise learned at a media management program at Audrey Cohen College.
“There’s a budget and outline for the theatre at that location with a whole proposal to keep Nada open and solvent for next the next two years,” Beall said.
In the effort to give the struggling theatre measurable stability, Beall said his plan involves paying back rent, recapitalizing the theatre to provide a financial cushion, a budget plan for the theatre and other essential steps toward restructuring.
“If the judge finds our plan compelling enough,” Beall said, “we are hoping for another court date. By then we would like to raise the money to close the gap and be able to put our plan in place.” As reported yesterday, Todo Con Nada faces eviction by the marshall at its Ludlow Street theatre for unpaid rent. The theatre company has been fundraising aggressively in an attempt to raise more than $20,000 in back rent and utility charges. Some of the money has been raised, but the future of the theatre company is in question.
As reported earlier, the Off-Off-Broadway Todo Con Nada has touched the careers and two thousand performers and theatre companies over the past 12 years. The theatre that launched a thousand shows, raised $2,000 at its Oct. 16 benefit staging of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." Added to $14,000 collected by Nada founder Aaron Beall, that put the beleaguered theatre within realistic fundraising range of the more than $20,000 in back rent needed to prevent the closure of the Ludlow Street space.
Several Downtown artists have received their start at the low-ceiling basement storefront that is Nada's headquarters. The Target Margin Theatre, which has since become the darling of foundations and The New York Times, had its first defining success at Nada with Titus Andronicus, as did the avant garde Elevator Repair Service, now a staple at P.S. 122. Brian Park's plays Vomit and Roses and Wolverine Dream (later joined under the title Americana Absurdum), which recently took home a prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, debuted on Ludlow. Nada was also home to some of the young efforts by verse playwright Kirk Wood Bromley and playwright screenwriter Todd Alcott ("Antz," "One Neck"). Obie-winning actor James Urbaniak often performed there, as did performance artists Deb Margolin and John Leguizamo and Drama Dept. director Randall Curtis Rand.
Beall and a few colleagues began the theatre company that would become Nada in the mid-1980s, with Beall eventually taking over as leader and renaming the troupe Nada, and then Todo con Nada. Beall's operation was primarily a presenting house, with performers and companies filling the space while Nada claimed the lion's share of the box office. This arrangement was useful to struggling artists, since fledgling groups often could not afford to rent a theatre on their own (although complaints surfaced in recent years that the artists were not receiving their share of the intake).
Beall put Nada on the map in 1995 with a three-month Hamlet festival, featuring Shakespeare's play and other Hamlet-themed attractions. The next season saw an ambitious, and ultimately financially unsuccessful, Faust festival. Since then, Beall has always thought in big terms, conceiving a new festival every few months. Over the years, the fluctuating Nada empire of theatres has included the Piano Store, the House of Candles Theatre, both on the Lower East Side; Nada 45 on W. 45 Street; and Nada Show World on Eighth Avenue in Clinton. Rent and fire law troubles have plagued Beall for years.
Along with John Clancy of The Present Company and Jonathan Harris, Beall co-founded the New York International Fringe Festival. However, during 1998, the second year of the fest, Clancy and Beall had an acrimonious falling out over financial and legal matters. The following year—in what many viewed as an act of naked aggression but which Beall said was simply an effort to keep afloat—Nada began the Pure Pop Festival, a multi show event which ran at the same time, and in the same neighborhood, as the Fringe.
For information call Todo con Nada at (212) 586-7829.
-- By Murdoch McBride
and Robert Simonson