Off Off-Broadway's The Flea Will Build Three-Theatre Performing Arts Complex in Lower Manhattan

By Michael Gioia
November 26, 2013

The Flea Theater artistic director Jim Simpson and producing director Carol Ostrow announced that the Off Off-Broadway company will build a three-theatre performing arts complex that will serve as the organization's new home in TriBeCa. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project will take place Dec. 5 with city officials, Flea artists, supporters and invited friends.



Simpson and Ostrow said in a statement that the reason for the new building is "because we've outgrown our old one. With 16 shows a year our dressing rooms are cramped, storage is non-existent and we turn projects away due to scheduling constraints. The new Flea will give three beautiful, unique and intimate spaces to the off-off-Broadway community and let us do more of what we do best: help emerging artists practice their craft, established artists try new things and mid-career artists establish their identity. We want to encourage other talented young companies to take a chance, think big and produce work in our space. We want audiences to feel energized when they [walk] through the door. We want to be our own landlord, we want to beautify Lower Manhattan and we want to be around for a very long time."

The Flea previously purchased a building at 20 Thomas Street, four blocks south of their current location, with seed money from their board of directors and state and city funding. Now, the company has raised 95 percent of the funds needed to build the performing arts complex.

"It's a dream come true for the Flea, for downtown, and for all of us who love theatre," said Sigourney Weaver, a founder of The Flea, in a statement.

In 1995 Weaver, along with her husband Simpson, designer Kyle Chepulis and playwright Mac Wellman, opened the doors of The Flea. The current space features two theatres, a 74-seat upstairs flexible space and a downstairs 40-seat playhouse.

The new building is designed by the award-winning firm ARO (Architecture Research Office), the New York City firm led by Stephen Cassell, Adam Yarinsky and Kim Yao.

The new Flea will feature two lobbies, a central ticket office, a lobby bar, accompanying technical as well as administrative offices for Flea staff and three performance spaces. The largest space will be called The Sam, a 99-seat flexible theatre named for agent Sam Cohn. The entry level will feature the second Flea performance space, an indoor/outdoor theatre that seats 72, named for frequent Flea collaborator A.R. (Pete) Gurney. In the lower level, The Flea will house its smallest theatre, a playhouse that seats 46.

For more information, visit TheFlea.org.