A decade ago, when Theatre for a New Audience artistic director Jeffrey Horowitz started planning a permanent home for his Theatre for a New Audience out in Brooklyn, he worried whether he'd be able to draw audiences and deep-pocketed donors over bridges or through the tunnel to the outer borough where he lives.
The delays that seemed so maddening in the intervening years — particularly when New York City officials twice changed the spot of the site for his theatre — now seem almost fortuitous.
"The timing does seem right," said Horowitz, whose theatre at 262 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, opens Nov. 2 with A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by longtime friend Julie Taymor.
These days Brooklyn is seen by many as the cooler borough, the new center of the universe, with Manhattanites trekking out regularly to the cultural district anchored by BAM and also home to the Mark Morris Dance Group, Irondale Ensemble Project and others, as well as to the area's restaurants and the Barclays Center.
"The borough has cachet and people now realize how many subway lines are five minutes from here," Horowitz said, adding that the growth of residential towers in the region also means TFANA will be less reliant on visitors from Manhattan. "The whole area is alive at night."
And the new home's name — Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center — which acknowledges the $10 million Brooklyn-born donor Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky, shows the powerful hold the borough still has on people who grew up there.
But Horowitz isn't counting on the neighborhood's hipness to make a name for his new home. Instead, he is confident that the home itself — and the shows produced inside — will become a draw unto itself. The theatre sits midway between BAM's Opera House (which also houses its movie theatres) and the Harvey, its other main stage. TFANA's new home, a green building designed by Hugh Hardy, is set back from the sidewalk with a public plaza and entrances that lead out each side, toward the two BAM buildings.
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