Come spring 1997, the D.C. Area will get a new theatre complex -- one that will house foreign films, concerts, a cafe, an art gallery, a media room for radio and television broadcasts and, most importantly, a theatre.
Renovated by Ivan Arias, a long-time resident of Silver Spring, MD, the Flower Theatre stands just outside Washington D.C., near Oldtown. The theatre will celebrate cultural diversity through film, plays and music, with Hispanic, African-American, Asian and gender-related art to be a strong part of the cultural mix.
The Flower's cafe will have a small stage for play and poetry reading, as well as comedy, music and spoken word performances. The 500-seat, handicapped-accessible auditorium will be rented to theatre companies and touring musical stars.
After five decades as a movie theatre, the Flower Theatre closed its doors in Jan. 1996. Arias told Playbill On-Line, "No one else was interested in the space. They were going to gut it and turn it into a thrift store."
Arias expects donations to pay for the renovation, which will make the Flower Theatre the only complex of its kind in Maryland. His projected budget is $500,000. Arias explains, "Other art centers are budgeted at $18 million, there's one going up at $100 million. $500,000 is what we need for the infrastructure and basic equipment, because the structure is already there. We don't have to knock down walls at this point. But, for example, the media room. You can build a media room with $10 million worth of equipment, or you start small -- I know people who have recording studios in their basements -- and build from there as you can." As for the 500-seat theatre space, Arias not only expects Gala Hispanic Theatre and the Maryland Lyric Opera to perform there, but Linda Bartesh, Executive Director of Silver Spring Stage, will form the theatre's own company, The Flower Theatre Players.
Proceeds from a Jan. 12 concert by the Maryland Lyric Opera, titled "Music From The Movies," will go to benefit the Flower Theatre renovation project. Arias expects the physical labor to get underway in late January, with an opening projected "before May." For information, call (301) 608 1900 or check out their website at flowertheatre.com
--By David Lefkowitz