De La Guarda, a singular Argentinean performance piece, christens New York's new Daryl Roth Theatre June 16, after having begun previews June 11. (Dates were pushed up from a May 28 first preview and June 11 opening, reportedly due to delays shipping equipment from overseas.)
Roth announced her plans to convert the landmarked American Savings Bank at 20 Union Square East into a 499-seat Off-Broadway theatre in fall 1997. But the producer halted construction when she was approached by the producers of De La Guarda, who were searching for a space wherein the unique show could unfold. The empty, spacious bank seemed just right.
Roth said the theatre, as it now stands, is little more than a large, open area, measuring 50 by 100 feet, bordered by large windows, and with a marble floor underfoot. There are no fixed seats, but that's no problem. The audience for Guarda is required to stand while they watch the performers lower themselves down by rope and cable. Performances take place entirely in the air. There is music, but no words. Roth described the piece's nature as being along the lines of the Cirque du Soleil, Stomp, and Blue Man Group.
Up to 499 people can attend the show each night. Meanwhile, Roth will continue work on a second theatre within the space -- a 99-seat space to be called The Little Theatre. She said she expects it to be complete by July.
The Daryl Roth Theatre adds another stage to the Union Square area's growing Off-Broadway scene. Other theatres and companies within the vicinity include the Union Square Theatre, the Vineyard Theatre, Century Center and the Variety Arts Theatre. Roth most recently produced Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity at The American Place Theatre. Her other credits include How I Learned to Drive, Old Wicked Songs, and Three Tall Women. For information on De La Guarda, call (212) 947-8844.
-- By Robert Simonson