New Off-Broadway Venue Planned for Fort Greene

News   New Off-Broadway Venue Planned for Fort Greene
Brooklyn will get a new Off-Broadway venue: The Irondale Ensemble Project has announced the acquisition of a new home in Fort Greene.

Located within steps of BAM, the new Irondale Center will be housed within the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church's former Sunday school, which boasts a grand room spanning 5,400 square feet, and a 1,900 square-foot mezzanine and gallery. Renovation on the site, which includes original gothic-styled wall paintings and stained glass windows, began Feb. 27.

Capitalized at $2.5 million, the renovation will include a flexible 168-seat performance space (capable of a 199-seat expansion) as well as office space for Irondale Ensemble Project. Construction is targeted for completion in July with plans to officially open in the fall of 2008.

"In addition to being a home for the company's theatrical experiments and educational programs for students and community members, we are hoping to make this a destination point for American and International ensembles that are probably not on BAM's radar screen," explained Irondale executive director Terry Greiss in a statement. "Additionally, each company that comes in will have to have a community-oriented program as well as its Main Stage production."

Intended programming for Irondale's first primary residence includes after-school and weekend youth workshops, theatre classes for teens, advanced acting workshops for early-career artists, presentations from local universities and colleges, community-based theatre ensembles, professional development workshops for New York public school teachers, free student matinees of Irondale productions, and open workshops of resident productions.

Prior to its Irondale acquisition, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church's history included serving as a shelter for runaway slaves in the 1860's and the site of Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone call in Brooklyn. Frederick Douglass, Charles Dickens and PT Barnum all spoke at the church where the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was penned. Established in 1983 the Irondale Project's primary goal is to discover how theatre can be utilized as an important or central aspect of daily life. Irondale has approached this mission from two different angles, through an exploration of what types of theatre resonate most meaningfully with today's audiences, and through an application of theatrical techniques in non-theatre situations (prisons, schools, shelters, etc.). Irondale has produced 42 major Off-Broadway shows including the American premiere of Brecht's Conversations In Exile.

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