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New Arts Venue Planned in Living Theatre Space

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As we reported earlier in the month, the legendary Living Theatre is in the middle of its last production at 21 Clinton Street, the company’s home for the past six years.  What will happen to the space after the show closes in February?  There were some clues last week when Community Board 3’s liquor license agenda came out, and now a few more details have surfaced.

According to documents posted online, Stephen Michael Rondel and Tyler Maganzini are hoping to open a new performance venue in this location named the “C.O.W. Theatre.”  There will be improv performances, repertory theater, one man shows and children’s theater. The team is asking for a wine and beer license for the concession area in the basement.  Rondel is the founder and executive director of the New Acting Company, which offers classes to both kids and adults and stages professional productions.  Maganzini runs the Black Mountain Winehouse and the Union Grounds bar, both in Brooklyn.  We’ll hear more about their plans Monday, Feb. 11 when CB3’s SLA Committee meets.

Meanwhile the Living Theatre hopes to stay in the neighborhood. We should have news about their future plans soon.  But the current production, “Here We Are,” is your last opportunity to see 86-year old Judith Malina’s groundbreaking theater company in action on Clinton Street.


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  1. I appreciate and empathize with how Judith feels. She is right to feel as she does– for many reasons.

    There is a new 27 story luxury hotel being built on the the broken down unfinished grave site, the former going to be a hotel site, between Houston and Stanton, Orchard to Ludlow. Another obvious reason why so many of the tenants on Ludlow street are being so quickly crushed under.

    Today there was a meeting about the problems of construction
    surrounding this new hotel in the next bar Hair of the Dog. The BID
    and CB3 only let a few people know of this meeting. There were no Hispanics. I found out by a telephone call. There was no organized clarion call to come and be heard.

    The meeting was basically orderly- soft spoken and, really, just another one of those meetings like so many before of: yes we love you all- yes you are all so important– yes we are here to preserve the place. And yes amongst the listeners half thought “oh this will be good for me.” 1/4
    thought I can deal with this and another 1/4 saw it as “oh shit.”

    The “oh Shit” people were right. To me the truth is look at Ludlow and take a hint. Look at the Living Theater. These new hotel “all for me”
    interopers were all uptown 5th ave. types. No connection to what was here. Well groomed. Expensive well cut suits, even the casual stiffs wore was nothing off the rack. More than 1/2 of them spoke with a distinctly non-American accent.

    I cannot go into how many times I have witnesses this kind
    of takeover. I started documenting this massive change in 1988. And
    no it is not just another change this change is totally different than any of the other historic changes. This gentrification has been attempted many times- but something always stopped it: The Slocum- Wars- Stock Market crashes- the Depression- new immigrant population explosion- redlining- bad economies- drugs- fires- and so on.

    This is different. This is the end game. What was before will never be again.

    The people at the meeting who have an art event scheme think they are safe– sure- go to early Chelsea and see what happened to the first galleries that opened up over there. The hip clothing shop saw themselves as fitting in- this hotel plowed under Alife- and many other
    such places. Then remember Amy Downs Hats- The Pink Pony- Earth Matters– and on and on and on. No! I will be surprised if any of them
    survive. After all what makes them so different than those who came before them? And if they are so cool what are they doing here?

    Take a look at who has left. aNYthing wasn’t cool enough? Or Second Ave Deli? In fact I do not see the man who runs the BID making the end cut. His look is too cheap. Too old school Orchard. Too off the rack. Too much like an old school suit salesman Soon they will need a
    person who looks like them, speaks like them, dresses like them, and he does not.

    Yes Judith you cry for all of us. Judith may only good things come your way. When your door closed it was a quite shut- too little nosie- too few tears- not enough goodbyes- and it marks the the end of a very long run. I will love you as long as I can love– love and respect- clayton patterson.

  2. Word is the Living Theatre lease payments were in arrears and the end was inevitable. How great that a new generation of artists have stepped up and will continue to utilize the space for theatre and other artistic ventures. Break a leg Stephen Michael Rondel and Tyler Maganzini – you’ve got a tough act to follow.

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