Theater for a New Audience builds its dream house (without renderings!)

The Brooklyn Paper
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A renowned — but itinerant — Shakespeare company will soon have a permanent home across the street from the Brooklyn Academy of Music where the poor players can strut and fret their hour upon the stage.

A towering swath of vines will be the most striking feature of the new home for The Theater for a New Audience, a company that specializes in plays by the Bard of Avon.

That “green curtain,” which could be as high as 57 feet, will abut the theater and loom over the new plaza at the entrance to the building, which will be on Ashland Place between Fulton and Lafayette streets.

Tall lightpoles — about the height of a flagpole — will also illuminate the plaza in a spotlight-like pattern, reinforcing the theatrical aesthetic.

“It will be like being in the theater, being in the spotlight, outside the theater,” said the architect of the plaza, Ken Smith.

The designs, revealed on Wednesday to Community Board 2, did not radically stray from the original Frank Gehry and Hugh Hardy design, which featured the starchitects’ familiar predilection for glass structures.

But the new design — by Hardy alone, now that Gehry has been axed —features some compelling new elements.

The entrance to the auditorium itself is inset below the second floor. Once inside, ticketholders will walk up a flight of stairs to the lobby, which will be on the second floor. From the lobby people will enjoy an expansive view of Fulton and Lafayette streets through a three-story glass façade.

Architect Geoff Lynch of H3 Architecture said that the three-tiered, 299-seat theater would give theatergoers a sense of being close to the stage, regardless of whether they are in the pit with the hoi polloi or in the balcony seats with aristocrats, just like in the glory days of the original Globe Theater.

The managing director of the Theater for a New Audience, Dorothy Ryan, said that she expected to break ground this year.

Community Board 2’s Public Safety Committee greeted the designs with enthusiasm — it was only last year that the project came back from the brink after a ballooning budget and Gehry’s withdrawal.

Yet the positive news was undermined by bureaucracy run amok. Though they presented the renderings to CB2, architects refused to make the renderings viewable by anyone who could not attend, or chose not to attend, the meeting — a blatant disregard for the public’s right to know.

Lynch even refused to give his card to a reporter and did not even offer the spelling of his name, directing all inquiries — spelling?! — to the Economic Development Corporation.

Lynch may be press-shy, but he’s obviously not so shy about revealing intimate details online, such as the fact that his “favorite spot” is “The Pantheon in Rome, when the choir is singing.”

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Reader Feedback

D. DelPurgatorio from Parkslope says:
This is journalism? You make me ashamed to live in Brooklyn.
May 27, 2010, 5:14 pm
punkyb from NJ says:
May 28, 2010, 8:53 am
armsakimbo from prospect heights says:
the general crappiness of the pictures is nothing compared to the genuine crappiness of the article.
May 29, 2010, 9:14 am
John from Fort Greene says:
What's wrong with the article? SOunds to me like the people involved in the project didn't have their act together.
May 29, 2010, 4:19 pm
Jake from Clinton Hill says:
I like the article.
June 1, 2010, 9:58 pm

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