Last month, I had the pleasure of being honored at Soho Rep.’s Spring Fête alongside two fellow artists who have taught me so much about the theater and our world: director Leah C. Gardiner and playwright Melissa James Gibson.
The night became even more exiting than I could have imagined when Soho Rep. announced that they have the opportunity to move back into their theater on Walker Street for the next five years with help from the City and critical support from you now.
As an audience member and as a scenic designer of nine Soho Rep. shows, I have often asked myself “What makes this space so endlessly inviting to artists to re-imagine and to audiences to re-visit?” Here are my answers:
Soho Rep.’s theater feels “off the map.” Just when you feel sure you must be lost on Walker Street, you stumble through a heavy speakeasy style doorway and enter into a hidden space. You feel you have crossed a bridge. Each show is a discovery of a new world inside.
The room itself is odd: deep and long with a strange balcony at the rear. In the last row of seats, the audience can touch the ceiling. In the first row, you share the floor with the actors. There is no denying we are all in the same room together, breathing the same air, noticing the same details.
There is history. You notice a conduit, a screw, or a cut floorboard. Little blemishes and residue of past productions remind us of the experiences we’ve had in the space before and imbue the theater with a palpable energy. Those subtle imprints are incorporated into the next design, and there is a thrill to see what is possible with each new production.
That unconventional space downtown is the very best place for Soho Rep. to keep transporting audiences out of their seats (or benches, or milk crates, or…) with ambitious, inventive, civic new work.
Getting back to Walker Street has been a true team effort so far led by Soho Rep’s board, the City and an incredible community. Now, Soho Rep. needs you to step forward as an individual and bring them back home.
Hurry! Make your gift on the double! When you give a gift today, The Tow Foundation will double your donation. Soho Rep. needs to raise a final $100,000 to complete renovations over the summer and return home next season. When you step forward to make a gift by June 30th, you’ll also unlock an equal donation from The Tow Foundation who has pledged to match your generosity—dollar for dollar—up to $50,000.
Thank you to every friend who has already answered the call.