The Playgoer: Downtown Perry St Theatre closes

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Downtown Perry St Theatre closes

Yet another factor in the ill health of a viable Off Broadway is the shrinking availability of good performance spaces. One of the older holdouts downtown, the Perry Street looks like it will be demolished after the current owners have had to give it up.

The Perry is one of those lovely little exposed-brick theatres (like Minetta Lane) in those side streets of the village that evoke those early days of OB in the 50s, and even hark back to earlier in the century to the Provincetown (still standing) and the "little theatre" movement.

In more recent history the Perry served as the temporary home for New York Theatre Workshop. Currently playing: The JAP Chronicles. Somehow the economics of these prime spaces have not lent themselves recently to the kind of interesting programming that might keep them running. With real estate now what it is downtown--especially on such "charming" little streets like Perry--a theatre is probably the very least profitable use of a building. So no wonder it's apparently going to be more apartments for the rich now.


Larissa said...

that is so depressing. does any theatre organization, like equity or some other such alliance, have a branch dedicated to fighting this sort of thing? at least for the purpose of making a lot of noise and stink about it, even if it ultimately wouldn't hold up against the capitalist pig-dogs?

PeonInChief said...

The interesting point about loft development is that it is almost all tax code driven. We could easily limit the number of rich folk housing simply by making second, third and fourth homes very expensive. (And there are good public policy reasons to do this: people taking up space they only use a month out of the year encourages sprawl, uglying up the landscape and doing all sorts of ecological damage; the price pressure decreases affordability for the poorest 80%; tax subsidies for rich folk consumption are just inappropriate) Instead we subsidize second homes through the tax code (through the mortgage interest deduction) and allow people to live in their primary home for two years, sell it, take the capital gains exemption, move to the second home, live there for two years, take another capital gains exemption, and so on. This isn't the free market at work; it's the tax system.

For the very rich, it wouldn't matter. But making multiple houses more expensive would limit purchases by the merely affluent.