We're Finally On Our Own: The End of the Ohio 

Isaac Byrne 
3/15/2010 


Next September The Ohio will no longer be a theater. You can read about it here. It could rain all day everyday for a year and I couldn't feel any worse. To say that the Ohio is an irreplaceable home for NYC theatre artists would be an understatement. To say that the Ohio is one of the few places left in NYC where theatre artists who took big, grand scale risks were encouraged, nourished, and rewarded by both the space itself and by the good people of Soho Think Tank would be an understatement. To say that the Ohio is my favorite theatre (or maybe even just my favorite place) in NY would be an understatement. To say that I was always both giddy and inspired when I got the chance to work there would be yet another understatement. I'd say that this September, NYC is going lose another big piece of what makes this city special. But that would be just another understatement in a long list.

Well, NYC let's just keep this going. We let the Provincetown Playhouse (the birthplace of all of Eugene O'Neill's plays) get dwarfed by NYU's endless construction, we're going to let the Ohio become god only knows what (a Banana Republic? Condos?), and we've let theaters and other homes for artists close down by the dozen in the last decade. You know, I can't help but wonder when I read about soulless moneysuits that ruin people's lives, the welfare of entire nations, the physical health of entire communities, and the livelihoods of their own countrymen all for the sake of making more money...if maybe it's because we're creating these people. When we deaden the soul of our city, our community, our home--how are we not deadening our own souls? A dead city of chain restaurants, condos, corporations, and banks. Dead cities breed dead people.

Two good things to come out of this. The movement to get the tax credit for landlords that rent to non-profits is an important one. As disheartening as loosing the Ohio, we must strengthen our resolve and not lose the new found power we've created in working together. The unity and dedication that is taking hold in the Indie/Off-Off community is a good, good thing. A lot of people are a part of that, but I have to to give a big, big shout out to the NY Innovative Theatre foundation. I feel like they're really doing so much to help the community--Keep it up guys. United we will grow; divided we will wither and die. The other positive is that theatre is going to have to evolve and adapt to new spaces and venues. It's going to have to become "immersive" or as I've started calling it "3-D". It's time to call a spade a spade. Without a proper diagnosis, we can't fix this. And fix it we must, because we're fighting for our lives now.

Two quotes for today to remind us why the work we do is so important. 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. " (Maya Angelou, Professor of English Literature Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC).

The other because it's time to call it like it is. "New York is Dead" (_________)

To address this issue, a town hall-style meeting: a sort of brainstorming session with the community will be held on April 26, 2010 at the Ohio Theatre.

 

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