Undermain performed Greendale last year at the Ohio Theatre.
Deep Ellum’s Undermain Theatre is asking its patrons to help out a sister venue in New York, the Ohio Theatre, where Undermain has been putting on shows since 2000. The Ohio is asking for $1 from each contributor “as a symbolic gesture of your love.” It’s “not ‘how much did we get?’ but ‘how many have given?’ ” the theater says on its Web site. “One dollar is all it takes.”
The Ohio is a Soho institution since 1980 depended on by several small experimental companies and performing artists. It may lose its lease this summer and is raising money to stay or find a new performing space. “This is our first step in trying to quantify the expressions of loss, sympathy and support we’ve received in the last month from artists and audience members, as we try to secure a long term future.”
Last month, The New York Times put the Ohio’s situation in context:
“The loss is felt beyond New York City,” said Mark Russell, the producer of the Under the Radar festival, a showcase for contemporary theater. “This is where we develop our directing voices, our company voices, those things that the regular producing theaters may not see yet.”
News of the Ohio’s uncertain future comes as the city’s adventuresome performance spaces are beginning to seem like an endangered species. The spate of Broadway closings has garnered much attention. But some industry insiders argue that the more troubling indicator for New York theater lies in the struggles of spaces like the Ohio, which constitute the art form’s research and development department.
The Ohio hosts the Obie Award-winning Ice Factory Festival, where Undermain mounted Greendale last year and Coaticook in 2000. Undermain also performed Swedish Tales of Woe at the theater in 2000 and Glamour in 2002.
“Ohio Theatre has been an important player in Undermain’s history,” Undermain writes this week in an e-mail appeal to its patrons. “[It] is facing a threatening future.”
The fundraising campaign, called “Quantify Your Love,” ends Saturday with a Valentine’s Day Dance at the Ohio, 66 Wooster St. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door if you happen to be in New York this weekend.
Photo of Greendale by Brian Barnaud