Cricket's Notebook by Larry Stark - "A Letter of Support"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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Tuesday, 26 October, 1999: "A Letter of Support for
The Fan Pier Performing Arts & Film Center"

TO: Glen KnicKrehm,
Fan Pier Performance Arts & Film Center
FAX: 617-354-1788
email to: knickrehm@compuserve.com

Dear Mr. KnicKrehm:

Betsy Carpenter just alerted me about your plans to site a new arts facility on Parcel J at the Fan Pier in Boston. If what she says is correct your Fan Pier Performing Arts & Film Center would be a splendid addition to the cultural life of Boston and --- more important from my selfish point of view --- a Godsend to the homeless non-profit theater companies gasping for comfortable living and performing space in which to meet their eager audiences on a regular basis. So let me start by offering your project my heartfelt and enthusiastic support. Please call upon me and The Theater Mirror to do or say whatever it might take to convince City of Boston officials of the need for just such a project as yours.

As I understand it, your Performing Arts Center would create an entirely new venue providing TWO theater spaces (including one size and configuration which currently does not exist in Greater Boston) --- a 700 seat theatre which can be used without the balconies bringing the seating to an intimate 400 or less, plus a 150-200 seat black box theater --- as well as gallery space for the visual arts. If rentals on such spaces can be held to an affordable minimum, this could become a Mecca for the dozens of playwrights, directors and actors already living here attempting to fashion a recognizable Boston Style of theater. What a delightful venture with which to open the next century!

I'm also told that, unfortunately, Parcel J is the subject of a counter-proposal centered around The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), which crouches like an unhappy hermit-crab in a quaintly-shaped and wholly inadequate home at Boylston and Mass Avenue which it long ago outgrew. I would love to hear that the "cultural use" of Parcel J could be home to both their project and yours --- but if a choice must be made, mine would be for your theater-oriented ideas.

I can remember that when I arrived in Boston about 1957 I spent a happy summer visiting and revisiting an ICA space near The Publick Theatre where the first of David Smith's "Cubi" sculptures burst into my consciousness like dazzling silver monuments. But, in my experience, the relationship of the ICA to theater has not been a happy one.

When the current exhibition space took shape, an "ICA Theatre" was indeed added in its basement --- a neat, comfortable band-box performing space intended then (1973 or so, wasn't it?) as a permanent home for The Next Move Theatre Company, who did I think three shows there. Since then the theatre has been dark much more than lit, even though it is ideal for many local groups in need of performance space --- I suspect because, seat-for-seat, rentals are prohibitively high. The theatre was used recently, after being empty for almost a year, by a New York import playing to a guaranteed fringe audience. Apparently no indigenous companies with less bankable but more innovative wares have thought the ICA Theatre a viable venue.

Boston's theater artists desperately need a new, clean, accessible space devoted permanently to the live performing arts and, if everything I've heard is true, your plans for Parcel J offer their best hope of realizing that dream.

Therefore I urge Mayor Menino and Boston 2000 to select the Fan Pier Performing Art & Film Center as the City of Boston's Millennium Project.

I understand other theater-lovers and theater-workers have endorsed your proposal --- including Speakeasy Stage Company, 98 Inc. Artists Collaborative, The Clauder Competition, Hip Harp (performer and musician, Deborah Henson-Conant), Local Sightings (David Kleiler), Mrs. Potatohead (Margaret Ann Brady), and Theatrics!
More I'm certain will join them, and me, in sending letters of support to you by e-mail at knickrehm@compuserve.com or by faxing to (617) 354-1788. I'm told time is short and support is urgently needed NOW.

Please ask, if there is anything else you think I might do to ensure your two new theater spaces becoming a reality.

Love,
===Anon.
( a k a larry stark )

NOTE:I have for five years run The Theater Mirror on the internet, and have seen 114 plays in Boston since January --- 140 last year. I know from personal involvement what your plans for Parcel J. can mean to the theatrical community of Boston.
Break a leg with it!

AFTER THE CONTRACT WAS INDEED AWARDED TO THE ICA, THIS LETTER ARRIVED:

Subject: RE: "A Letter of Support for The Fan Pier Performing Arts & Film Center"&127;The Fan Pier Performing Arts & Film Center"&127;&127;&127;
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 15:04:23 EST
From: MikeCeceri@aol.com

"A Letter of Support for The Fan Pier Performing Arts & Film Center"
"....The theatre was used recently, after being empty for almost a year, by a New York import playing to a guaranteed fringe audience. Apparently no indigenous companies with less bankable but more innovative wares have thought the ICA Theatre a viable venue.
Boston's theater artists desperately need a new, clean, accessible space devoted permanently to the live performing arts..."

Larry,
"PARTY was not a New York import (though I am flattered you thought so).. no more so than Speak Easy's "A New Brain" was. DollBoyz Productions is a new local theatre company with plans to bring even more fun, innovative theatre to the stages of Boston for both fringe and mainstream audiences.

We are very thankful for the ICA theatre. Not only was the space perfect for our show, they were professional and accommodating from our first inquiry about rental space through our last day of striking the set. That is more than I can say for the other similar spaces in Boston that would not even return phone calls inquiring about theatre and rehearsal space rental.

We are thrilled the ICA will be getting their new waterfront facility, they were a pleasure to deal with and we hope to do more with them both in the near and distant future.
Mike Ceceri
Cofounder/Producer
DollBoyz Productions



THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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