Thursday, October 12, 2006

Something San Francisco Needs

I've had some conversations recently about what the San Francisco live art scene lacks. There are many local theatre companies, and several theatre houses. But there is no central hub. For avant-garde theatre lovers, New York City is the place to be. One doesn't need to do much wandering around to get an understanding of what the city's theatre scene has to offer. There are more than one centralizing hub of the community. On any given night, a New Yorker can go to P.S. 122 and choose from a number of shows by a number of different theatre companies. Or they can go to HERE, and do the same thing. In those two spaces alone, one will be able to learn what there is to know about New York theatre, and what other performance spaces exist in the city.

San Francisco has a lively theatre scene. There are many performance spaces, and more companies than can fill them. But there is no centralizing hub for the community. There is no single place where one can go to sit in a cafe and have a coffee or a beer before wandering around the art gallery, and finally stopping at the bulletin board of city-wide show announcements and the table of flyers, before filing in to one of the several theatre spaces to see their chosen show.

The closest to this kind of experience in San Francisco is Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  The community element isn't there, though.  It's uninviting, too big, too squeaky clean, to mall-ish.  When I want to immerse myself in the local experimental theatre community, I don't say to myself, "I'll just head down to Yerba Buena, grab a coffee and see what's going on."

I like to daydream about what could be, and where.  Laughing Squid posted this notice today:

----/ The Tentacle List /-----------------------------

"NEW" Historic Chinatown Theater Available

SAN FRANCISCO-- The historic Great Star Theater, the last of SF
Chinatown's major houses, will be holding tours for prospective
renters/ partners on FRIDAY 10/20 and SATURDAY 10/21 at 3pm and by
special appointment. We invite you to give feedback on future
upgrades (or just book the theater!).

RSVP to Jon Lowe -- -- for exact address.
Please forward to film/ video/ theater/ dance/ etc people who may be

The Great Star Theater was built in 1925 as a Cantonese opera house.
Film screenings were added in 1940. The main floor holds 574 seats,
with 125 more in the balcony. There is a working fly system, full
crossover space, and dressing rooms below the stage. Lighting is
rudimentary. There is no sound system. The film projectors have not
been touched since 1999. The projection screen is still in place,
upstage of the linesets used for live performances.

Some office space is available for rent to long-term partners.

Theater rental will be on a sliding scale, tbd. Our goal is to make
the theater accessible to the greater community.

Online images coming soon...

----/ Contact Info /----------------------------------------------------

Jon Lowe


1 comment:

The City Obscure said...

[...] I wonder how how long ‘temporarily’ will be. I’ve written before about my desire to see a centralizing locale for theatre and performance art. The DeAvila School, centered squarely in one of San Francisco’s most artistically vibrant neighborhoods and easily accessible by MUNI, is the perfect candidate. [...]