jakub | February 25, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | New Ohio Theatre to Close This Summer


NEW YORK CITY: New Ohio Theatre has announced that it will close up shop at the end of the current season on Aug. 31. The closure will mark the end of the theatre’s programs, including Ice Factory, Now in Process, Theatre for Young Minds, New Ohio Presents, and New Ohio Hosts. The Archive Residency program (in partnership with IRT Theater) will conclude in spring 2024 and the NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival may continue independently.

“We had a hell of a run,” said founding artistic director Robert Lyons in a statement, who has been with the company for all of its 30 years, including at its former space on Wooster Street Soho. “We think theatre organizations have their own natural lifespans. This is a perfect moment for new ideas, new energy, and new models for the indie theatre scene.”

The theatre cites Lyons’s intention to step down as artistic director, the shifting landscape and dynamics of the field, and increased financial pressures as contributing factors to the decision, as well as a desire to step aside and make space for the next generation of theatre-makers.

Lyons will continue to work with collaborator Daniel Irizarry on bringing their September 2022 show My Onliness to Warsaw and beyond. They will also continue to tour their earlier project Yovo. Both plays were included in My Onliness and Others, a collection of Lyons’s plays published by Mercer Street Books in fall 2022. Lyons is also embarking on a new programming initiative with the Stissing Center in the Hudson Valley: Downtown Upstate, which will bring indie NYC productions to upstate performance spaces.

The theatre’s current 74-seat space at 154 Christopher St. in the West Village will remain a home for nonprofit theatre. The building’s landlord, Rockrose Development, is accepting proposals in a similar process to the one that brought New Ohio Theatre to the space 12 years ago. At 154 Christopher, New Ohio conducted a floor-to-ceiling renovation including the installation of a sprung stage, grid, risers, HVAC system, and dressing room bathroom.

Flyer for the New Ohio’s theatre space at 154 Christopher St.

“We’re proud to have stewarded this space for 12 years and to be able to hand it off a dramatically improved, turn-key theatre,” said board chair Margaret Grossman in a statement.

Lyons founded Soho Think Tank (Ohio Theatre) on Wooster Street in 1994 as a hotbed of downtown theatre inspiration and experimentation. Through a variety of developing, presenting, producing, and hosting programs, Ohio Theatre fostered long-term relationships with NYC theatre artists and independent theatre companies. In 2011, the organization moved to the historic Archive Building in the West Village where it continued to support the next generation of indie theatre artists.

“I am deeply grateful to all the theatremakers who have shared their amazing talents with us over these many years,” said Lyons in a statement, “and for all the audience members who brought their hunger for exciting new work.”

Over the last 30 years, New Ohio has produced work that has gone on to garner Drama Desk nominations, Obie Awards, Audience First Awards in Edinburgh, Off-Broadway productions, and national and international tours. Striving to serve as a vital hub of the independent theatre community, New Ohio has been awarded two Obie Awards for Sustained Excellence. As of 2020, New Ohio had an approximate budget of $265,000.

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