Advocate Article on the Move

Here’s the article about our move from this week’s Advocate written by Rebecca Dravis.  Many thanks to Ms. Dravis for the excellent article!  I apologize about the headline; it is making its own picture art, but it reads as follows: “Main Street Stage in North Adams is charting a new future after being asked to leave its theater.”

Main Street Stage in North Adams is charting a

new future after being asked to leave its theater

Posted: 04/06/2011 12:59:01 PM EDT
Wednesday April 6, 2011

When Main Street Stage produces “The Seagull” in May, it will be the theater company’s last production on that stage.

Those involved with the 12-year-old community theater group hope it won’t be their last production — period.

Alexia Trainor, founder and artistic director, said Main Street Stage has been asked to leave its space at 57 Main St. in North Adams because the shop next door — Creations — asked the building’s landlord, Scarafoni Associates, to expand. Scarafoni agreed and gave Main Street Stage until the end of May to vacate the space.

“Business is business,” Trainor said in an April 1 interview.

Trainor said being asked to leave was a surprise to her because it came on the heels of a conversation between Scarafoni and Main Street Stage about a three-year lease. The theater company never had a lease.

“It went from ‘Oh my god’ to ‘Oh my god, what are we going to do now?’” Trainor said.

That question is what is foremost on the minds of the people involved with growing the theater company over the past 12 years.

Ed Sedarbaum, current president of the board of directors, said the group has looked at “seven or eight” other properties in North Adams, but finding a space that will accommodate their physical equipment, such as lights, as well as accessibility and safety issues, has not been easy. Still, he said the company hopes to have an announcement about its future by mid- to late-May — right around when “The Seagull” ends its three-week run.

Sedarbaum said Main Street Stage is working closely with the Partnership for North Adams — whose CEO, former state Rep. Dan Bosley, also is a member of the theater company’s board of directors — to ensure the company has a future in North Adams. Trainor echoed a commitment to keeping the theater in North Adams.

“We didn’t want to move it anywhere else,” she said. “It’s perfect for this area. We’re all invested in the community.”

In fact, that investment was about to grow, as Main Street Stage was working on big longer-term plans for the company.

“This comes at an unusual time for us,” Sedarbaum said.

Sedarbaum and Trainor both said the theater has been built up through the dedication of its volunteers over the past 12 years — from the seating to the equipment to the manpower behind it.

“Everything we built. This was pretty much an empty space,” Trainor said.

And build they did, creating an intimate 50-seat theater that allowed the company itself to perform a variety of plays but also be a resource to the community. For instance, the space is used by Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project, a six-month, out-of-school activity that uses theater to help at-risk youth develop positive self-images.

In addition, the theater company was about to expand with endeavors such as creating a Playwright Mentoring Project-type program for area senior citizens, building up children’s programming and adding child-care services to allow more parents to come see plays. The company recently launched a bimonthly comedy night series and hoped to add a similar music series in the coming months as well.

Instead, now the group has to regroup.

They are not doing it alone. Both Trainor and Sedarbaum said that in addition to Bosley, Mayor Richard Alcombright has offered his support and advice, as well as state Sen. Ben Downing.

And they are not doing it blindly. After having spent 12 years building their space, they now have a better idea of what to look for in a new space, which ultimately could mean good things for the theater company.

“We know we want wings,” Trainor said.

Sedarbaum said the goal is to keep the theater an intimate theater space — perhaps seating 50 to 75 people — but that also can open up for cabaret-style events. In the meantime, though, Trainor said it’s possible that the theater company will have to “take to the streets” between physical locations.

“We are laying plans on how to be a theater without a theater if we have to be for a while,” Sedarbaum said.

Still, his enthusiasm for the theater company’s future is obvious, even in the face of a such a large setback.

“It’s going to be great,” he said. “We will discover new parts of ourselves.”

Keeping a positive attitude is the only way Trainor said she is making it through this rough time, as she sees the fruits of her labor over the years being dismantled.

“It’s exciting in a way,” she said. “It’s scary. Change is always scary.”

Trainor said something she had read in the Small Theatre Handbook had this advice for companies: “Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with your space.”

As the founder of Main Street Stage, she clearly loves the theater, but she’s trying to keep a bright outlook in the future by remembering one important thing.

“It isn’t the space that makes us who we are,” she said. “What makes us who we are is our group of people.”

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