Talking With Noel Joseph Allain, Artistic Director and Founder of The Bushwick Starr

Photo via The Bushwick Starr

“There’s currently a thriving independent theater and performance scene in Brooklyn,” says Noel Joseph Allain, founder and artistic director of The Bushwick Starr. “Some of the most exciting spaces are JACK, Invisible Dog, BRIC, Silent Barn, The Brick, and, of course, St. Ann’s Warehouse. The people who start these places are dynamic and innovative, and maybe a little bit crazy.”

On the state of indie theater over the next decade: “Hopefully still kicking! We’re terrified. The development is happening so quickly that it’s very hard to imagine growing fast enough to survive as a small non-profit renting a space. But, we intend to. We’ve been working hard to build our relationship with the city in order to secure a permanent home…In New York you have to have a dream you keep pursuing, keep building towards. You need to stay disciplined and pragmatic, but always in order to serve that larger vision. Joe Papp once said, ‘if an institution isn’t growing it’s dying’ and I think that’s right. But the city feels so volatile and you have to grow smart… You’ll see the institutions that were the most diligent and disciplined still around and growing, and you’ll also have the DIY spaces popping up all the time, just in different parts of the city, and some of them will stick around and some of them will disappear, like always.”

On the benefits and drawbacks of operating in Brooklyn: “Two sides of the same coin. The development has taken the neighborhood by storm and that has raised rents through the roof in a way that would be comical if it wasn’t so disgusting. We’re afraid we’ll lose our space before we’re ready to move or simply won’t be able to afford to live here anymore. On the other hand, the development has brought a lot of attention to the neighborhood and a lot more people who end up coming to the theater.”


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