Breaking news! Richard Foreman's Ontological Theater leaves St. Mark's

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stmarkschurch11From the knock-me-over-with-a-feather department comes this news: Richard Foreman's 18-year tenure at St. Mark's Church is over. The theater just sent out this press release, stating, "The Ontological-Hysteric Theater announced today that it will cease operations at the theater space at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery at the end of the 2009--2010 season (June 30, 2010)." It also promises that, "Mr. Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theater will continue to function. While not eliminating the possibility of occasional theatrical production, it will focus on film/video work under the subset of the International Bridge Project."

The programming arm of the Ontological, the Incubator, will take over the lease, and so in many ways our theatergoing lives will continue on undisrupted. It's just that we'll have to look elsewhere to get our Foreman fix. This does sound like an exciting opportunity for the Incubator and its gutsy curatorship to come fully into its own, but, as with all change, we're feeling rather wistful around the office. TONY's own David Cote says:

The Ontological was practically my second home from 1992 to 1997. That was a really distinct time in downtown theater: the rise of Eric Dyer and Radiohole, Target Margin Theater, Collapsable Giraffe and lots of other talented folk. I acted in about a dozen shows and workshops at the space, saw my first Foreman there, and eventually played a Large Male Dwarf in his Pearls for Pigs (although that was not rehearsed or presented at the Ontological). I saw my first Richard Maxwell in that building. Damn. I spent a lot of time there. I hope Richard throws a big, messy, beer-and-barbecue party in the courtyard before he clears out.

Shannon Sindelar, who will continue as head of the Incubator (she says they are still bandying around names), sounds pumped. "It was a long time coming!" she says. Since Foreman's Idiot Savant was at the Public this year, she and her cocurators had control year-round this year, and the mix of emerging artists and established (Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, for instance) will be their pattern for the future. So, begone wistfulness! The more things change, the more St. Mark's will be a beacon for theatrical adventure.

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