One down, one to go.
Profile Theatre, one of two companies losing their leases in Southeast Portland’s Theater! Theatre! building, has struck a deal to become a resident company at the Artists Repertory Theatre space in the west end section of downtown. The Oregonian’s Marty Hughley has the story here.
That leaves Theatre Vertigo, the other company in residence in Belmont Street’s Theater! Theatre! space, still looking for a place to land. Or maybe not. Vertigo’s Brooke Calcagno said on Saturday that the company will announce its own relocation plan on March 19 at its season announcement party and auction at the Blue Monk cafe and bar on Belmont. Some theater insiders have speculated that Vertigo will land at CoHo Theatre, a sweet small space in Northwest Portland that could use a regular tenant. Come the 19th, we’ll see whether the speculation is right.
The swift regroupings by Profile and Vertigo have forestalled what just last month looked like a genuine crisis after the building’s owner, who also owns the Tao of Tea, announced he needed the whole space to expand his own business. Both theater companies might actually have found better homes than the one they’re leaving. Profile’s move into part of Artists Rep’s large space in two connected buildings further stamps Artists Rep as a genuine performing arts center. Portland Shakespeare Project is already in residence as a summer performing group, and Profile’s addition will ensure that the buildings’ two performing spaces are in full play year ’round. Profile had already announced it planned to switch from a fall-through-spring season to a calendar-year season. Scheduling the three companies will require some flexibility, but the payoff will be that something will almost always be onstage. Profile will move its offices to space at Artists Rep in June, and should be able to move its technical operations there, too.
If Vertigo does move to the west side, the big loser in the theater shuffle will be east Portland. Theater! Theatre! is at the heart of a bustling eastside urban scene, and it’s been the core of the growing theater movement on the east side of the Willamette River. There are other eastside spaces, from Headwaters on the far north end to Imago, Shoebox, Shaking the Tree, Hipbone, Defunkt’s Back Door Theatre in Southeast and Triangle Productions’ Sanctuary building on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. But Theater! Theatre! has been the center of the east side scene.
Will something eventually replace it, or will theater fall behind the east side’s vibrant club, art, dance, food, bar, shopping, and live/work cultures? We won’t get the answer to that on March 19. There are no big ready-made theater spaces on the east side for quick turnaround. But there are plenty of intriguing buildings that could be retrofitted. But what existing companies can afford the cost of that? We could be waiting a lot longer for the answer. In the meantime, a toast to Profile, Vertigo, Artists Rep, and the city’s audiences. Crisis averted. Things are looking up.