Sunday, January 18, 2009

The successes of elsewhere

Upright Citizens Brigade, presenting improvised comedy, will replace Pioneer Cinema at Two Boots. UCB cultivates new talent, providing experience and training as well as entertainment. It's applying for a beer & wine license.

In a neighborhood losing its performance spaces, UCB will serve the EV by preserving the Pioneer space as a theater. Entertainment thrives in a depression economy, especially affordable entertainment, and UCB shows, when not free, are only $5. Comedy, by nature subversive when not merely infantile, may hope to match a strand in the older East Village crazy fabric.

UCB has theaters in Los Angeles and in Chelsea (of all places); it is not a local outgrowth of the East Village. Its college-age singles inclinations, endorsed by the beer&wine license, may seem to have little relation to the kind of radical, experimental, countercultural, marginal theater most associated with the East Village. A bellwether of a new direction, a non local make-over, it's Comedy Central encamping in EV grounds once daunting with difference, fast turning harmlessly homogenous. UCB is setting up here in part because its audience is here.

Pioneer was closer to the historical local character. The neighborhood marginal alternative movie theater is an important element of EV's past and present, from the Charles in the 1960s to Cinema Classics until recently on 11th. Pioneer was a serious and significant contributor to that history.

Rents remain high here as EV arts struggle to stay where they are. I don't know how UCB will meld into the East Village arts scene, but its arrival signals a shift from a local, unique homegrown arts economy to economic dependence on the successes of elsewhere.

1 comment:

seej said...

There's a building going up on East Broadway (between rutgers and pike slip, north side of the street) that's going to be 15 stories (or so the construction crew tells me). Its going to be the tallest thing around, and I have a suspicion is not zoned for 15 stories. Am wondering where I can complain/find out more about this building.