Space 55 Theatre Is Looking for a New Home — Here's Why

The Space 55 theater ensemble's current location, which was recently sold.EXPAND
The Space 55 theater ensemble's current location, which was recently sold.
Lynn Trimble
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Space 55 Theatre, a staple of the Valley's alternative theater scene, is looking for a new home. The downtown Phoenix company announced the news on its Facebook page on Friday, August 25.

"The building we're in was sold," says Duane Daniels, artistic director for the ensemble-style theater. The building is located on the northwest corner of Seventh and Pierce streets.

The building's new owner has not been announced, but Daniels suspects it could be the University of Arizona. The U of A College of Medicine is part of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, a multi-organization initiative to make downtown Phoenix a bioscience hub. Most of that campus is situated between Fourth and Seventh streets, from Garfield to Monroe streets.

Space 55 is planning to relocate after a three-week run for Ear, the first show of their 2017-18 season. "It's a really dark, surreal play that's not for the faint of heart," Daniels says of the play, which was inspired by artist Vincent Van Gogh. Ear opens on Friday, September 8, and closes on Sunday, October 1.

Space 55 staffers have yet to announce a new location, but they expect to find something soon.

"We have a couple of pretty promising possibilities," Daniels says.

Space 55 was founded in 2006 by Shawna Franks, who served for many years as artistic director. Daniels became artistic director in 2015, when Franks returned to Chicago, where she first launched her theater career. Back in 2011, Space 55 performed in the New York International Fringe Festival.

The ensemble currently has eight members, including Ear playwright Ashley Naftule, who's also a New Times contributor.

The company performs new work by local playwrights, as well as classic theater works and seasonal favorites such as A Bloody Mary Christmas. And it has an in-house playwriting group called the Space 55 Writer's Group.

For Daniels, the move is a double whammy.

He operates the Actor's Workshop out of a bungalow adjacent to Space 55's current home, but says that space was also sold. The building has been on the market for a while, which helped prompt other businesses once located there to move sooner.

In January 2016, Jorge Ignacio Torres moved his Palabra hair salon and art space to First Street south of Roosevelt Street. Previously it was located at 630 East Pierce Street, inside the same building as Space 55. Nostra Style House once had space there, too.

Despite the news, Daniels is feeling optimistic.

The air conditioner at their current building isn't great during summer months, Daniels says. So that's meant not doing shows in June, July, or August. He's hoping for a new location where that's not an issue.

"We have an opportunity to find a venue that's better for us."

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