Up until now, anyone wanting to see an Alley Theater show would enter a maze. That is, if one could find the place at all. It was located at The Pointe in Butchertown, which is more used as an office building than a theatre space.
Alley Theater was located on the basement floor of The Pointe, but good luck trying to find the actual theater. There were signs pointing the way to the theater space, but audience members would have to follow carefully. First-timers and even some returning theater visitors could easily find themselves turned around among the long, dusty hallways and identical-looking doors.
Once inside the space, people would have to be quiet in case a production was going on. The walls between Alley Theater’s two performance spaces, the dressing room, the office, and the main lobby were mostly just curtains, flats, and flimsy pieces of wood.
After four years at The Pointe, those involved with Alley Theater knew it was time to move on. Starting this year, the independent theater company, known for its pop-culture parodies, progressive works, and experimental shows, will perform shows in its new space in downtown Louisville at 633 West Main Street.
Alley Theater producing director Scott Davis said the incomplete state of the theater in The Pointe was one of the main reasons for the move downtown.
“The Pointe was a great potential location,” Davis said. “However, without pointing blame at any party, it appeared we would never be able to complete the space and have what we had been promising to our patrons for years without moving. We really wanted to make good on that promise.”
Another main reason was to increase the theater’s visibility. The new location is three blocks or less from other major Louisville attractions, including Museum Row, The 21c Museum and Hotel, Muhammad Ali Center, and performance spaces like Kentucky Center for the Arts and Actors Theatre.
Alley Theater actor Kimby Peterson said the visibility of the downtown location, especially near two major theaters, would not only help Alley Theater but also help the downtown arts scene.
“Hopefully, our brand of nonconformity will be a welcome change from the more traditional theatre in the arts hotbed there,” Peterson said.
Christie Troxell, also an Alley Theater regular actor, also praised the increased visibility that comes with the new location, specifically the foot traffic.
“At the old space, there wasn’t an opportunity for foot traffic advertisement or walk-in patrons,” Troxell said. “Now, there will be many people walking by on lunch during the week, and maybe they see something intriguing on the window. Instead of going straight home after work, they can stop in for a show.”
Meanwhile, for artistic director Todd Ziegler, it’s a chance for Alley’s creative forces to embrace new possibilities for staging shows. Alley Theater’s play lineups include pop-culture parodies, audience participation-heavy performances, traditional shows, original works, and festivals dedicated to the undead and, coming later in 2014, superheroes.
“I think there has always been a unique charm to see how we pull the things we pull off,” Ziegler said. “An Alley show is always an engaging event. At our new space, we can do all the things we do at an even more exciting level.”
The new space will feature multiple improvements, including handicapped access, easy-to-find restrooms, walls that are finished and insulated, and better floors and dressing rooms.
“The only construction we have to do is putting in the theater and the moving of some walls,” Davis said.
Currently, construction is in what Davis calls “phase one”. The mainstage is being set up now alongside an experimental area, much like what Alley Theater had at The Pointe. Unlike the former space, however, the Main Street set up will have the two areas utilizing the same area. This means two shows cannot run concurrently. Davis says that with time, however, they hope to add a second performance space.
With the construction, Alley Theater will postpone its 2014 theater season until at least March.
Also, construction costs money. Alley Theater operates as a non-profit, meaning funds are limited. To obtain additional funding, Alley Theater has set up a donation website for people who wish to help out. Donations can be made between $1 and $5,000 per person.Those who donate various levels of funding can receive extra benefits, such as free tickets, naming a seat, and even naming the theater space for up to three years. Other information about donations can be obtained through managing director Nicole Schoenbaechler or The Alley Theater website.