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Theatre for a New Audience Gets a Home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Shakespeare will soon have a new home in downtown Brooklyn. The Theatre for a New Audience broke ground on its new space in the BAM Cultural District on Friday. It's scheduled to open in 2013.

Once completed, the new 299-seat theater, which will be built on the city-owned parking lot on Ashland Place between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, will be the newest addition to the BAM Cultural District. The district is centered in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood and is already home to 40 arts and cultural institutions. Over the next several years, the city will invest $100 million to expand the district, according to Mayor Bloomberg's office.

“Theatre for a New Audience may have spent nearly 40 years wandering in the glittering desert known as Manhattan, but you weren’t lost because now you’ve found your way to the big stage in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at a press conference on Friday.

The new building on Ashland will be the first permanent home that Theatre for a New Audience has had, a group that specializes in performing work by Shakespeare and by other classical playwrights. The theater will put on three to four productions a year and will bring 120 full-time and seasonal jobs to the neighborhood.

The city is contributing $34 million of the $48 million required to construct the 27,500 square-foot space, which is designed by Hugh Hardy, and will be a block from the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Julie Taymor, the former director of the $70 million musical "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark," will direct the theater’s inaugural show, the title of which has not yet been announced. At Friday's press conference, she said the theater would help make "The Bard" a part of young children's lives.

"Not just Shakespeare, but the classics," she said. "They are so freeing because they are so far from television and reality TV that they really open the imagination."

Taymor has been involved with Theatre for a New Audience as a designer and director since the 1980’s.