There is a new cheap theater in town at a noble address. On June 4, Lincoln Center Theater will open a space dedicated to presenting the work of new artists and all the plays will have a ticket price of $20.
The 23,000-square foot building sits on the roof of the Vivian Beaumont Theater and will be home to LCT3, a branch of Lincoln Center Theater dedicated to new works.
The two-story $42 million space was designed by architect Hugh Hardy and houses the new 112-seat Claire Tow Theater, along with a bar, and rehearsal and office spaces.
Andre Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, says the new theater is a much-needed addition to the cultural organization.
“We were falling behind artistically … because we didn’t have enough space to develop the new generation,” he said.
Bishop says the Claire Tow Theater will present three plays this year, and beginning next year, four plays annually. The organization has raised the $2 million to fund its first season, but will have to raise additional funds for subsequent seasons.
Lincoln Center Theater is not the only theater company to open smaller stages with more affordable ticket prices.
Earlier this year, Signature Theater opened a new space on West 42nd Street that includes a stage with tickets for $25. And in September, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will open a small stage with tickets for $20.
But David Cote, theater editor for Time Out New York, thinks Lincoln Center puts itself in a unique position with the new space.
“Lincoln Center always had the potential to be New York’s National Theater,” he said, referring to the London institution. “A place where you can go, where theater is celebrated, where it’s being produced constantly, all year round. Where there is a sense of activity and excitement. I mean, it’s hard to find that in New York.”
LCT3 intends to present work by upcoming artists and ultimately to bring their work to Lincoln Center Theater’s two other big stages.
Paige Evans, artistic director of LCT3, says she is looking for very particular pieces.
“It is a big challenge to try to find work that I think is strong enough,” she said. “Work that feels fitting for Lincoln Center, but also is bold and has an edge to it.”
LCT3 will open the Claire Tow Theater with “Slowgirl,” a play about a niece and uncle who reconnect in Costa Rica. The play was written by Greg Pierce, and will be his second produced play.
Pierce says he has admired Lincoln Center since he was a kid, when he came to New York from Vermont to see his uncle act in productions.
“Lincoln Center Theater and BAM were the two places that, as a kid, I was wowed by them,” he said.
But Pierce also admits he is a bit intimidated about being the first playwright to stage a work in the new space: “It’s nerve-racking.”
Slowgirl” opens at the Claire Tow Theater on June 4. In September, LCT3 will present three performances of “We’re Going to Die,” by playwright and actor Young Jean Lee. In October “Disgraced,” by Ayad Akhtar, takes the stage.