From the late 1980s though the late '90s, New York's Poor Theater had its own Poverty Row, a crossroads in the heart of the Lower East Side that had more in common with grunge than Grotowski. At its peak circa 1999, one could count close to a dozen Off-Off-Broadway venues in the area bounded by Allen, Ridge, Houston, and Delancey streets. To a generation of NYC theater artists, this downscale neighborhood was home. While some may have been turned off by the filling-station-style rest rooms, the garbage under the seats, and the fire-sale sets and props, others were touched by the youthful enthusiasm that imbued the scene with a kind of magic. The houses that anchored it, run by bulldog impresarios with Ahab-like fanaticism, seemed indestructible, if only because the Grim Reaper wouldn't tarnish his scythe on them. Now, with the January loss of the Present Company Theatorium and the upcoming closure of Surf Reality, all but one of the strip's theaters will be history—victims of economics, burnout, and... More >>>