The Empty Space is now living up to its name, literally: Not a soul will be treading its Fremont Avenue North boards this fall. The stellar theater hasn't packed it in—in fact, its upcoming season looks stronger than ever—but it has temporarily moved out of its longtime location. At three-quarters of a century old, the former Odd Fellows Hall had decay under its bricks (our recent quake didn't help that process any), and the two walls on its south side have to be rebuilt.
With the heralded new creative leadership of Allison Narver promising to give the company fresh aesthetic support, it was probably to be expected that something had to give and things would start falling apart on the outside. Folks in the theater's administrative and box office staff tried admirably to bear the general noise and overwhelming dust that comes with reconstruction, but you can only push nonprofit people so far.
"One day we were in there, and the bathroom wall caved in," Narver recalls. "And there was a construction worker on the other side."
Meanwhile, it looks as though the season opener, the acclaimed Matthew Shepard documentarylike reflection The Laramie Project, will show up a week late and in a different venue. Negotiations are under way for the production to take up residence in the Eve Alvord space at Seattle Children's Theater, with previews beginning around Nov. 14 (the play's original opening date, which will now most likely be Tuesday, Nov. 20). The Space's second show, a world premiere adaptation of camp classic Valley of the Dolls, is still set to mark the official return to the Fremont home in January. Narver says the much-anticipated romp will be "looking at Valley of the Dolls from a young boy's perspective." Considering the fact that the boy in question is co-adapter Burton Curtis, whose comic ingenuity has long been a boon for the theater, things are definitely looking up, despite what's coming down.
For now, the Empty Space has settled into administrative offices on 35th in Fremont, across from the Still Life coffeehouse. The Wick Building is roomier, a bit more upscale, and decidedly different than the theater's former digs.
"It looks like the office where Darrin Stevens worked in Bewitched," Narver laughs. "It really does feel like going into Larry Tate's office everyday."