Erie’s theater wild child settles down

Sep 4 • Arts & Leisure • 267

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Dramashop, a fairly new creation in the sphere of Erie theater, has finally found a home.

Dramashop’s first two seasons were spent jostling sets, actors and audience members from location to location for every show.

But for its third season, Dramashop has named the Renaissance Center in downtown Erie as its home.

Zach Flock, assistant director for the Office of Admissions at Gannon University and a board member and one of the founders of Dramashop, said finding a home became necessary. Averaging seven shows a year, Dramashop found itself with no storage space, no set-rehearsal space and the task of building a new set for each show.

Now, however, Dramashop can officially settle down. The mutual agreement between the Renaissance Center, which has featured Dramashop several times in the past two years, and the young theater company comes as a welcome change to all involved.

“We understand that there are limitations with the space,” Flock said. “But having a home gave us a concrete idea of where we’re going.”

Dramashop has been committed to providing a unique theater experience to Erie.

It promotes shows that other organizations can’t focus on. The Renaissance Center provides just the stage for Dramashop’s purpose. Seating just under 50 people, the center allows for a personal, intimate theatre experience.

“We’ll sell, at most, 48 seats,” Flock said. “We don’t need a huge theater, but there is an under-serviced audience that will like what we’re doing.”

The Renaissance Center also allows Dramashop to invest in the future. Flock said he hopes the agreement between Dramashop and the owners will continue.

This piece of mind means Dramashop can invest in essentials like a light board. In addition, the time and manpower – things no theater company has an excess of –  usually spent recreating sets for each show can be devoted to the promulgation of the organization as a whole.

Dramashop has been looking into a permanent home for some time.

Although the decision hadn’t been made to lease the Renaissance Center, the board approached its third season with different eyes.

“Knowing we wanted the Renaissance Center didn’t change the type of shows we chose,” Flock said.

Flock said knowing the type of space Dramashop could use just helped to cement things.

The agreement between the Renaissance Center and Dramashop has given, and will continue to give, an identity to one of Erie’s newest theater companies.

An audience looking for the underground, unique experience Dramashop offers will now have a place to look.

Dramashop will no longer jostle its audiences from stage to stage.

Instead, it will spend its third season, and perhaps many more, housed by the Renaissance Center.

Information on Dramashop and upcoming shows can be found at dramashop.org.

 

CRISTEN MANION

manion001@knights.gannon.edu

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