CULTURE: Welcome (back) to The Flea Theater! (1.24.18)
Who needs Broadway when you've got some of the best theater in New York below Canal Street? The Flea Theater, founded in 1996, is a theatre in Tribeca that features shows for all ages, with a consistently strong selection of features. They also just reopened with some great shows and a beautifully updated venue. We spoke Aleesha Nash, Audience Development Associate, to learn about The Flea, including their recent renovations and incredible 2018 lineup...
Tell us about The Flea....
The Flea was founded in 1996 by a group of downtown artists looking to raise a joyful hell in a small space. That same spirit of adventure and excitement, which defines Off-Off-Broadway, also defines The Flea.
We don’t just encourage risk, we invest in it – in work that wouldn’t be produced elsewhere, and in early-career artists who wouldn’t gain opportunities elsewhere. As a result, our stages are filled with new plays, fueled by emerging talent, and focused on urgent stories that reflect the world around us.
The Flea champions those voices least likely to be at the forefront of our culture. We also champion fun – pushing the limits of live theater with participatory and durational work, or luxuriating unabashedly in the pleasure of storytelling. From early-morning fairytales to late-night serials, our lobbies stay buzzing and our stages hopping. True to our name, at The Flea you are bound to see something that gets under your skin.
Why did you choose to close and do renovations?
Our Producing Director, Carol Ostrow, worried about skyrocketing rent at our previous location and started looking for relocation options and then spent years raising money to build and operate the new facility. We were happy to find a new space so close to our previous location on White Street. Our grand opening was September 28, 2017, however, the 20+ year history and spirit of The Flea followed us 4 blocks south.
What is your favorite part of The Flea?
The Bats, our resident acting company is by far my favorite aspect of The Flea. The company is currently comprised of over 100 artists who are truly dedicated to the craft of acting and to the theater community as a whole. It’s inspiring. I’m constantly motivated and uplifted by their energy and commitment.
What should locals know about The Flea?
The Flea offers programming presents shows for all ages and strives to showcase voices that you might not see above Canal Street.
What is it like running a theater below Canal Street?
Great! Because we are in a wonderful neighborhood. The combination of the Tribeca families and the people who work in the financial district creates a unique opportunity to reach more of a diverse audience then you might find at other theaters. As the Audience Development Associate, one of my goals is to make sure that every person feels welcomed in our space. It's important to me and for the long-term strategy of The Flea to make sure that we have a diverse audience... diverse in age, color, ability, storytelling style, and opportunities to engage with us.
What are your favorite local spots below Canal Street?
We love Souths Bar and Restaurant. We also frequent Petrarca Cucina e Vino, Tribeca's Kitchen, and The Odeon. Pret-A-Manger at the corner of Thomas Street and Broadway has definitely won our hearts and armed us with hot coffee each day.