In 2008, I had finished graduate school… and after summer gigs at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and in Cyprus, as well as a trip to paint murals in China, I moved to NYC where I took over management and artistic direction of a black box theatre and rehearsal space just off of Times Square.
We renamed and rebranded it “The Space” sometime that summer, and threw a giant re-opening party dubbed “The Space Party”, which turned out to be the biggest event ever in the building. People still remember it fondly.
I rebuilt the stage and a tech booth, hung new curtains all around the theatre that had been donated, and co-organized the event. Basically, we offered free food and drink for a whole evening and night for attendees by invite only. We invited acting companies, dancers, musicians, etc. to perform in blocks of about 7 minutes in the black box theatre, while we had food and drink in the rehearsal/dance space and lounge at the same time. People could move in and out through the spaces during the night, performers and companies had the opportunity to showcase their work to the most welcoming audiences, and we cleared the theatre at midnight, dropped a disco ball, and DJed a dance party. It was memorable.
The Space was a great period of time for me. We had an interesting model, which included offering free use of a lounge space with internet for actors in midtown. In between auditions, and unable to get back home to rest, actors would drop in to The Space. Performers pinned their headshots or company info to the lounge wall, and often networked there. I built a large white screen into the upstage of the theatre wall, and we often would show movies or play Wii games on it in the evening.
I had assembled a resident company of actors in that year, and we performed a new reading of Pericles and a new translation of Uncle Vanya under my direction. I had written a number of other short works about NYC and intended to run a bi-weekly show called Express Stops (somewhat inspired by Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind from my undergraduate days close to Chicago), but in the winter of 2008, the effects of the economy had us pass the theatre on to other hands and I was off to Korea for a few months, not knowing I would end up abroad for the next 5 years.
“…John Knauss, as Jake, and Libby Skala, as Rachel, carry the momentum of the play on their shoulders, as they execute the almost dance-like transitions… portray(ing) multiple characters, each with bold choices.” (Jennifer Rathbone, TheaterOnline.com)
“Director Day has recruited a first-class cast… and strong supportive roles are forthcoming from John Knauss, Libby Skala, Joanne Joseph, and Arthur Pellman.” (Irene Backalenick, All About Jewish Theatre)
“Both (roles) are played by John Knauss. Rudi’s relationship with any one of these characters is filled with enough tension to comprise a play in itself.” (Paulanne Simmons, CurtainUp)
“Arthur Pellman, John Knauss, Drew Dix, and Joanne Joseph (as the fairly clueless, but very warm and lovely Hanni) create a very strong supporting cast, offering believable performances and realistic accents.” (Julie Congress, nytheatre.com)