robertisenberg

Guided Tour : The Studio Theatre

In Guided Tour, Pittsburgh on July 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Starting today, The : Ark presents a series of guided tours, to Pittsburgh and its environs. These short descriptions first appeared on an enormous city guide called DigitalCity, a subsidiary of AOL. I contributed several hundred such descriptions from 2003-2006, and I am immeasurably proud of my time there. I will start reviving those descriptions here because (a) many are still current, (b) I loved writing them, and (c) they have been stricken from the web.

Interestingly, some restauranteurs were so smitten with my descriptions that they actually printed and framed them for their vestibule walls.

I will start with the Studio Theatre, partly because of all the fond memories, and partly in honor of The Mistakes Madelene Made, opening this weekend with the No Name Players. (I was honored with the task of taking the press photograph, above).

Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre is the most bare-bones performance space in the city: no special lights, no lobby with couches and espresso machine, and no comfortable chairs for the audience. Entering the Studio is like discovering someone’s attic for the first time – the musty smell and dust-covered surfaces look untouched. Even the walls look provisional, as they’re composed from ancient railroad ties, and are frequently dismantled and reconstructed to furnish different theater productions.

But behind its rough-around-the-edges veneer, the Studio Theatre is also a beloved space, by actors and theatergoers alike. Deceptively large, able to hold just over a hundred, the Studio is the perfect setting for intimate dramas, rollicking cabarets, riveting chamber plays, and manic sketch comedy. Normally the choice environment for the University of Pittsburgh’s smaller theater, all kinds of plays have taken place here, including world premieres and first-time translations. A regular stomping ground for Friday Night Improvs, Dog & Pony Show and the Dark Night Cabaret, the Studio is Pittsburgh’s mecca for independent, underground arts.

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