New Ohio Theatre, a downtown institution of New York City's independent theatre scene for 30 years will close its doors August 31, the end of its current season.
Along with increased financial pressures, other factors cited as part of the decision include the field's shifting landscape, and Founding Artistic Director Robert Lyons' decision to step down from leading the theatre. “We had a hell of a run,” said Lyons in a statement. He continued, “We think theatre organizations have their own natural life spans. This is a perfect moment for new ideas, new energy, and new models for the indie theatre scene."
Founded in 1994 under the name Soho Think Tank, it rebranded as the New Ohio Theatre and moved to the West Village's Archive Building. It has fostered works which have subsequently played Off-Broadway, had national and international tours, and earned earned Drama Desk nominations, Obie Awards, and Audience First Awards in Edinburgh. During its history, New Ohio Theatre has been recognized with two Obie Awards for Sustained Excellence.
While most of New Ohio Theatre's programs will conclude with its closing, The Archive Residency program presented in partnership with IRT Theater will conclude in spring 2024, and the future of NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival is not yet decided.
The theatre occupied a 74-seat space at 154 Christopher Street. Its landlord Rockrose Development is accepting proposals beginning February 15 for a new not-for-profit theatre to take up residency. Since New Ohio Theatre became a tenant 12 years ago, it has completed a full renovation including the installation of a new sprung stage, a new grid, new risers, an HVAC system, and a bathroom in the dressing room for actors.
Lyons and collaborator Daniel Irizarry continue to work on presenting their show My Onliness abroad, as well as touring their work Yovo. Another project of Lyons is a new programming initiative with the Stissing Center in the Hudson Valley called DOWNTOWN UPSTATE which aims to transfer independent productions from New York City theatres to upstate performance spaces.
Over the years, New Ohio Theatre has been supported by its staff, individual donors, and long-term funders which include Mental Insight Foundation, Peg Santvoord Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Emma Sheafer Charitable Trust, the Samuels Foundation, and government support from DCLA, NYSCA, and the NEA.