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History of The Alchemical Theatre

The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory name has a history that dates from 1981. The Alchemical was an important part of the East Village independent arts scene: first in a basement on E. 9 St. (hosting artists like John Zorn and The Improvisers Network) and then on E. 13 St., presenting the first East Village Jazz Festival, a swingin’ poetry series (curated by John Farris) which included beat poet Jack Micheline, and poet/playwright Amiri Baraka. They put together many beautiful “Alchemical Evenings” featuring the fabulous and unique performers who where around at that time. They also occupied the New York Theatre Ensemble building on E. 4 St. (now the Duo Theatre) for a year, where they ran Artists Present Artists, a series of music, film, theatre, and dance. 

At the center of all this autonomous organizing (there was no funding to speak of) was The Alchemical Theatre Acting Company: Mary Krapf, Martin Reckhaus, Jessica Slote, Philip Brehse, Nolan Baer, Elena Jandova, and of course, director Carlo Altomare. They were always determined to secure a space for their own productions and which they could share with other artists in their community. Not only did it make sense in the political/economic atmosphere of that time, but it also afforded them the opportunity to work closely with other artists. The space created the community, and encouraged an active discourse between artists and audience through congenial gatherings after the performances. The Alchemical was a social phenomena, not merely a presenting organization. 


After 7 years of successfully building "Theaterlab" (Alchemical's interrum name) with his previous partner, she and Mr. Altomare decided to work separately in 2012. She retained the Theaterlab name and move to a new location uptown. Mr Altomare then re-established The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory at Theaterlab’s former digs (137 W 14 St) and formed a partnership with Gia Lisa Krahne. 


In the midst of a 22-month long real estate search, Mr Altomare and Miss Krahne closed the doors of that location in October 2013. They designed and built a new location from ground up across the street at 104 W 14 St in August 2014. 

Then in 2022, after surviving and even operating as much as possible throughout the pandemic, the owner of the new space chose to demolish the beautiful iron-cast building. Hence another new location in 2023, just 3 blocks up from the previous two. Once again, this space at 50 W 17 St was designed and drawn up by their own hands, and built-out specifically for your art, collaboration, support, and inspiration. 


It is in this spirit of creative public assembly that they revived the Alchemical name and starting anew once again. 

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