by Chelsea Wilson, Treasurer, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre
The Acrosstown’s new location, Suite O of the Creekside Mall, is on the southwest corner of West 34th Street and University Ave.
Surrounded by restaurants and shopping, the Board of Directors is excited to bring a new energy to this location in the heart of west Gainesville. The space, formerly a yoga studio, was converted into a 50-seat theater by a team of volunteers in just two months’ time.
The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART) is Gainesville’s only remaining independent black box theatre. The unique space allows for intimate performances and a special theatre experience.
Founded in 1980, the ART develops new talent, plays, audiences and ideas while also celebrating and revivifying the great plays of the past.
The 2023–2024 season continues this tradition by providing the community with a wide variety of plays and musicals. The upcoming production of Sweeney Todd is a challenging and radical musical that encourages viewers to question the meaning of justice.
Twelfth Night plays on contemporary issues of cross-dressing and classism within a timeless Shakespearean text, and Little Women is a new adaptation of a classic novel from a young female playwright and will be a regional premiere.
The ART will also continue the successful Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights’ Festival, which develops new plays by local writers that have gone on to be professionally produced across the country.
“We worked hard to make sure the Acrosstown wouldn’t become a victim of the double whammy that was the pandemic and rising operating costs. It’s more important now than ever that our community has access to art and other forms of expression,” says board member Jennifer Hutton.
Forced to close its physical location in late 2022, the ART operated as a nomadic troupe while searching for a new venue. The ART partnered with the City of Gainesville to produce Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Rehearsed at public parks, this show provided free and accessible performances at the Historic Thomas Center and Bo Diddley Plaza. This zero-budget production drew in hundreds of viewers of all ages and featured incredible local talent.
For 43 years, the ART has provided a safe place where people of all ages, genders, races, socio-economic backgrounds, and beliefs can participate in the performing arts.
The first show in the new space, No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre, opened just a year after the last show closed at the old location. Previously performed in 2018, this show helped bridge the gap between old and new and brought in an audience of nearly 250 excited viewers.
The ART is a non-profit, volunteer-run community theater, and relies heavily on a seasonal gala fundraiser to support the season productions. The new location represents both an exciting new chapter for the ART and a 40 percent increase in operating costs. This year, the gala will be held on Saturday, September 9; this event will showcase the upcoming shows for the season, and fundraise through a silent auction of local goods and services.
“The outpouring of community support for this event has been nothing short of incredible,” said Chelsea Wilson, ART treasurer. “We have received donations worth more than $9,000 of art, jewelry, and certificates for experiences all around Gainesville for our patrons to bid on at the gala.”
Both professional and amateur artists have honed their craft at the ART and seen their visions realized. The ART provides a safe place where people of all ages, genders, races, socio-economic backgrounds and beliefs can create unsafe theatre — theatre that transforms.
The full season and show dates can be found on http://www.acrosstown.org/ or call the box office at 352-BE IN ART (352-234-6278).