Volume 17 • Issue 9 / July 23 - 29, 2004

Unconscious theater group moving to Tribeca

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

Performance artist Reverend Jen, and the rest of Collective: Unconscious are moving from the Lower East Side to 279 Church St., formerly the Rubber Monkey club.

After nine years on the Lower East Side, Collective: Unconscious, the Manhattan theater group responsible for such shows as “Miss Murphy’s Theater of Excess” and “Reverend Jen’s Anti-Slam,” will soon double its performance space with a move from its Ludlow St. location to a former Tribeca bar.

Since the mid-’90s, Collective has produced dozens of performances at 145 Ludlow St. But neighborhood gentrification and increasing real estate prices have taken their toll on the group — in 1996 members paid $1,700 in rent; last year they paid $4,500, said Collective member Patrick Daniels. By the end of July the Collective will have moved out of the Ludlow location and hope to move into the new space at 279 Church St., formerly occupied by the Rubber Monkey bar-club.

“This is actually a very great opportunity for Collective: Unconscious,” Daniels said. “I’m sort of glad to get off of Ludlow. Dealing with the unpleasantness of rapid gentrification is difficult — I watched the street go from dark and quiet and local to bridge and tunnel in the course of five years.”

The group is currently awaiting a Fire Department building inspection and barring any major problems hopes to hold performances in the space prior to its renovation. Members would like shows to begin again by early August.

“Right now the space is pretty raw,” said Reverend Jen, whose “Anti-Slam” open-mike performance is the Collective’s longest running show. “Hopefully, by the end of August it should be looking good, but before that we’re going to do shows there even though it won’t be pristine.”

Collective: Unconscious’ old performance space could accommodate anywhere from 50-60 audience members; once renovated, the new space will be able to seat 80-90 patrons, Daniels said.

Fourteen performers, producers, sculptors and managers currently comprise Collective: Unconscious, which was founded in early 1995. The group rents out theater, rehearsal and gallery space to members of the artistic community and supports Collective members’ personal artistic work.

“Reverend Jen’s Anti-Slam” performance and admission price will remain the same in the new space. “The show isn’t going to change at all,” she said. “We’re just in a new neighborhood.”

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