August 03, 2012 by Kendra Dobson
Philadelphia’s theater community is known as one of the most diverse in the United States. A handful of these theater communities make up the alliance Off-Broadstreet.
“I think Philadelphia’s theater community is extraordinary,” Kevin Glaccum, producing artistic director of Azuka Theatre and founder of Off-Broadstreet, said.
There are now over 50 professional theater companies in Philadelphia.
“I think that there is a level of variety that you can’t find almost anywhere in the country,” Glaccum said.
Glaccum adds that the quality of the work that comes from Philadelphia is also high.
“We often hear things like, ‘When are you taking this show to New York?’ ‘When is this going to New York?’ It’s like, you don’t understand that this is great work and it’s made for you,” he said.
“These people all live here for the most part, and they’re making their careers here. And there is a mindset that quality theater equals New York. And that’s something that we’re trying to get people to rethink,” Glaccum said.
Off-Broadstreet is a group of quality theater companies who are in Philadelphia. It is theater made for Philadelphians, by Philadelphians.
The six theater companies that make up Off-Broadstreet are Azuka Theatre, Inis Nuua, Brat Productions, 11th Hour Theatre Co., Mauckingbird Theatre Co. and EgoPo Classic Theatre.
“I’m not sure what ‘diverse’ means in regards to a theater,” Rachel O’Hanlon Rodriguez, company manager of EgoPo, said. “We are unique in terms of other companies in Philadelphia. We perform classic avant-garde work and thus fill a specific and clear niche in the city that is very differentiated from the artistic missions of the other organization in Off-Broad.”
“All of the stuff that we do is kind of like a Venn diagram; it kind of all intersects at one point, but it’s also quite different,” Glaccum said. “Azuka Theatre’s mission is to give voice to the people whose stories go unheard. We do stories about people a little on the fringes of society. Inis Nua does Celtic Theater. They do English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish plays. 11th Hour does musicals. Mauckingbird does gay and lesbian theater.”
Smaller theater companies are unable to join Off-Broadstreet.
“The consortium was formed through the informal guidance of the Theater Alliance,” O’Hanlon Rodriguez said. “They brought a group of us together, and we started forming a mission. We were one of founding members of the consortium.”
“It’s a group that came together, and it certainly may expand, but at this point we’re comfortable with the number that we have,” Glaccum said. “We’re tying to market ourselves so we feel that the more theaters involved, the less impact we may have. It might just start to muddy the waters a little bit.”
Glaccum says that audiences of Off-Broadstreet can expect to be surprised by something that they wouldn’t normally see in mainstream houses.
“What Off-Broadstreet does, you’re not going to see at the Walnut Street Theatre or the Arden Theatre. We’re a little bit off the beaten path,” he said.
For tickets to any diverse show in Philadelphia, Glaccum says that the place to look is on the Theater Alliance website, though recently the Theater Alliance announced its closing. Another place to check for tickets to shows in Off-Broadstreet is to visit the theaters’ respective websites.