Theater begins new era in Carnegie with 'The Other Place'
Virginia Wall Gruenert laughs and swears it's just a coincidence, discussing the title of Off the Wall theater's upcoming play.
After all, the show is called “The Other Place.” Carnegie is simply the new place.
“I had to have somebody point that out to me,” said Gruenert, the company's artistic director. “I did not do that on purpose, because I chose this play long before we decided to move.”
No matter the name on the program, when the lights come on Friday night inside the 96-seat venue along West Main Street, it will mark a new era for the provocative theater and add yet another piece to Carnegie's growing arts scene.
Wishing to be closer to the bulk of their supporters and actors, Gruenert and her husband, managing director Hans Gruenert, moved their five-year-old theater from Washington this spring.
“We have a very hardcore group of loyal patrons from Washington. It's a small group, but they're there,” Gruenert said.
“The larger percentage is from Pittsburgh and understands that theater is supposed to educate and enlighten and open people's eyes. That's what we try to do.”
An empty office space previously occupied by WorkWell Inc., was the right size and location for Off the Wall's new start. And the community is getting just as much value from the recently finished $150,000 facility.
“We're not just a theater; we're a performing arts center,” Gruenert said. “We've already made our space available to rent to other companies that don't have a home . . . dance companies, we have a comedian coming in one night, musicians.
“We're a 365-day theater.”
One that's rare around these parts.
The name Off the Wall is more than just a play on Gruenert's maiden name. It speaks to the mature, often-risqué themes the small company often highlights.
“My choices are dangerous, actually,” she said. “I choose plays that have something to say, that are relevant, that are theatrical, exciting, interesting, thought-provoking, that hit you over the head sometimes. ... That's not to say we don't do comedies, but even the comedies I choose are edgy.”
“The Other Place,” which begins a 10-show run at 8 p.m. Friday through Oct. 27, fits the bill as an Off the Wall production. The drama explores the fragility of the mind and reality, featuring a scientist-turned-businesswoman's disorienting descent into dementia.
“This is a play that speaks to us in our time and in an important way,” said Mark Conway Thompson, who plays the main character's husband, Ian.
A Pittsburgh resident who teaches drama at Duquesne, he's happy to see Off the Way closer to home. He said others are, too.
“I had been to plays but not had the occasion to work with the company,” Thompson said. “The buzz from actors who have been here before is, ‘That's a place where you want to work. They know how to host a production.
“Everyone in the theater community has high hopes that this theater will be well attended because of its proximity to the city.”
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-388-5816.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.