The award-winning Rivendell Theatre Ensemble has announced plans for its first-ever permanent location after 17 years as an itinerant company. The troupe will move into a double storefront at 5779 N. Ridge Avenue (at Glenwood) in the Edgewater neighborhood. The company hopes to open its 2011-2012 season in the new house on Oct. 16, if the construction, inspection and permit process goes smoothly. The play will be Falling: A Wake by Canadian author Gary Kirkhamm, helmed by founding artistic director Tara Mallen.
Rivendell's Ridge Avenue landlord, who owns several buildings and businesses in the neighborhood, has paid for some of the major capital improvements such as a new concrete floor. Off-Loop theater landlords rarely are so generous. This has left Rivendell with modest built-out costs of only $175,000 to shoulder themselves, now speeded along by a $40,000 completion grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The double storefront will feature a flexible theater space seating 45-50, which Rivendell will rent out between its own productions.
Three years ago there were several news reports that Rivendell would open a theater at 5775 N. Ridge, just across the street from the new location, and owned by the same landlord. That never happened, although Mallen says Rivendell has used that smaller space for offices and rehearsals. "I've been squatting there for years," she jokes. She's looking forward to having Rivendell's name on a door at last. After 17 years as an itinerant troupe she says that "people know our shows but don't know it's us." Rivendell will be near neighbors with other Edgewater theater companies such as City Lit Theatre on Bryn Mawr and Raven Theatre on Clark Street at Granville.