Thanks to Greenbergs, Oldcastle is Moving to Main Street LocationApril 16, 2012
BENNINGTON - Weeks of speculation in the community, and months of work by Oldcastle Theater Company leadership, ended Sunday when the theater company announced that it would be moving downtown and occupy the former Knights of Columbus building at 331 Main St.
The move - forced by the 40-year-old theater company being asked to leave its longtime home at the Bennington Center for the Arts last summer - is considered a big step in the continued revitalization of the downtown area. It is also, apparently, the result of a donation of the building by the Greenberg family.
"This is great news for Oldcastle, our downtown district, Bennington and our surrounding communities," Joseph Krawczyk town Select Board chairman, said in an Oldcastle statement emailed Sunday. "Once again the Greenberg family has stepped up to make a positive difference in the quality of life of all of us who call Bennington home. I thank the Greenberg family for their actions that will insure that the Oldcastle Theatre Company remains in Bennington. I would also like to thank Oldcastle's donors, staff and board for all their efforts in making this great move and event happen."
The exact details of the Greenberg donation, and town involvement, were unavailable on Sunday.
Oldcastle will begin immediately to move in the building, located just west of Four Corners and abutting the Greenberg's home center.
"The next few weeks will be busy ones as we move into our new home and hope to announce our summer and fall seasons in May," Eric Peterson, Oldcastle producing artistic director, said in the statement.
"We are excited that this begins what we expect will be a long residency in the very heart of our community. Being downtown has been a long-time dream for us."
Peterson said Oldcastle will use its new home to offer a range of programs for youth, seniors, amateur actors and playwrights. The building will also be the base for Oldcastle's Actors' Express, a touring company that visits schools with interactive programs that are relevant to children and educators.
"We plan on having professional productions, holiday shows, musical performances, classes for all ages, and other educational activities and to share our space with the community," Peterson said. "We are already talking with other performing organizations about residencies at our new theatre."
Charles Putney, president of Oldcastle's Board of Trustees, said that the move into a new home downtown is the first step in a series of actions by the theater.
"This is a work in progress. We need to renovate the building, get our season up and going, let folks know about Flex Passes, sign up volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, get our new community education programs underway, and launch a capital campaign to pay for renovations," Putney said in the statement. "We have already received several significant commitments towards the transformation of the historic Knights of Columbus building into a theatre center for Bennington."
According to Putney, Oldcastle's new home includes offices, a large basement for use as a scene shop, dressing rooms and storage, and a main floor with a lobby and large open space for the theatre. He said the theater area could have several configurations, with seating up to about 150 - "Which is, we think, an ideal size for this community," Putney said.
The road taken by Oldcastle from being asked to leave the BCA to arrival at the downtown Bennington location was a difficult, but ultimately rewarding process, Peterson said.
"We were wooed by other communities and had serious talks with one location in the Berkshires, but it was always our strong desire to remain in Bennington and particularly to be downtown," he said. "The interest among community members has been intense... I haven't been able to go anywhere without people asking where we will be. Oldcastle's survival was in question for awhile but our trustees and the community worked hard to insure that the company continues and grows... (and) we are extremely grateful to the Greenberg family for providing us with a new home."
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