Performers from Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’s “Hamlet”, including Gracie Winchester as Ophelia and Jane Bradley as a female Hamlet (Photo posted on Instagram by Gracie Winchester)
Shakespearean tragedies don’t typically see a peaceful resolution, but it looks like there’ll be a happy ending for a drama that unfolded center stage at a Community Board 3 meeting last month.
There, Hamilton Clancy, artistic director of the non-profit that runs Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, bemoaned the potential loss of their performance space at the parking lot managed by the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. His efforts to find a second home for the theater company in Sara D. Roosevelt Park had been met with bureaucratic red tape. All hope seemed to be lost.
“It’s not so good, huh?” laughs Kathleen Webster, president of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition as she refers to the D- grade that the park received from New Yorkers for Parks. The near-failing grade was issued last year by the nonprofit whose research and policy recommendations help in advocating for more equitably distributed, sustainable and well-maintained parks in the city.
On the northern side of Sara D. Roosevelt Park sits a large brick structure. Once a youth center, the Stanton Building was shut down during a time of high crime in the Lower East Side and is now used only for storage by the Parks Department. Since the late ’90s, there’s been talk of returning it to community use, but that has yet to happen. So, Wednesday afternoon, a group of local activists gathered outside of the building in what was the first of three events intended to stimulate collective planning about its future.