“One of the things that has been happening, sadly, over the last five or six years, is that the number of small- to mid-size venues has been shrinking, while the demand for them has been increasing. There’s no shortage of interesting performers in Boston, but there’s a desperate need for places where they can perform.”
That’s Scratch, who runs the Boston BeauTease burlesque troupe (formerly the Boston Babydolls). He’s been involved in Greater Boston’s theater scene for the better part of two decades. And after watching the rapid disappearance of small performance spaces, he’s readying to debut a performance complex called The Thalia—a 99-seat theater, rehearsal hall and lounge space located on Green Street in Cambridge—sometime this fall.
“Central Square is becoming a very lively arts district for Cambridge, so it’s a great location,” Scratch says. While he’s been looking for space throughout Greater Boston, he says that Cambridge has been an especially welcoming cultural hub over the course of his career. When this building opened up, it felt like a no-brainer; he’s gotten to know the city well thank to the annual burlesque convention he organizes at the Hyatt Regency on Memorial Drive and a pop-up theater series he hosted in East Cambridge a few years ago.
While Scratch’s background is in burlesque, he says that the program lineup at The Thalia will be similar to what you’ll find at Somerville’s Davis Square Theater—a mix of standup comedy, theatrical productions, live music and more. He plans to do shows that are produced in house and co-produced in collaboration with other local or national companies, and organizations and individuals will also be able to rent out the space to stage their own productions. Really, Scratch says, the events that go down in the space—whether that’s modern dance or improv comedy—will be informed by the wants and needs of the creative community that fills it. “We’re hoping to have an area which creates synergy in the performing arts community,” he says. He’d even like to see people hosting classes and table readings in the rehearsal hall.
“We’re going to do our best to get as many people in there as possible,” he says, “within the bounds of financial realities and good taste.”
Of course, renovating and opening a theater isn’t cheap, which is why Scratch just launched a Kickstarter to help with startup costs. You can also show your support and learn more about The Thalia at the forthcoming theater’s Summer Fun-Raiser, which will feature a talk from Emmy award-winning critic Joyce Kulhawik, music from local singer-songwriter Samantha Farrell and an all-dessert buffet.
“I’m committed to this project,” Scratch laughs, “but I’d rather not have to liquidate my life savings and take out a major loan to get this up and running.”