The stage has been mainly barren at Theatre 80 St. Mark's in the East Village since the pandemic arrived in New York last year, a stark contrast to the decades of performances here.
Lorcan Otway owns the theatre, founded in the 1960s by his father Howard, an actor writer and producer. Previously, the location had been home to a jazz club.
"My dad trained me in every job in the theatre because he expected that one day I would be running the family business, so whatever else I have been doing in my life, Theatre 80 has been the constant,” said Otway.
The complex is also the home to the Museum of the American Gangster and the William Barnacle Tavern, an outdoor dining set up on St. Mark’s to bring some income in through the pandemic.
"We have people in the rain and the snow and it's been a real asset to what we do here,” said Otway, who says independent theatre is in big trouble due to COVID-19, his longtime family business being no exception.
He is meeting with concerned business people to find lenders to help keep the tradition going.
"Reach out to the community that invests in plays, to invest in keeping this theatre alive and of course if this model works it becomes a model that can help save theatre in New York,” said Otway.
“What Lorcan brings to this community is unique, and that tradition should continue,” said Dennis Creary, board chair of the Negro Ensemble Company, which calls Theatre 80 home.