An Empty Pantry Playhouse

Eatery remains open

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WHEN the curtains came down on David Tulloch's For My Daughter last Sunday, it marked the final production at the Pantry Playhouse in New Kingston.

The 14-year-old theatre closed its doors as what proprietor Karl Hart describes as a "long and hard look" at operations of the centrally located venue.

"It is a decision that I wish I didn't have to make," Hart told the Jamaica Observer. "I have been watching how the theatre business and general economy have been going over the past two years and have realised that if it doesn't improve then I will just have to close the doors."

While noting that theatres globally are suffering, Hart said most producers of plays go into the business unaware of the market's demands.

"Many of the producers have really good material, but are unaware of the financial obligations that are required to keep that production on stage for the required time. You need a minimum of a million dollars just to get a production off the ground," he explained. "This includes renting space, creating sets, etc."

Hart says he used his catering business to subsidise the Pantry.

"Even though we were just in the business of renting the theatre space that comes with its attendant cost, there is lighting, security, electricity and water bills, and staff to think about. So when a producer is forced to shorten the run of a production due to poor patronage I am left with an empty house which cannot be rented as the time is usually too short to move in another production," said Hart. "I really wish I didn't have to close the theatre because I truly love the arts... I really regret having to make that decision, but it was affecting me financially."

A certified chef, with 43 years experience in catering, Hart plans to convert the playhouse into a banquet hall to host events including weddings and seminars.




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