2003-04-05 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
A Historical View Of Broad Channel –1912
Rockaway Theatre Company Enters Sixth Season


Historical Views presents to­day the graduation class of St. Virgil­ius School, Broad Channel, in 1942. Unfortunately, we have no names to go along with this photo. There are 16 girls and 14 boys in the class. Hey there over in Broad Channel! Who are they?Historical Views presents to­day the graduation class of St. Virgil­ius School, Broad Channel, in 1942. Unfortunately, we have no names to go along with this photo. There are 16 girls and 14 boys in the class. Hey there over in Broad Channel! Who are they?

The Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) is currently entering their sixth season of quality live theatre at the Post Theatre.

When RTC was founded in 1997, they performed several plays at the Park Place Seaport Theatre on Beach 116 Street in Rockaway Beach.

When Park Place Seaport Theatre closed suddenly in September of 1997, members of the group approached the administrators at Fort Tilden for use of a room with a stage.

They agreed and the theatre group performed their first play at Fort Tilden on Halloween Day, 1997. Building T-149 was used. It’s a room rented for receptions and parties, which had a raised stage.

After that first play, RTC began work on cleaning the Post Theatre (building T-4). This was once an Army movie theatre and it was long unused.

RTC signed a memorandum of understanding with Gateway National Recreation Area. This gave RTC permission to perform live theatre there in exchange for restoring and renovating the building.

Renovation involved the removal of the first row of seats, extending the movie theatre stage, cleaning and refurbishing the dressing room, installing makeshift theatrical lighting, opening up the projection booth, and repairing and cleaning all two hundred and eighty-four seats.

All of this was done before their first full season, which began in June 1998. There was no working bathroom or running water in the building, so their audiences for the first two seasons suffered some inconvenience. Portable toilets were available across the road from the theatre.

The audiences, cast and crew have grown along with RTC. The season runs from the first weekend in June through Halloween Day, since they do not have heat in the building yet.

However, the theatre can boast two working indoor bathrooms (costing $8,000), updated lighting, a new sound board, and many new electrical lines. The roof has been patched, and several doors and windows have been replaced.

All of the work has been paid for with money from ticket sales and fund raising efforts. Volunteers have provided labor. RTC has poured all of their earnings back into the building in order to create a more professional atmosphere in which to perform, a benefit to both actors and audiences.

The long-term goal is to create a year-round theatrical season in a heated and air-conditioned Post Theatre with state-of-the-art lighting and sound.


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