A space of our own

Theater Ninjas enter their second decade by moving into Detroit Shoreway

Theater Ninjas, the “Food Truck of Cleveland theater,” is putting down roots in the Detroit Shoreway Gordon Square Arts District. A storefront in the historic Courtland Building at West 54th and Detroit Avenue will become the new base of operations for the 11 year old nomadic group, providing space for rehearsals, workshops, front office, and smaller performances. The move marks a big change for the peripatetic Ninjas who have made a name for themselves by creating ‘accessible avant-garde’ theater in a wide variety of venues across the city.

“Having a headquarters is a complete sea change for Theater Ninjas and for the artists with whom we collaborate.,” says Artistic Director Jeremy Paul. “We’ve spent the last ten years as nomads, basically operating the company out of a messenger bag. A home base will make creation of new work much easier. We will continue to seek out interesting sites for larger productions, but now we will have an identifiable location for many of our activities. ”

Since 2006, Theater Ninjas has created immersive encounters that transform the way its audiences experience the world. Combining diverse genres, disciplines, and media, the Company explores new forms of performance and collaboration. The majority of Theater Ninjas work is original, devised and site-specific that require significant research, planning and incremental development. The new headquarters will become a hub for Theater Ninjas activities including rehearsals, performances, classes in movement and devised theater creation, audio and video recording, and Company administration including box office.

The Company has a long history of performing in the Gordon Square Arts District, at 78th Street Studios, Guide2Kulchur and the Near West Side Lofts storefront (now Old City Soda and FOUNT). and through co-productions at Cleveland Public Theatre. Last Fall they produced The Last Day, an explorable immersive storytelling experience that borrowed from video and ‘escape the room’ games, in the Gordon Square Arcade.

Theater Ninjas is led by Jeremy Paul and an interdisciplinary team of creative producers called the Cadre, comprised of Lauren Joy Fraley, Eric M. C. Gonzalez, and Christopher Hisey. The Company began the search for a more permanent base of operations last summer.

“Gordon Square is a natural fit for the kind of work we do, which blurs the line between theater and other art forms. We’re excited to join Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre, Talespinner Children’s Theatre, and Blank Canvas in contributing to the remarkable revival along Detroit Ave.”

After partnering with Detroit Shore Community Development Organization to find venues for past shows Tall Skinny Cruel Cruel Boys and The Last Day, the Company identified a suitable storefront at 5403 Detroit in the Courtland Building, and will join existing tenants City Breaks Studio, The Black Market, and Zekes Barbershop.

“We are thrilled to welcome storefront theater to Gordon Square,” said Adam Rosen, Economic Development Director at DSCDO. “With all the development happening at the eastern edge of Gordon Square, Theater Ninja’s innovative brand of performing arts only adds to the excitement and liveliness of Detroit Avenue.”

Theater Ninjas inaugurates the space March 18-19 with a two-night show called Positive Reinforcements, a showcase of short-form performance that features new and developing material from local artists. In July, the company will unveil Don't Wander Off, an interactive storytelling encounter that uses audience decisions, high tech wizardry, science fiction icons, and game mechanics to tell dynamic stories about a deep space expedition in a distant galaxy.

Operations in the new location are being funded in part by a grant from the George Gund Foundation and contributions from Theater Ninjas Board members and supporters.

“Having a headquarters is a complete sea change for Theater Ninjas and for the artists with whom we collaborate.,” says Artistic Director Jeremy Paul. “We’ve spent the last ten years as nomads, basically operating the company out of a messenger bag. A home base will make creation of new work much easier. We will continue to seek out interesting sites for larger productions, but now we will have an identifiable location for many of our activities. ”

Since 2006, Theater Ninjas has created immersive encounters that transform the way its audiences experience the world. Combining diverse genres, disciplines, and media, the Company explores new forms of performance and collaboration. The majority of Theater Ninjas work is original, devised and site-specific that require significant research, planning and incremental development. The new headquarters will become a hub for Theater Ninjas activities including rehearsals, performances, classes in movement and devised theater creation, audio and video recording, and Company administration including box office.

The Company has a long history of performing in the Gordon Square Arts District, at 78th Street Studios, Guide2Kulchur and the Near West Side Lofts storefront (now Old City Soda and FOUNT). and through co-productions at Cleveland Public Theatre.  Last Fall they produced The Last Day, an explorable immersive storytelling experience that borrowed from video and ‘escape the room’ games, in the Gordon Square Arcade.

Theater Ninjas is led by Jeremy Paul and an interdisciplinary team of creative producers called the Cadre, comprised of Lauren Joy Fraley, Eric M. C. Gonzalez, and Christopher Hisey. The Company began the search for a more permanent base of operations last summer.  Paul said,  “Gordon Square is a natural fit for the kind of work we do, which blurs the line between theater and other art forms. We’re excited to join Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre, Talespinner Children’s Theatre, and Blank Canvas in contributing to the remarkable revival along Detroit Ave.”

After partnering with Detroit Shore Community Development Organization to find venues for past shows Tall Skinny Cruel Cruel Boys and The Last Day, the Company identified a suitable storefront at 5403 Detroit in the Courtland Building, and will join existing tenants City Breaks Studio, The Black Market, and Zekes Barbershop.

“We are thrilled to welcome storefront theater to Gordon Square,” said Adam Rosen, Economic Development Director at DSCDO. “With all the development happening at the eastern edge of Gordon Square, Theater Ninja’s innovative brand of performing arts only adds to the excitement and liveliness of Detroit Avenue.”

Theater Ninjas inaugurates the new headquarters on March 18 with an informal open house to showcase renovation plans and solicit feedback on the design. In July, the company will unveil Don't Wander Off, an interactive storytelling encounter that uses audience decisions, high tech wizardry, science fiction icons, and game mechanics to tell dynamic stories about a deep space expedition in a distant galaxy.

Operations in the new location are being funded in part by a grant from the George Gund Foundation and contributions from Theater Ninjas Board members and supporters.