Torn Space Completes Phase II of Capital Improvements

Empire State Development (ESD) announced the completion of Torn Space Theater’s (TST) $1.2 million interior and exterior renovation project. The theater, located on Buffalo’s East Side, now has an expanded and upgraded performance space that is integrated with reclaimed green space surrounding the newly restored building at 608 Fillmore Avenue, creating a beautiful, walkable campus that invites community engagement. ESD and TST will host a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 23 at 6:45 PM in the upgraded theater space at 612 Fillmore Ave.

“This project isn’t just an investment in Torn Space Theater, it’s an investment in the entire surrounding community, creating an enticing environment to attract new visitors to the neighborhood while also showcasing the rich history of Buffalo’s East Side,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler.  “We applaud the theater’s staff and volunteers for completing a project that will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.”

“Torn Space Theater is committed to the long-term viability of the historic Broadway/Fillmore neighborhood,” said Dan Shanahan, Torn Space Theater Founder and Artistic Director.  “The completion of this phase of construction ensures that we will be able to produce and present the very best in contemporary performance, host artistic residencies and continue to facilitate meaningful conversations with local and international artists. Torn Space, along with the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle look forward to providing a space where the community can engage with thought provoking performance, lectures and literature while enjoying the authentic Polonia tavern.”

Torn Space Theater – in partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle – is undertaking a phased initiative to create a campus setting geared for community engagement that compleiments and supports recent neighborhood revitalization efforts, and encourages future investments in Broadway-Fillmore. The expansion and site improvements revitalize not only the theater but also a section of Fillmore Avenue that provides a strategic link to established East Side landmarks—such as the Broadway Market, St. Stanislaus Church and Central Terminal—and emerging ones, including urban farms, the renovation of the former Schreiber Brewery, and a Buddhist cultural center. The site is also on a major north/south transit corridor connecting Larkinville with the Broadway/Fillmore commercial district.

The latest phase of the renovation project, titled Hidden Identities, designed by architectural firm Studio North, integrates performance space with the outdoor grounds surrounding the newly restored Light Station design and production studio adjacent to the theater at 612 Fillmore Avenue. The project increases capacity and volume of the interior performance space and transforms it into a multi-use, state-of-the-art performance facility while restoring the exterior of the historic Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle. 

Through ESD, Torn Space Theater applied for and was awarded $748,000 from the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund. As part of Buffalo Billion Phase II placemaking strategy, $65 million has been dedicated  by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to revitalization efforts on the city’s East Side through investments in stabilizing neighborhoods and ensuring opportunities for homeownership; strengthening commercial corridors by promoting mixed use, walkable districts; improving regionally significant historical and natural assets; expanding opportunities for workforce connections; and supporting and growing entrepreneurship.

Light Station was opened in November 2017 and includes dressing rooms, a conference area, a green room and set construction and load-in space. Architect Christopher Romano and his firm Studio North won two American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards for the transformational repurposing of the former gas mart into a stunning architectural centerpiece for Torn Space. 

Torn Space founders, Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola, create original, aesthetically innovative performances; introduce internationally renowned, contemporary performance to Western New York; and cultivate the collaboration of actors, composers, sculptors, video artists and designers within their productions. Drawing from the leading edge of the global avant-garde, TST offers both original drama and new interpretations of existing plays. Using vivid imagery that both entertains and challenges the audience’s theatrical expectations, TST fully incorporates other arts disciplines—e.g., media, music, and the visual arts—into its design aesthetic.