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Theater Schmeater hopes to kickstart their move

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Theater Schmeater is on the move and they’ve launched an ambitious $20,000 Kickstarter campaign to help cover the costs this month.

After running for more than two decades on Capitol Hill, the company that brought live renditions of Twilight Zone, episodic drama by Wayne Rawlings, and a host of premieres into their basement space is shifting to Seattle's fast growing Belltown neighborhood.

While the Belltown space will be brand, spanking new, Theater Schmeater plans to provide the type of theater that made them a neighborhood favorite in the old space, including a new play by Rawling inspired by 1950s science fiction, Attack of the Killer Murder of… Death, and more live productions of the works of Rod Serling.

Although the move already is underway and the group is committed to getting out of the basement, the "Shelter the Schmee" Kickstarter campaign aims to demonstrate public support for the move to potential private, corporate and civic donors as well as give the company some much needed cash. The campaign ends Dec. 29.

Earlier this fall, managing director Roger Huston discussed why they are shifting down the hill to 2125 Third Avenue.

When will Theater Schmeater be up and running at the new space?
Our hope is that we will be able to mount the first show in the second quarter of 2014.

How many years was Theater Schmeater in the basement on Summit Ave?
Theater Schmeater was founded in 1992, and our cozy Capitol Hill basement home is the only one we have ever known.

Schmee's basement space had a few challenges, notably the pillars right in middle of the stage area, that often ended up being incorporated into the set. What were some of the benefits of being in the basement?
The pillars couldn’t be ignored, so they were incorporated into the set by necessity. Sometimes as more of an “active” player than others. Our location on Capitol Hill, though, was one of the theater’s advantages. Much of our audience walked to the theater and attended regularly. In addition, we had a wonderful working relationship with our landlord over the years.

So what will be some of the benefits of the move?
First, there’s getting rid of those pillars. Although some of our loyal audience thinks we need to build them into our new home – so that it will remain The Schmee – we think we’re going to avoid that. The new home will also provide more height, making lighting a show a little less challenging than it has been in the basement.

What prompted Theater Schmeater's decision to move off Capitol Hill?
The building in which we have been housed for twenty-one years was sold at the beginning of 2013. It is being returned to its original glory and repurposed. As part of those changes, a restaurant will move into the floor directly above us. The “original glory” of 1916 did not include soundproofing, and it is impossible to retrofit at this point, particularly with the already-low ceiling. As a result, continued use of our space for theater productions will become impractical.

Do you think your audience will follow you to Belltown -- or are they already there?
Our new location is not that far from our Capitol Hill home. Those who walk to the theater will have to walk a little farther, or take a bus. Public transportation to our new home on Third Ave is good. We hope that many of our current audience will follow us, but it is likely that some may not. Belltown is, itself, changing, though. The resident population has grown and is continuing to do so. We hope to add some of these residents to our loyal followers to create a new Schmeater family.

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