Actor and artistic director Patrick Jordan found a new home for his theater company, Barebones Productions, across from the Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock.
“There’s a cool little footprint in Braddock,” says Jordan who is a big fan of the community. “There’s just something in the air with that town. Either you get it—or you don’t.”
Jordan has been active in Braddock for a long time, volunteering on projects with the Fettermans —Mayor John and his wife, Gisele of Free Store and 412 Food Rescue—and helping with Kevin Sousa’s restaurant project, Superior Motors.
The idea for the space came about when chef Sousa was giving Jordan a tour of his new space, Superior Motors. Jordan saw the unused space in the back of the building adjacent to a courtyard and said, “Hey, that would make a great little theater space.
“We just looked at each other,” says Jordan. “And said ‘Oh, wow. Let’s do this—it’s a great thing.’”
Black Box Theater will be an incubator for Barebones, the theater company he started in 2003 “because I didn’t want Pittsburghers to get skipped by a generation of playwrights.”
Barebones Productions had been using other theater spaces, such as the New Hazlett Theater, for their productions, which Jordan aims to be “challenging, entertaining, thought-provoking plays to attract new young theater audiences by employing minimal production elements.”
Black Box will put on “smaller productions for smaller audiences,” says Jordan. “We want to foster new plays.” Larger shows will likely still be housed at the New Hazlett.
In addition, “There’s the opportunity for an educational component we’ve never had,” he says. “We’ll be able to teach classes for the community in Bradddock. Down the road, we’ll have classes for professional actors and not just acting, but design elements, stage management, how to use the equipment and how to run a show—and we’ll be in our own nice, comfortable space. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Jordan plans to keep the 1,700 square feet flexible so that it can accommodate live music, spoken word poets, film screenings—and events “that are more spur of the moment.”
But first they need to raise the funds, so Jordan’s friends, John and Gisele Fetterman, are hosting a fundraiser at their home on April 18 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The evening will feature food by Kevin Sousa, beer from The Brew Gentlemen, Engine House 25 wines and live music from the Beagle Brothers—a quintessential Braddock event. Tickets are available here.
The 50-60 seat theater, which sits across the street from Edgar Thomson Plant, will open with its first play on May 15.
American Falls, an eight-actor play, will be one of the larger plays that Barebones will put on in this space. Barebones calls it “a modern day Our Town.” The story is based on the lives of eight Idahoans—six living and two dead—whose personal narratives “traverse in and out of each others’ stories.”
On American Falls opening night—and on Fridays and Saturdays during the show’s run, tickets will cost a bit more as Sousa will be cooking up small plates and specialty cocktails will be served. It’s dinner and a show, Braddock style.
If you go to the theater’s first run, don’t expect a finished space—it won’t be 100% done—but a bit of grittiness only adds to the appeal. Show-goers will get to see renderings of the future space. The show runs May 14-31 and tickets can be purchased at barebonesproductions.com.
Things are going well for Patrick Jordan. He was named Pittsburgh’s Performer of the Year by the Post-Gazette in 2014 and was honored by Pittsburgh City Council on February 10, 2015 with Patrick Jordan Day. “It was otherworldly,” he says. “I thought they were joking at first. My mother was very, very proud—and in that respect, it was great.”
Jordan is a Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Pitt. “I love this city—there’s just something about it,” he says. “I lived in New York and L.A.—and I had some opportunities there—but I just really wanted to make it here.”