World’s smallest theater opens in NY

An audience member steps out of the ‘Theatre for One’ performance space in New York’s Times Square.

An audience member steps out of the ‘Theatre for One’ performance space in New York’s Times Square.

Many theater owners like to say they offer an intimate show but only one really means it. That would be Theatre for One — a 4-foot-by-8 foot portable theater that allows one audience member at a time to see one short play performed by a single actor.

“There’s definitely an immediacy that happens within this,” said Tony-winning scenic designer Christine Jones, who conceived and leads the project. “The theater acts as a kind of portal into a human being.”

The theater will be parked in three Manhattan locations for the next two months, offering shows for free. Which play the audience sees is largely the luck of the draw, adding to this unique theatrical event. Each lucky audience member slips into a section of the theater and waits until a partition rises, revealing a performer who then begins his or her short piece.

This year, new plays were commissioned from Craig Lucas, Will Eno, Lynn Nottage, Jose Rivera, Thomas Bradshaw, Zayd Dohrn and Emily Schwend.

They were asked to write 3-minute pieces that used this phrase as a jumping-off point: “I’m not the stranger you think I am.” The works range in theme from a serial killer preying on black men to the death of a mother.

The actors will be Andrew Garman, Erin Gann, Carmen Zilles, Keith Randolph Smith, Marisol Miranda and Kevin Mambo, an actor and musician who starred in “Fela” on Broadway.

Mambo, who will be performing Dohrn’s play “Love Song,” added his own music and will play an electric guitar in the booth. He’s played audiences of 5,000 so the stripped-down nature of the new show is a challenge.

“There’s no need for theatrical accouterment. There’s no need for projection. There’s no need for any of those things,” he said. “I need to just engage with someone and tell them a story.”


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