There’s a big hole at Bedlam Theatre where the Fireplace Lounge used to be. At 4:30 last Tuesday afternoon, Bedlam’s technical director Brandon Levy was setting up for the Metro Blooms Happy Hour Raingarden Workshop when he felt the tiles start to crack. The floor dropped a couple of inches, but luckily no one was hurt. Bedlam staff members shut down the lounge to the public and began investigating the problem, according to Bedlam’s executive artistic director John Bueche.
It turns out there was a 6’x6′ area that had been compromised because of a pipe that had sprung a leak. Fortunately, the leak had been contained to just the lounge, which is located in the back of the building, but as a result the water had created significant damage to the 100-year-old floor.
After consulting with their landlord and several contractors, engineers and architects, Bedlam began working on a game plan. Since they lease the building, they hope to fix as much of the problem themselves as they can in exchange for rent, according to Bueche. The theater is currently on an ongoing lease with a 60-day notice.
On Thursday and Friday of last week, a crew that included 30 volunteers—including three Somali youth from the Cedar Riverside Art Zone for Youth, a program that is a collaborative effort among several West Bank organizations—put in 200 hours excavating the floor. Bueche said that he hopes to have a construction plan ready by Friday. In the meantime, they’ve started a Fill the Hole campaign on GiveMN and are trying to raise $7,500 for the repairs. In addition, DJ Shannon Blowtorch and organizers from the popular monthly event BOMP plan on holding a fundraiser at Hell’s Kitchen (details are still being determined).
Meanwhile, programming at Bedlam continues. Though the kitchen stopped serving everything but cold sandwiches for a week, they re-opened for full dinner operations on May 12. Though a couple of events were cancelled, much of the programming simply adjusted to the new predicament. The Fireplace stage has been moved to the lobby, and Fireplace Lounge scenes from The Happy Show, the play now showing at Bedlam, were moved to other locations within the building.
Bedlam has also set up a window looking into the Fireplace Lounge so that visitors can view the hole.