After months of building anticipation and community speculation, Mountain View's Pear Avenue Theatre has announced the location of its new home. Come fall, the company will be moving to a new theater space located at 1110 La Avenida St., just blocks away from the 1220 Pear Ave. location it has occupied since its launch in 2002.
Along with the change in location comes a change in name: The company will now be known simply as Pear Theatre.
San Jose architect John Duquette is designing the new theater for the existing warehouse building on La Avenida. The new space will seat more than double the previous theater: between 80 and 99 audience members, depending on how the space is arranged. Though still a black box theater, the new space is more than 4,000 square feet: a significant increase from the 1,500-square-foot property the company has occupied for 13 years.
"We're really excited about the opportunity to grow, both in terms of reaching more people and developing more programs," said the Pear's Artistic Director Diane Tasca in a phone interview.
The move was initiated when the landlord of the Pear Avenue space, Google, announced its intention to reclaim the property, along with buildings occupied by numerous other tenants in Mountain View's North Bayshore neighborhood, close to the Computer History Museum. Though not all tenants received relocation assistance from Google, Tasca explained the tech company had worked with the Pear to find a suitable home nearby.
"They have been very helpful," she said.
The ownership of the new space is still in flux, Tasca explained, but described the Pear's lease of the La Avenida location as "relatively long term."
"We feel secure," she said.
Among the improvements Tasca anticipates are the creation of interior walls rather than curtains to separate the theater space from the lobby and office, more flexible risers to allow for easier reconfigurations of the theater space and expanded storage space, including a dedicated scene shop for the creation and storage of sets.
"One big difference for me, partly as an actor, is that we will have a rehearsal space," Tasca added, noting that when the stage was occupied at the Pear, rehearsals often took place at schools or in her own living room. A dedicated rehearsal space located in the same building as the stage will allow the company to begin rehearsals for the next show as soon as the current show moves on to the stage.
Another improvement for actors and audiences: The new theater will include two bathrooms for patrons and a third for actors, making intermission a smoother process.
Moving to a new space will come with challenges as well as benefits. "Once we're in a much larger space, we'll have a lot more seats to fill," Tasca observed, but noted that they've often been hard-pressed to accommodate everyone who wants to see a production in the 40-seat theater.
"We're confident we're going to be providing the kinds of plays people really enjoy seeing," she said.
In addition to keeping the house full and attracting new audiences, Tasca said her goal for the Pear is to "continue improving the work we've been focusing on for the 13 years we've been in existence, which is the creation of really fine, exciting, stimulating theater. We think the new space will help and accelerate that."
The last production to run in the current location is Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia," playing now through July 12. In the new space, the season is scheduled to open Sept. 18 with "Walls of Jericho," a new play by Tasca based on the Samuel Hopkins Adams short story, "Night Bus." Also in the line-up for the 2015/2016 season are Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" and Tracy Letts' searing and humorous family drama, "August: Osage County."
To follow the Pear's news and learn more about the upcoming season, go to thepear.org.