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Theater Group Builds for the Future

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Stephanie Cohen waited patiently as the campers in the Little Village Playhouse finished the theatrical performance, “How to Eat Like a Child,” at the Chappaqua Library Theater Saturday afternoon.

The play was the culmination of the work the campers put in during the Little Village Playhouse’s summer workshop. Another play, "Sleep Away," was performed earlier in the day. A large audience of parents, family members and friends looked on as the children performed.

But another reality also hit. The library closed at 5 p.m. and while Cohen, who serves as the artistic director for the Little Village Playhouse, said she was thankful for the opportunity that the library had given her group, she was also faced with the prospect of making sure the set was disassembled before the library closed its doors.

“I’ll be happy when we finally have a space to move into,” she said.

The Little Village Playhouse, a nonprofit group in Pleasantville that holds camps and classes aimed at immersing children in the world of theater, and the Chappaqua Drama Group, have plans to build a new theater and offices at warehouse located at 220 Tomkins Avenue in Pleasantville called Arc Stages.

The company will have three arms. The Mainstage, provide community theater groups a venue to perform classic musicals and dramas, while the Spark will be a place groups can get together to perform newer, edgier material. The Little Village Playhouse will continue with its current mission.

Currently, the group must reserve space as needed at the Irvington Town Hall Theater, The Chappaqua Library and the Armonk Library.

“What we want to do is to stop being nomads and be the place that other people use, because we have the facilities,” she said.

The Little Village Playhouse and the Chappaqua Drama Group merged in 2009 as way to pool each group’s resources. But as the group’s ambitions have increased, so has its need for space.

Adam Cohen, the executive director of Little Village Playhouse and Stephanie’s husband, said he’s hopeful that the group will get site plan approval from the Pleasantville Village Board in September. The group is also still in the process of raising money.

“The goal is to raise $1 million,” he said. “But we’re doing it in phases. The first phase is to raise $250,000 to $300,000. That will get us in the building.”

The rest of the money would be used to improvements to the theater space that will be created in the new space and the rest of the building.

Cohen said the group began it’s fundraising campaign a few months ago, but hired a director of development about a week ago. Cohen said the group is willing to sell naming rights to the new facility to corportions or individuals.

“We feel the new theater arts center can do for theater what the Jacob Burns Center had done for media arts,” Cohen said.

Anyone interested in making a donation can e-mail Adam Cohen at Adam@arcstages.org .

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