Wednesday, July 13, 2005

RAPP, RAPP, RAPP, they called it the RAPP, uh...

RAPP ARTS CENTER, 220 E. 4th Street b/w Avenues A & B. Many years ago I read a Village Voice article about this short-lived (late '80s to early '90s) institution--but I didn't save it for "the archives," and as such the fine details are lost to me. AFAIK, the RAPP (lord knows what the acronym stood for) was a multidisciplinary arts center, featuring avant-garde theater/performance art, dance, music, and visual arts. In addition to performance and gallery spaces, it also offered some living and studio quarters for artists--a college friend of mine knew a young writer who actually lived on the premises. The Center's 19th-century building had formerly been a Catholic school (all-boys IIRC), and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York still owned it--which caused some problems when the Church disapproved of the RAPP's presentations (either that, or they were just frustrated over non-payment of rent).

From time to time the RAPP would host rock shows. This current photo of the building's restored theater space looks a lot like how I remember it, but of course my memories may be faulty. Truth be told I can only recall being there twice--for a Redd Kross/Pussywillows/Embarrassment show, and for a big ska night featuring the Toasters, both in late '89. The only other rock references I've found online are to a Gwar/Mudhoney bill in November of 1988, and for a hardcore show at an unspecified date--but I'm sure there were others.

The building still stands and is now home to the Cornelia Connelly Center, a learning facility for girls from local low-income households. When not used for school productions, the auditorium space is rented out to various theater and dance companies, including the Metropolitan Playhouse.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It stood for Redeemer Arts Performance Project. (The building was formerly the Most Holy Redeemer School) I had a dance/performance studion there...

irene said...

I performed there with Poppo and the Go-go Boys! (A kind of punkish butoh troupe). Was wondering what happened to it. Thanks for your blog musings :)

Lemmy said...

I saw the Meat Puppets w/Eleventh Dream Day there in '89/'90 (the Pups were touring the Monsters LP).

Jeff Cohen said...

Thanks for your memories. I created and was Artistic Director ion the RAPP Arts Center. It was formerly the Holy Redeemer School and the acronym was Redeemer Arts Performance Project. in its day it saw some pretty amazing and seminal performances. Butoh was represented by the incredible Poppo and the Go Go Boys and Eiko and Koma. The Bang On A Can New Music Festival was resident there. Laura Linney made her stage debut there. Theatre For A New Audience was head-quartered there. Visual artists lived and worked in the nuns quarters on the top floor. An incredible amount of multi-discipline art came out of RAPP in its 5 short years. And, as mentioned, wonderful music. My favorite concert was Difford & Tilbrook from Squeeze.