This week saw a particularly devastating hurricane hit Houston. Many theaters were damaged, but perhaps none as severely as The Alley. The Alley is one of the three oldest resident theaters in the US. I visited their shops and performing spaces just last month, when they were fresh off a recent renovation that updated their entire theater.
American Theatre magazine posted some videos and photos as the storm hit. The Neuhaus theater and lobby were completely submerged. The hand prop storage in the basement was also completely underwater. The props team has not been able to get down there yet to survey the damage, but it could potentially be a total loss. The Alley has operated for over fifty years, and their stock had evolved into one of the best in the country; they frequently lend unique items to theaters all over the US.
The storm hit during rehearsals of a new play by Rajiv Joseph. They have already made plans to continue with the show at an alternate venue.
I have been following this story on the Facebook page of The Alley’s properties master, Karin Rabe Vance. She has posted a list of local charities if you wanted to donate to help Houston. If you wanted to directly help the theater, you can also donate to the Alley Theatre Employee Flood Assistance Fund, or to the rebuilding campaign for the Alley Theatre itself.
I am certainly glad the employees are all currently safe, and I am sure the theater will be able to rebuild over time. Nonetheless, this kind of loss is devastating to a props shop. A prop stock is part of our livelihood, and a stock like The Alley’s represented the careful accumulation of items over many decades. That kind of collection cannot simply be repurchased, and may never be replicated. It will be a great shift in how they prop shows for many years to come.