BROOKLYN: The Collapsable Hole, home to many of Williamsburg’s most daring theatrical heists—many of which are too insalubrious to mention in this publication—has closed its doors after 13 years. Run by the theatre ensembles Radiohole and the Collapsable Giraffe, the Hole hosted what both groups describe as “colossal acts of degradation.” A press release in early September announced the shuttering, as well as details for a memorial service in which attendees were encouraged to BYOB. American Theatre’s Eliza Bent caught up with Radiohole’s Eric Dyer a few days after the closing.
AMERICAN THEATRE: How did the Hole come into being?
DYER: Originally we had no intention of starting a space. We just wanted a place to perform Bend Your Mind Off—a collaboration between Radiohole and Collapsable Giraffe that we had created in [artist] Scott Halvorsen Gillette’s basement loft. When we temporarily parted ways with Scott (a brief parting fueled by the usual stuff—women, booze, shoes, urine—you know the story), we needed a place to perform the show. No “real” theatre would have us (and we probably wouldn’t have had them if they would’ve had us).
We were looking around Williamsburg. I spent days walking around the neighborhood knocking on doors. At the end of one of those days, completely frustrated and having pretty much given up on the idea, I went into what was then the Good Times Bar & Grill to have a beer and engage in some self-pity. Of course, I told the bartender my story and it turned out he was the owner of the garage next door. Well, the next day I brought Jim Findlay to the bar, and after a few nights of drinking (and whatever) we had a five-year lease on 146 Metropolitan Ave.—that was 13 years ago.
The Collapsable Hole had a very special—that is to say, wild—ethos and aesthetic. Can you talk about that?
It was, to borrow post-anarchist author Peter Lamborn Wilson’s phrase, a “temporary autonomous zone” (that ultimately lasted 13 years). There were no rules other than leave the place more or less how you found it when you’re finished doing whatever it is you’re doing. You could literally do anything you wanted to. We didn’t manage the life out of it. We never spent one red cent on administration.
Why exactly did it close? Money woes? New neighbors?
Money, of course. Yes, the bar next door, Skinny Dennis, is taking it over. As you know, Williamsburg has an extreme shortage of bars right now.
I’ve heard that. Any plans to reopen a Hole in another spot?
I wouldn’t say there are “plans” per se but it could very well happen.
There was a funeral party. Would you please share highlights? I understand there were some chants?
The joy and chaos of the evening was a perfect, fitting end to the Hole. We’re all grateful for everyone who turned out (and many who couldn’t, but sent their condolences and/or whiskey) to celebrate and “mourn” with us. It put in perspective just how many people had a connection to the place—artists who created work there and audiences who experienced it. The chant was: “Who died? Williamsburg died!”