Frigid Fest nearly iced out, but show goes on

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After the problem with the eastern wall at Under St. Mark’s was found, the spot was shored up with two-by-fours, which are now holding the building’s weight. Photos by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | The curtain has not gone down on the Frigid Festival after water damage to the Under St. Mark’s Theater halted the debut of 15 different shows on Monday.

During a pre-festival event at the Kraine Theater — the festival’s second location — on Tues., Feb. 19, Erez Ziv, Frigid’s founder and managing director, announced that IATI Theater had space to accommodate everyone without altering the performance schedule.

IATI is conveniently located right across the street from the Kraine, at 64 E. Fourth St.

News that shows would essentially have to be canceled due to the situation at Under St. Mark’s was broken to Ziv during a meeting with the building’s landlord, contractor, engineer and insurance adjuster on Mon., Feb. 18.

Water from a burst pipe collected in between the inner and outer east walls of the building and froze during the city’s last deep freeze late last month. The ice’s expansion caused the outer east wall to be pushed away from the rest of the building — meaning, the wall could collapse at any moment. Everyone had to vacate the building and stay out for at least two weeks.

“I actually almost lost my footing and fell when I realized it,” said Ziv, who quickly collected himself and started making phone calls to other local theater’s asking for help.

Although Ziv tried to remain optimistic, he had to be realistic.

“Theater space in New York City is never easy to find and last-minute is even harder,” he said.

The Frigid Festival had 86 performances scheduled at Under St. Mark’s over the next 19 days.

Out of the 15 shows, nine were being performed by out-of-towners.

Actors traveling from London, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Venice were landing in New York City that same day to take part in the three-week-long Frigid Festival.

David Lee Morgan, a spoken-word poet traveled here from London to be a part of the Frigid Festival. On Tuesday, he rehearsed his show at the Kraine Theater, one of the festival’s two main venues.

Many had purchased nonrefundable plane tickets and spent hundreds of dollars on hotel rooms.

After hearing the news that they might be without a venue, performers were naturally worried.

“The first thing was, ‘Oh my goodness what’s going to happen?’” said Kelly Haramis. The Chicagoan traveled to New York to perform her comedy piece “Hard-Core Corn” on Feb. 20.

But she didn’t panic.

“I perform improv once a week, so I’m pretty flexible and expect the unexpected,” she said.

Haramis had confidence that some other space would soon become available.

Even though a crisis has been averted, some performers are still going to have to roll with some punches. Actress Mary Goggin, who is debuting her one-woman show, “Runaway Princess,” on Sun., Feb. 24, won’t be able to have a dress rehearsal. At least she’s hoping to have some time to run through audio and lighting checks for the show.

“I’m grateful to be getting an hour of tech at this point,” she said.

The festival will officially run from Feb. 20 to March 10 at the Kraine Theater and Teatro IATI. Tickets can be found at frigidnewyork.info .